IT is a sad fact of life in Scotland that bigotry still exists in many forms. From sectarian football chants to torrents of hate posted online to anyone who dares to be different.

Thankfully though these acts are perpetrated by a tiny, disgraceful minority. However, our front page story today has shocked even us — as we are sure it will shock you. The image of a man posing as Hitler and a woman as Eva Braun is shocking enough, but the fact he is giving the Nazi salute over the heads of children dressed in rags with yellow star-shaped patches on their chests makes this photograph even more disturbing.

And that the flute band which organised the Halloween party saw fit to name these people joint winners at the event, effectively condoning this behaviour, exposes an astonishing level of ignorance of the offence that they could cause, not just to Jewish people who are understandably appalled, and not just to our veterans who fought the Nazis and liberated Jews from concentration camps, but to the vast majority of people in Scotland.

This particular group have shown a pattern of ignorance at their annual fancy dress competition. In previous years people posed at Catholic clergy and in one horrendous photograph a man dressed as the Pope has a noose around his neck to simulate a lynching.

Other images uncovered by the Sunday Herald show white people who have blacked-up, an ugly practice which most thought had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

The Sunday Herald wholeheartedly agrees with faith groups and charities which have condemned the images as hateful, racist and breath-taking in their ignorance. Readers will be outraged by these pictures, whether they have a faith or not.

Two weeks ago almost 9,000 members and supporters of the Orange Order held parades in Scotland’s biggest city before converging on Glasgow Green where leaders gave triumphalist speeches congratulating those who have been elected to councils in Scotland. The leadership then celebrated the deal between the Conservative government and the DUP as another indication that the Orange Order’s influence on mainstream politics is growing.

The leadership of the Orange Order also criticised charities who refused cash donations from members’ fundraising activities as “sectarian”. The next day a video appeared online showing a flute band playing the banned sectarian Famine Song which has lyrics which call on Scots to leave the country because of their racial origins. The Orange Order will be at pains to point out that the activity of flute bands are a matter for local lodges but the emergence of these offensive images today are further evidence that there is a disturbing element inextricably linked to the Orange Order.

These connections further damage the image of the controversial organisation which is striving for mainstream acceptance.

There is no place in a civilised, tolerant and egalitarian Scotland for this kind of racism and bigotry, yet the Orange Order has refused to acknowledge the problem, declining to comment and effectively washing their hands of the followers. Faith groups and charities have rightly sought reassurances from Police Scotland that they will ensure that they can live without fear and prejudice.

If the Orange Order wants to be thought of as more than a fringe group of extremists they must condemn these photographs and flush out those involved.