Legitimate not sectarian

A Labour MSP, Michael McMahon, has criticised the approach of the Scottish Executive towards sectarianism and the Old Firm teams. He objects to defining the Sash, the Fields of Athenry or the display of Union, Ulster and Irish Tricolour flags as sectarian. He describes those who criticise them as “well-meaning but ignorant”.

  • John East Belfast

    “He criticised colleagues who failed to differentiate between legitimate religious opinions and manifestations of hatred.”

    It sounds like that is exactly what he is doing.

    Anyhow what place do legitimate religious opinions have at a football match ?

    Does the Irish diasphoria in Scotland see itself as Irish or Scottish ?
    I have heard fanatical Rangers supporters say that is their main problem with them – ie a foreign people living in Scotland

    Bit like how Irish Nationalists view Northern Unionists ?

  • Realist

    What did Celtic chairman, Brian Quinn, mean when he said this only last month?

    In an open letter to Celtic fans, he said: “Offensive songs and chants have all but disappeared from Celtic Park and we are working with the SPL authorities, the SPL clubs and the police to discourage the remaining cases of unwelcome chants and songs at away grounds.

    “These can only damage the club and are a very real danger, as UEFA has made it clear it will treat this matter extremely seriously in the season ahead”

  • “I think we can all agree with Slugger’s GAAwatch correpondent that Celtic are not sectaran but that the Huns are.”

    When I read that first sentence I thought the comment would be an attempt at satire. Seems that it was an inadvertant chuckle in a seriously blinkered little post.

  • Poddyman

    “..The simple fact of life is sectarianism has been a one way gun…”

    I thought there was a high calibre of debate here on Slugger? If ever there was an example where someone shot themselves in foot before they even began the race, then this is it!

  • Garibaldy

    Where satire or not, the reality is that many people think that way, and refuse to acknowledge that sectarianism prevades both sides

  • Billyboy

    Paddyman. What makes you think there is a high calibre of debate? The fact that poeple just shoot the breeze and play the ball right down the middle and don’t call Nazi saluting Huns Huns? Who had the power and who abused that power? Is it wrong for Glasgow Catholics, facing discrimination and murder at the hands of the Billy Boys, to have some self-respect? If so, manbe we should begin Holy Cross and Harryville all over until the Croppies lie down and stop petending they are humans? Oh yes. The UVF have tamed it down at Windsor. Yeh, right. Get on yer bike.

  • Turbopaul

    There we are, when finaly the decent people of Ireland, North and South across the divide, get on with their lives there is a place for those with vitrol dripping from their mouths.

    Its Scotland, so the hitting corks in a barrel approach may leave only Scotland with the nastiness of Christian sectarian division.

    Ok, there will still be division in NI but as the sectarian division hailed from Scottish shores perhaps it is only right it goes back there.

    If Jesus saw how it turned out he may think:

    “Why did I bother”

  • Anna Dale

    Billyboy/ The Bhoys

    The use of “Hun” as an insult is considered by many to be sectarian or indeed, even racist.

    http://www.ntvcelticfanzine.com/editorials/ed97nilbymouth.htm

    Which kind of makes you own argument, at the very least, inconsistent.

    But please don’t let me pointing out that slightly inconvenient fact, stop you from unleashing your next tirade.

  • IJP

    That’s a very important point, Garibaldy.

    It’s very easy to criticize themmuns for being sectarian (or racist), not quite so easy to accept it from within.

  • Animal Farm

    As the Rangers fans give Nazi salutes at matches and as they worship a German monarch, perhaps Huns is an apt description for these sectarian thugs. Do Hearts or otehr teams command the same level of support from the UVF/UFF/UUP etc?

  • Realist

    “Do Hearts or otehr teams command the same level of support from the UVF/UFF/UUP etc?”

    Animal Farm,

    Don’t think so.

    The only team that might come close would be Celtic, with their assorted array of PIRA/INLA/CIRA/RIRA/PSF/RSF/IRSP “fans”.

    That said, I’m absolutely sure that not all Celtic fans would be supportive of such groupings.

