Outrage at sectarian disorder in Govan

Riot police at the scene in Govan on Friday night
Riot police at the scene in Govan on Friday night
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Two people have been arrested after a protest against an Irish unity march sparked a riot in Glasgow.

Riot police, mounted officers, a force helicopter and dog units were used to quell “significant disorder” in Govan on Friday.

Officers said the planned march, organised by the James Connolly Republican Flute Band, was met by hundreds of “disruptive” counter-demonstrators at around 7pm. This led to “significant disorder” around Govan Road, which was blocked by officers.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon condemned the incident as “unacceptable”.

She tweeted: “What happened in Govan last night was utterly unacceptable. My thanks to @policescotland for their response. I welcome Glasgow City Council’s commitment to review the procedures around marches. Peaceful protest is a part of our democracy – violent and sectarian disruption is not.”

Witnesses reported smoke bombs being used.

Glasgow City Council advised of the road block in a traffic bulletin. Govan Subway Station was also closed due to the incident, but has since reopened.

Once the road reopened at around 9.45pm, a few police vehicles remained in the area, including riot vans. Debris and what appeared to be makeshift barriers could be seen at the side of the road.

Yesterday police arrested two men – aged 37 and 21 – following the disorder.

Speaking yesterday, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, said: “Last night’s scenes in Glasgow were totally unacceptable.

“I have spoken to the leader of Glasgow City Council this morning and welcome the council’s strong statement of intent.

“We will take the necessary actions to keep our streets safe from the sectarian thuggery we witnessed last night. Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and tolerant society and any form of violent disorder is completely and utterly unacceptable to the Scottish Government and the vast majority of Scots.”

Former first minister Lord McConnell called for more to be done at national level to tackle sectarianism in Scotland.

He said: “The events last night in Glasgow and the recent problems at football grounds in Scotland, show that the cancer of sectarianism is still with us.

“Every decent person will be shocked and disgusted at this behaviour.

“I believe this is a direct result of the decisions made in 2007 to end the national leadership on tackling religious bigotry. If you don’t kill a cancer – it comes back. I am really angry that we are where we are today.

“But I am willing to work across boundaries and across parties to get back on the front foot on this issue again.

“If Nicola Sturgeon wants to work with me or anybody else on a cross-party basis to redevelop a national programme of action against sectarianism, I will be first in the queue. We all need to pull together and put bigotry in the dustbin of history.”