Just as the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland has grown less violent if still persisting, historic sectarian tensions in Scotland appear to be subsiding.
The Tablet of London (Aug. 4) reports that in both countries, the Protestant Orange orders’ traditional anti-Catholic edge has been dulled. In Northern Ireland, the government has proposed turning the annual Orange march into communal festivals open to everyone. In Scotland, the Orange Lodges have devised a scheme where young people from Protestant backgrounds are introduced to youth from Catholic and other backgrounds.
But crucial to Scotland’s diminishing conflict is the public acknowledgement that the problem existed. Persistent attacks on the Scottish Catholic school system were represented as liberal and anti-sectarian when they were more likely driven by anti-Catholic prejudice. Only when the prejudice was acknowledged could the full force of peer-group pressure be mobilized to stop it. The article adds that there is still a denial of sectarianism in Scottish politics, and a continuing need for open dialogue on the issue.
(The Tablet, 1 King Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0QZ UK)