ALMOST three-quarters of Scots want Orange and Irish Republican-themed parades banned, while nearly all believe march organisers should pick up the tab for policing such events.

A survey of 1000 adults found 73% want them outlawed, while 94% thought the groups behind the marches should also foot the bill for policing them.

Recent estimates suggest it costs the police around £1.2 mil-lion a year to provide cover at the many parades held throughout Scotland by both Orange and Republican groups.

Councils can bill parade organisers for the cost of any disruption which is caused by marches, but there is currently no way for the police to recoup the costs of up to 24000 officer hours needed to cover the events.

The Panelbase poll comes just weeks after legislation clamping down on offensive and sectarian behaviour at football matches received Royal assent.

While there has been an effort over the years by Holyrood administrations to deal with sectarianism, this has tended to focus almost exclusively on football, with parades all but ignored.

In Strathclyde alone there are over 1000 parades a year.

The vast majority of them are staged by Protestant marching organisations such as the Orange Order and loyalist bands.

Officers have complained in the past Glasgow has more marches than Belfast.

It has been reported the County Orange Parade in Glasgow, which is Scotland's biggest march in terms of the number of people taking part, costs Strathclyde Police £600,000 a year to police. The march commemorates the Battle of the Boyne, which saw the Protestant King William defeat the Catholic James VII in Ireland in 1690.

Marches have in the past been linked to a rise in anti-social behaviour and an increase in sectarian and racially-motivated crimes.

However, while concerns have been raised many times in recent years, by the police in particular, about the drain on resources, civil liberties legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights mean both bans and charging for policing costs are unlikely to happen.

The Orange Order has threatened to take Glasgow City Council to court over its policy of trying to restrict the numbers and routes of parades.

Despite the reluctance of the Scottish Government to involve itself, the Orange Order believes the legislation targeting bigotry at football matches will soon be extended to parading organisations.

In a statement issued before its biggest Scottish parade last summer, the Grand Orange Lodge "condemned the political agenda and dictatorial attitude of local government in their attempts to deprive us of our basic human rights".

Ian Wilson, the former grand master, said: "I can understand the argument for curtailing marches but I find it a bit baffling, a bit threatening, if people are talking about banning them.

"When you live in a democratic society you are expected to tolerate other people's foibles. I think people will say there are too many marches and that they cause inconvenience.

"I understand that, and we have to be careful of other people's sensitivities, but marching is a traditional way for people to express themselves."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Local authorities, in consultation with local chief constables, are best placed to decide whether events should go ahead and whether any restrictions should be placed on them.

"We fully support the right of local authorities to make those decisions."