Anti-catholic bias may be ‘de­fault set­ting’ says spokesman

The Herald - - FRONT PAGE - MARTIN WIL­LIAMS

THE Catholic Church in Scot­land has called for a re­view into the projects used to tackle sec­tar­i­an­ism amid claims that “anti-catholi­cism may be Scot­land’s de­fault set­ting”.

It comes as some aca­demics ques­tioned whether pub­lic money handed to groups such as Nil By Mouth was be­ing spent ap­pro­pri­ately or goes to those who “sim­ply re­cy­cle the es­tab­lished ‘wis­doms’ about so called ‘sec­tar­i­an­ism’”.

Ac­cord­ing to the Scot­tish Catholic Ob­server, Dr Joe Bradley, of Stir­ling Univer­sity, sug­gested sup­port for re­search into big­otry needed to be “spread to some of the aca­demics and ac­tivists who haven’t re­ceived any­thing pre­vi­ously”.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment this week an­nounced £515,000 in fund­ing for anti-sec­tar­i­an­ism projects, say­ing it had pro­vided £13.5 mil­lion for such work in the last six years.

Nil By Mouth will re­ceive £95,000, the bulk of the new funds.

Dr Bradley re­port­edly said: “We’ll get nowhere in terms of learn­ing and un­der­stand­ing if it’s the same bod­ies, same aca­demics, that get yet more money to say the same things: the things that ac­tu­ally just sim­ply re­cy­cle the es­tab­lished ‘wis­doms’ about so called ‘sec­tar­i­an­ism’,” he said.

But Nil By Mouth di­rec­tor Dave Scott in­sisted the char­ity must com­ply with cri­te­ria set out by the In­de­pen­dent Ad­vi­sory Group on Sec­tar­i­an­ism – “the most widely re­searched, bestev­i­denced and thor­ough pieces of work ever car­ried out on the sub­ject in Scot­land”.

At an Easter de­bate, Pe­ter Kear­ney, the Scot­tish bish­ops’ spokesman, said an in­de­pen­dent cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis of projects would be “a very good idea”.

He added: “The ques­tion needs to be asked: are the pro­grammes we are fund­ing at the mo­ment work­ing?”

Mr Kear­ney also in­sisted sec­tar­i­an­ism was “alive and well”.

He added: “The very word ‘sec­tar­i­an­ism’ is a eu­phemism.”

“It re­mains a blan­ket prob­lem never to be de­fined,” he said, adding that “anti-catholi­cism may be Scot­land’s de­fault set­ting.”

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