Figures recorded by police for the first time show that sectarian attacks are continuing to take place on a shockingly high level.
Almost 350 sectarian incidents were reported to police over a six-month period an average of two a day in the first ever figures on the issue formally collated by the PSNI.
The newly-released statistics point to extremely high levels of sectarianism, almost matching the scale of well-publicised racist incidents for the same period.
The Irish News can reveal that from September 28 last year to the end of March a total of 339 sectarian incidents were reported to police.
If the figures are broken down, 172 were recorded from October to December 2004, and 163 for the first three months of this year an average of two per day.
During the same six-month period there were a total of 422 racist incidents and 98 homophobic incidents reported to police.
The figures for sectarian incidents, though already high, precede the summer marching season when tensions can increase.
The new figures do not include a number of sectarian attacks since March, which are prompting fears of a volatile summer.
Despite decades of conflict, police have only started compiling a formal record of all sectarian incidents, ranging from taunts, abuse, assaults and bomb attacks on both sides of the community.
Their collation commenced with the implementation of the Criminal Justice (No 2) Northern Ireland Order.
The PSNI said the number of charges brought in relation to the sectarian incidents was not available.
Earlier this week police faced fresh criticism for failing to bring enough hate crime perpetrators before the courts after figures for the last financial year showed the number of reported racist incidents soared by nearly 80% to 813.
The 'clearance' rate for such crimes remains low, even dropping by one per cent to just 15.9%.
Sectarian incidents were not included in the annual chief constable's report on crime levels issued last week, but will feature next year.
But two observers warned that the latest figures were only the tip of the iceberg.
Paul O'Connor, of the Pat Finucane Centre, said: "It is shocking that the reported level is still so high, the reality is the actual level remains even higher.
"In our experience so much goes unreported."
UUP Policing Board member Fred Cobain said: "We haven't even scratched the surface of sectarianism yet, nor are we tackling it in any strategic way."