WITH regard to the current debate about bigotry and sectarianism, it is my experience that attitudes are generally set early in childhood.

In my personal situation, the first Irish Catholic family I met came to Dean Village in Edinburgh where I grew up.

As was normal for the village, there was no question of a failure of the community to accept the family, and considering my grandparents living there were Lees and Boswells and from a gypsy background anything else would have been extraordinary.

Later, one my aunts married a Catholic and consequently I have a number of cousins brought up in that faith. These days Dean Village would be hailed as a beacon of inclusiveness, but the villagers didn’t seem to hold much with analysing social backgrounds or jargon.

To this day I remain friendly with the siblings of that family, though we had our differences as the boys supported Hibs and I supported Hearts. The boys also went to different schools, but at weekends I went with them to their school sports ground where we were all taught cricket by Chris Shevlane. Older readers will recall that Chris went on to enjoy a fruitful career with Hearts, one of many Catholics who played for the club over the years.

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It is this context that I agree with much of the statements made by D Gill (Letters, November 5) and the larger context set by Dod (Letters, November 7). However, in common with the great majority of Hearts supporters, I utterly deplore the small number who ape all the worst characteristics of a larger club in Glasgow. This phenomenon has been around for a while, but latterly it seems to have deteriorated from a support of the protestant desire to preserve Northern Ireland’s place in the Union to an ugly form of British nationalism. The huge majority of Hearts fans just wish they would roll up their Union flags and go.

It also needs to be stated that Neil Lennon has suffered particularly badly from sectarian abuse and threats, oddly in a country in which the majority, in my experience, have an abiding affection for Ireland and the Irish.

However, it remains to be seen whether the incident at Tynecastle was motivated by sectarian bigotry or uncontrollable rage or both. Whatever the root cause, the individual needs to be identified, charged and banned from Tynecastle for life.

However, in the understandable desire to defend Neil Lennon as the victim, we also need to be honest.

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Here are the facts. Hearts thought they had scored a winner late in the game. The goal was disallowed. Neil Lennon went towards the Hearts fans to goad them and wind them up. A moron in the Hearts crowd threw a coin which hit Neil Lennon.

The following day, Neil Lennon generated wide publicity in which the focus was shifted away from the provocation made by him to the awful treatment he has received from sectarian bigots.

Unlike the majority of SPL managers, Neil Lennon has a track record of what can be euphemistically described as negative interaction with opposing fans. This should never lead to the violence we saw at the Hearts v Hibs match and it’s the collective responsibility of all of us, including the politicians who voted to remove the Offensive Behaviour at Football Matches legislation, to try to eradicate this blight.

In the meantime, Mr Lennon needs to accept the unfortunate reality of what we’re currently living with and moderate his behaviour accordingly.

Douglas Turner