    Cannot comment on Rangers (not a fan), but I doubt all of their fans either give Nazi salutes or are supportive of loyalist paramilitary groupings.

  • Anna Dale

    Animal Farm (you have the read the book have you? In view of your comment, quite an appropriate choice of name)

    “The use of “Hun” as an insult is considered by many to be sectarian or indeed, even racist”

    You didn’t really, fully, 100% understand my comment did you?

    Think particularly about the “racist” part.
    Got it now?

  • Cheshire Exile

    As a Scot and a nationalist, I disagree with turbopaul. Scotland is trying to get rid of its religious and sectarian divisions. As far as the Irish Diaspora in Scotland is concerned some see themselves as Irish, some as Irish Scots, some as Scots of Irish descent (many are the offspring of Scottish marrying Irish parents).

    As far as Rangers fans seeing the Irish in Scotland as foreigners, a rather simplistic view! Technically in modern terms may be they are! Ethnically no. Scots and Irish are blood linked from the dawn of time irrespective of periods in history or which christian denomination you belong. The north channel is not so wide and has been crossed by cavemen in corracles let alone Stena Line Car Ferries!!

    I resent the Irish republican representation of Scotland as much as I resent the loyalist representation of Scotland.

    Watch the Holyrood elections next year, and the current opinion polls. The majority of young Scots of a normal and intelligent mind (the SNP’s life blood)have no time for bigotry and prejudice of any kind, but a free, independent and religiously tolerant Scotland. Islam at the moment is the fastest growing religion in the country and we are proud of its growing multiculturalism. Those of you over the water who pretend to know what the Scots are or what is really happening over here. Jump on a plane and come and find out for yourself.

    You are all invited to the Independence First Rally in Edinburgh later on this month!!! Soar Alba

  • jk

    I am an Irishan living in Glasgow and a season ticket holder at Celtic. I fully resent the lazy media and politicians who call everything associated with the Irish identity as sectarian (ok not everything, the plastic pubs don’t get a mention). I totally agree with what McMahon says.

    I have lived in Glasgow 13 years and the nearest I have come to trouble over my Dublin heritage is a few gobshites in the pub one night. Coming from Ballymun, they were easily dealt with (verbally not violent wise).

  • Donnacha

    What, like they were from Ballymun?

  • bob

    i am not offended by an of those things mentioned by McMahon. However the Billy Boys is offensive as were the many pro IRA songs once sung at celtic pak. Celtic dealt with the issue Rangers didn’t. That is why Uefa fines Rangers this song cannot be sung.

    You’ll never walk alone

  • Fraggle

    “Does the Irish diasphoria in Scotland see itself as Irish or Scottish ?
    I have heard fanatical Rangers supporters say that is their main problem with them – ie a foreign people living in Scotland

    Bit like how Irish Nationalists view Northern Unionists ?”

    JEB, you seem to be missing the glaring difference here. The Irish in Scotland don’t want to divide Scotland and rule part of it from overseas. If only every minority could be so considerate.

  • Anna Dale

    bob
    “However the Billy Boys is offensive as were the many pro IRA songs once sung at celtic pak. Celtic dealt with the issue Rangers didn’t”

    Whilst Celtic may have dealt with it at Celtic park (according to their Chairman anyway), quite clearly a problem still exists elsewhere:

    http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/sport.cfm?id=684352006

    There was also a lot of comment on the Man. Utd forums after Keano’s testimonial about the pro IRA songs and chants being song by Celtic fans in Manchester city centre, the same centre the provos attempted to blow to smithereens during the 90s.

    The club also hasn’t, as far as I’m aware, paid too much attention about some of the pro-terrorist garbage on supporters club websites.

    In 2006, with close circuit TV and heavy stewarting present at most Celtic and Rangers matches, it wouldn’t be that difficult to start pinpointing ringleaders, confiscating season-tickets etc. Also it’s not that difficult to isolate the supporters clubs with dodgy websites and again take legal action to close them down.

    But in order for all this to be fully successful, then the vast majority of the fanbase has to buy into what the club is doing. From what I can see that certainly isn’t happening at Rangers and still there seems to be too much of a hypocritical attitude on the part of Celtic fans regarding their support of the provos and casual use of racist/sectarian terminology.

