THE chairman of the body promoting cultural and religious diversity in Northern Ireland will head a new group advising ministers on tackling bigotry in Scotland.

Duncan Morrow, who has been a member and chairman of the Community Relations Council for a decade, will be joined by leading academics and practitioners with experience of working with sectarianism and in communities.

These include Michael Rosie, a sceptic on sectarianism being a major issue in Scots society, whose role will be to challenge evidence.

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Also included is the Rev Ian Galloway, a former convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, and Dr Cecilia Clegg, a senior lecturer in practical theology at Edinburgh University.

Margaret Lynch, chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland and an ex-head of the Scottish Mediation Network, who has a wealth of contacts throughout the Catholic church and civic Scotland, is also part of the group.

Mr Morrow, an academic at the University of Ulster's School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, has worked with many organisations tackling sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

The group, which will wind up next year, will look at criteria for assessing applications for funding, write reports on evidence regarding sectarianism and develop a research and evidence gathering process.

The Scottish Government says it will develop and analyse evidence to give ministers advice on the impact of bigotry and assess and monitor current practice, advising ministers of potential improvements.

The Government is spending £9m on the issue between 2012 and 2015.

Announcing the group, along with £900,000 to be spent on projects tackling sectarianism, Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: "The establishment of the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland will form a key plank of our wider work.

"We will be gathering evidence on the nature of sectarianism in Scotland as well as the impact and effectiveness of these different interventions, and the advisory group will play a crucial role."

Mr Morrow said: "The group will work hard to ensure our advice is rooted in real evidence and practical experience."