Senior police officer warns this year's parades season could once again prove 'challenging'
Police Scotland Deputy Chief Constable Will Kerr said there had been "significant tension" around some marches in 2019, with a number of events requiring a police presence of more than 500.
He said he fears that could continue to be the case this year.
Mr Kerr, who spent almost three decades as a police officer in Belfast, said his "intuition" tells him it is "going to be a challenging year around the parading season".
The force had to call in riot police, mounted officers, a police helicopter and dog units to deal with "significant disorder" at a march in Govan, Glasgow, at the end of August last year when "disruptive" counter-protesters met a planned Irish Unity march.
Another march saw a policeman injured when he was struck by a pyrotechnic thrown by a protester.
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said at the time that such events "demonstrated that sectarian violence is not a thing of the past".
On Friday, Mr Kerr said policing marches will add to the "resourcing pressure" on Police Scotland in the run up to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November, which is estimated to result in a £200 million policing bill.
Speaking at a Scottish Police Authority (SPA) board meeting in Edinburgh, Mr Kerr recalled the "parade season in 2019 ended with some significant tension".
He said: "Some of those events were very resource-intensive for us, one or two of the parades in particular in September last year in Glasgow took over 500 officers to police.
• READ MORE: Outrage at sectarian disorder in Govan
"We don't know the extent to which that residual tension is going to work over into the parading season this year.
"Glasgow City Council, the Scottish Government and a range of others are doing a significant amount of work to try to minimise and mitigate that tension.
"But my intuition tells me - and I would be delighted to be proved wrong on this - but my intuition based on 27 years of policing in Belfast, and bearing in mind that there are more parades in Glasgow over the course of the season, my intuition tells me it is going to be a challenging year around the parading season."
His comments came after Police Scotland Chief Constable Iain Livingstone told the SPA there had been an almost 20 per cent rise - from around 1,500 to 1,800 - in the number of loyalist and republican marches in Scotland in 2019.