Sectarianism (Reduction and Prevention Funding)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government how much funding it provides to organisations that aim to reduce and prevent sectarianism in society. (S5O-02982)

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has invested £13.5 million to support anti-sectarian education in schools, prisons, workplaces and communities over the past seven years, which has supported more than 100 projects to deliver anti-sectarian education and activity across Scotland. In 2018-19, that includes £515,000 for nine projects, including Nil by Mouth and sense over sectarianism. We intend to build on that work in 2019-20 by ensuring that there is a real-terms increase to the funding for work in the area. I will shortly make an announcement about the specific work that will be funded in 2019-20.

Photo of James Dornan James Dornan Scottish National Party

It is clear from the cabinet secretary’s answer that third sector organisations are undertaking a lot of work to eradicate sectarianism in Scotland. They include the aforementioned Nil By Mouth as well as the West of Scotland Regional Equality Council and North Kelvin Sports Development Group, all of which are members of my cross-party group on combating sectarianism in Scottish society.

Does the cabinet secretary agree that, although sectarianism is undoubtedly a societal issue, football is a huge part of Scottish society and therefore football, too, must play its part in the eradication of this terrible problem, which so often rears its ugly head in football stadia?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

I thank James Dornan for raising that issue. He has raised it many times in the chamber, for which he should be given credit. I know that he has suffered a lot of abuse because he has raised his head above the parapet to mention the issue very publicly in the chamber. I thank him for that.

James Dornan is absolutely right that sectarianism is a wider societal issue, and therefore the work that has been done in communities is very important. However, it would be silly and ignorant of us—we would be burying our heads in the sand—to ignore the obvious recent unacceptable conduct in that regard in and around football. I have said many a time, but I will repeat and re-emphasise it, that football clubs have to take real responsibility in this area; if they do not, the Government of course reserves the right to act.

Photo of Liam Kerr Liam Kerr Conservative

The cabinet secretary has talked about where the funding is going, but a written answer that the Scottish Government provided to me in October revealed that, of the nine organisations that are funded by the Scottish Government to tackle sectarianism, only one—Nil by Mouth, which James Dornan mentioned—takes its message to workplaces. Education in schools is of course vital, but what steps is the Scottish Government taking to improve the number of initiatives that are aimed at working-age adults?

Photo of Humza Yousaf Humza Yousaf Scottish National Party

That is a good point. As I said, I will shortly make an announcement on the specific work that will be funded in 2019-20. We have to work in schools, workplaces, prisons and communities. I will have another look at the organisations that we are funding, and if we think that we can build on that and do more in specific sectors or areas of society, we should do that. I am afraid that the issue is a society-wide one that goes from young people all the way to old people, and we should cover as much of society as possible. I will reflect on what the member says. As I said, I will make an announcement on the matter shortly, but I am happy to keep the conversation going with him and with anybody else who has an interest in tackling this scourge.