    But fair play to yourself for at least realising how offensive the IRA songs can be

  • POL

    Anna dale

    I think you miss the point stated on the link you provided,Peter Lawell has stated that the pro ira songs supporters sing are not viwed as sectarian but as political.In fact most celtic fans wouldnt be offended by rangers songs such as the sash or gstq but are a bit pissed off when they manage to interject during one of these songs with a a hearty #### the pope. In fact only last week we witnessed the celtic keeper being cautioned by the police for blessing himself,yet no action was taken against rangers and their support for screaming sectarian abuse.In fact Neill Lennon has to put up with this sectarian bile week in week out yet no action is taken.

  • Anna Dale

    “I think you miss the point stated on the link you provided,Peter Lawell has stated that the pro ira songs supporters sing are not viwed as sectarian but as political”

    The point surely is that even the Celtic chairman has said that such songs glorifying the IRA are offensive to many people and that they have no place in 2006? I’m not quite sure what your point is, are you arguing that many people don’t find songs about praising the IRA offensive?

    Expanding it a bit further, you seem to think that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate witht singing the Sash or GSTQ or, other “political” songs at a sporting event.
    Why?

    What’s the Boyne, the Hunger Strikers, 1916 etc got to do with a game of football between two Scottish clubs?

  • POL

    Expanding it a bit further, you seem to think that there is nothing wrong or inappropriate witht singing the Sash or GSTQ or, other “political” songs at a sporting event.
    Why

    Actually i dont find the singing of the sash or gstq offensive(accept when they interject with #### the pope.Why do they want to do that?) at all . This is simply because I view songs like the fields of Anthenry ,hungerstrike songs or indeed 1916 as simply cultural.What next Anna dale will we ban all national anthems (especially flower of scotland cos thats overtly political)from being played and sung.Where then would the political correctness end ,would we then ban the singing of happy birthday at birthday parties because we may offend people whose birthday it isnt.

  • Anna Dale

    Liked the birthday party example!

    “What’s the Boyne, the Hunger Strikers, 1916 etc got to do with a game of football between two Scottish clubs?”

    But you didn’t really answer my central question though did you?

    It’s a bit like Chelsea deciding to sing a song about the Battle of Waterloo when they play Arsenal, I just can’t see the relevance to present day soccer.

    Why do people need to “express” their Irish/Ulster culture (I’d deliberately exclude the glorification of terrorist organisations or sectarian songs which I believe should be banned) whilst supporting a Scottish premier League team?

  • John East Belfast

    Anna Dale

    “Why do people need to “express” their Irish/Ulster culture (I’d deliberately exclude the glorification of terrorist organisations or sectarian songs which I believe should be banned) whilst supporting a Scottish premier League team?”

    good point but it is because they are using the rivalry associated with football as an outlet to vent these particular nasty passions and hatereds. And football should not let them and they should be told to clear off and do it somewhere else – which is the point McMahon is missing

    Fraggle

    “JEB, you seem to be missing the glaring difference here. The Irish in Scotland don’t want to divide Scotland and rule part of it from overseas. If only every minority could be so considerate.”

    I know historically there is the conundrum in Scotland where the Catholics tend to support the Labour Party and the Prods the SNP but having said that would the majority of Celtic supporters not support an independent Scotland ?
    ie perhaps they do want to divide up the country they have come to ?

    Anyhow in a Scotland v ROI soccer match who would teh majority of Celtic supporters support ?

  • Funny how the Irish diaspora living in …. er…. Ireland all support Liverpool, Arsenal and Man U as far as I can see.

    Apart from those wise men in The Sultans of Ping FC who support Nottingham Forest.

    Just to weigh in on one side of the other, I’m with Anna on this one.

    Surely this thread should have ended by now because of [a href=“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin’s_law”]Godwin’s Law[/a]?

  • Balls. That hyperlink didn’t work.

