I’VE had enough. Since almost the first day I became an MSP, I was determined to try to fight the sectarian blight that still flourishes throughout certain parts of Scotland

I’ve attempted to bring in a members’ bill, put down numerous motions and argued my case through various media platforms. I’ve met with football authorities and individual football clubs, the Orange Order, with Irish nationalist organisations, fellow Scottish politicians and anyone who was willing to meet and discuss this.

I am the convenor – or to be accurate – I was the convenor of the cross-party group on Combating Sectarianism in Scottish Society. A group that I established but I cannot continue with any longer.

The National: James Dornan explains his decision in The NationalJames Dornan explains his decision in The National

I’ve concluded that far too many people in Scottish society appear to be invested in “one side or another” and are either comfortable with, or uncomfortable in taking on sectarianism, including the media:

The written media may pay lip service to the dangers of sectarianism but love it for headlines and clickbait. Also, television ignores how sectarianism manifests itself unless there is some good footage of things being thrown, preferably with a bloody head in the shot.

Radio feeds off it with its interminable chat shows where callers can say any old rubbish and we’re meant to take it seriously. Except for the occasional ‘‘well Jimmy, I’m not sure that’s completely accurate’’, from one of the “knowledgeable” pundits who generally played for either Celtic or Rangers before retiring and getting a “job for the boys” gig, where the sum total of their knowledge is learning the (in)appropriate songs at an early age, or an early stage in their Glasgow careers.

Politicians run a mile from the issue of sectarianism. I’ve lost count of the number of times that politicians from different parties have told me how much they admire my ‘‘courage’’ in taking this on, but they wouldn’t do it because ‘‘you get too much grief’’ or ‘‘it’ll upset a number of my constituents’’.

I can vouch for the veracity of both those comments as I recently had an SNP member tell me he would never vote for me because – and I am not kidding here – ‘‘I’m always having a go at Celtic, if it’s not about the flares, banners, songs or chants, it’s about the abuse stuff’’.

I swear to you, I could have wept that day!

The National:

But you know what? I came into politics for two reasons, not in any particular order: independence for Scotland and to do my bit to make my constituency and my country a better place. Not to pander to people because they might make things a bit difficult for you if you didn’t. This is politics – instability and difficulty should go with the territory.

It was, and still is, my belief that Scotland will be a better place when we stop pretending that:

a) “there’s no problem”, “it’s just banter”, “it’s always been there and you’ll never get rid of it” or

b) “yeah it happens but it’s no us it’s them”, “ours is culture, tradition, politics, theirs is sectarian, bigotry, racism”.

AND this brings me neatly on to football clubs and authorities. In my view, both Celtic and Rangers football clubs can fall into both the above categories. Every Old Firm game appears to bring examples of the above, each club turning a blind eye to their own responsibilities while criticising their opponents fans, players or club for something in a blatant attempt at deflection.

Take the Old Firm game just before the New Year. In this case, it was about other behaviours but it has often been about sectarianism ... Rangers statement absolved their players of any wrongdoing whilst ignoring the behaviour of their fans during the minute’s applause for Dunky Mackay and then accused Celtic fans of racially abusing Alfredo Morelos.

The National: Police wearing Anti-Sectarian Initiative jackets at the Old Firm match between  Rangers and  Celtic at Ibrox. PRESS ASSOCIATION

Now, I’m not commenting on the accuracy or rights or wrongs of the statement made – I’ve already made that mistake – but to me it’s just another of many examples of one of these clubs not taking any responsibility for their own.

Then, of course, when [Celtic player] Ryan Christie gets a retrospective two-game ban for getting a bit too familiar with Morelos, Celtic are shocked and horrified.

If only Rangers had said: ‘‘Some fans shamed us. Players should recognise their responsibilities. We’ll be dealing with this.’’ Then maybe people would have had a bit more respect for their other complaints.

If only Celtic had put their hands up and said: ‘‘We can’t say we’re surprised and we’re just going to accept the two-game ban.’’ Then maybe the fans would get a little less hysterical and stop searching the internet for examples of whatabootery.

But of course, the clubs have got to look after their finances so they stay schtum or play to their own gallery and that is how sectarian chants, songs and banners continue to be prevalent at the grounds of those two clubs.

But the football authorities are something else entirely. Just recently, the English FA has taken action against Barnsley FC because of sectarian abuse to Republic of Ireland player James McLean, yet our footballing authorities continue to tell us there is no problem in Scottish football, sectarianism is a social issue.

Apparently, despite being one of the largest and most influential parts of Scottish society, it is clearly nothing to do with football.

They are happy to take the money but no responsibility; they’re happy to go on the trips abroad, but not listen to the chants and songs being sung; they’re happy to take public money but feel absolutely no requirement to share with the Scottish Government their own findings on abuse, sectarian or otherwise.

There you have it – media, football clubs and authorities complicit in the continuation of sectarian abuse and politicians too scared to get involved or only getting involved to defend this kind of behaviour for political gain.

I’ve had seven years of abuse, insults, threats of physical violence – on social media, via phone, email, letter and by people coming to my office to physically have a go at me.

I would have continued to put up with that except for three things:

Firstly, there is a sizeable chunk of people out there so blinded by their own hatred and bigotry that they can’t see any criticism of their side as being justified and therefore attack mercilessly and constantly without listening.

Also, it appears that the bodies I have mentioned here, along with too many of the public, are just happy to pretend it doesn’t really exist as a problem.

READ MORE: James Dornan gives up fight against bigotry and sectarianism

FINALLY, partly because of the previous point, I feel I’ve been fighting a one-man battle against this with extremely limited support. My staff and family do not deserve to have to put up with the abuse or stress that has been a part of my life for too long.

I would like at this stage to thank those who have assisted with the cross-party group and disassociate from any criticism the indefatigable Dave Scott from Nil by Mouth, the first person to come to my aid when I’m being attacked. The one other strong voice against any form of sectarianism in Scottish society and a font of good advice and kindness.

Hopefully the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation that the parliament can rally round and not be tempted to play politics with.

Maybe now I’m stepping back, others will find it easier to take on the mantle and have more success. My concern is that no-one does and, as I fear is the case at this moment, there’s every chance the bigots will win.