    It’s this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

  • bob

    Anna dale

    My point still is this is a problem celtic has tried to deal with as u have clearly stated about brian quinn condeming these songs rangers have still failed to stop the billy boys being sung at ibrox. what a contrast. We have all seen the sickening behaviour against neil lennon at ibrox. Good to see u cant put a good man down. Go on Lenny.

  • Realist

    Animal Farm,

    “As the Rangers fans give Nazi salutes at matches, perhaps Huns is an apt description for these sectarian thugs.”

    I am reliably informed that there was only one arrest amongst the 12,000 ROI fans (many of whom wore the shirt of Glasgow Celtic) who travelled to Germany at the weekend.

    Guess what for?

    Does that make him a “hun” and a “sectarian thug”?

    The numerous nazi salutes given by so called ROI fans during the recent visit to Dublin of the Israeli national team – “huns” and “sectarian thugs”, I presume.

  • kensei

    “Anyhow in a Scotland v ROI soccer match who would teh majority of Celtic supporters support ?”

    Why the hell does it matter to anyone?

    I think he has a point. Celtic is a club with roots in Ireland. I see no reason why the Tricolour shouldn’t be flown if wished or the Fields of Athenry sung. It is part of the clubs history, and it gives it identity and a different atomsphere. Similar for Rangers. The problems arise when it spills over from that into openly paramilitary songs.

    So, yes, the MSP is 100% right.

  • kensei

    “The numerous nazi salutes given by so called ROI fans during the recent visit to Dublin of the Israeli national team – “huns” and “sectarian thugs”, I presume.”

    Still yet to see a credible source on this, but yes 100%. It is not shame on them, but on all of Ireland – other people there had a duty to stop them. I’m very glad very few of these events ever happen.

    Or perhjaps you’d prefer me to answer in the style of Northern Ireland fans?

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    lets say the tens of thousands of recent Polish immigrants to the ROI set up home in a certain area and become the dominant fan base of, say, Shamrock Rovers. Maybe they will even start up their own team and join the League of Ireland.

    At matches they will wave Polish flags and sing Polish songs and possibly be offensive to the indigenous Irish. They will vent antagonism encountered on the streets at such matches.

    Then when Poland visit in World Cup or Euro qualifiers they will go in their thousands to cheer on the team of their fathers.

    In NI they feel they would rather be part of the bigger UK and have no desire to join an Independent UI. They become so populace they change the Pro Union voting demographic so that not even’s Lib2016’s 23rd Century descendants ever see a UI.

    ………. are you going to be so open minded ?

  • kensei

    “lets say the tens of thousands of recent Polish immigrants to the ROI set up home in a certain area and become the dominant fan base of, say, Shamrock Rovers. Maybe they will even start up their own team and join the League of Ireland.”

    Excellent. Might improve interest in the league.

    “At matches they will wave Polish flags and sing Polish songs and possibly be offensive to the indigenous Irish. They will vent antagonism encountered on the streets at such matches.”

    So, having made my position clear: openly offensive songs. No. Polish flags and the odd polish folk song? Stop being offended.

    “Then when Poland visit in World Cup or Euro qualifiers they will go in their thousands to cheer on the team of their fathers.”

    And?

    “In NI they feel they would rather be part of the bigger UK and have no desire to join an Independent UI. They become so populace they change the Pro Union voting demographic so that not even’s Lib2016’s 23rd Century descendants ever see a UI.”

    This would piss me off, but there wouldn’t be a whole lot I could do about it. It is also totally unrelated to the rest of your post.

    Why only in NI, btw?

    “………. are you going to be so open minded ? ”

    Why, yes, whooly minded liberal that I am.

  • Cheshire Exile

    Scotland V ROI Match.

    Bet there are more people supporting Scotland than you think amongst Celtic supporters. There are thousands of Scots who support Celtic who have no obvious link to Ireland, who love the club for the club’s sake! Many young Scots kids love the club because they are successful.

    It is ridiculous to think that you have to be Irish (or Catholic for that matter) to be an avid Celtic fan! I know a few Aberdonian Episcopalian’s and Presbyterian’s who are Celtic fans and I am sure they know all the words to Athenry. Jeez, even Rod Stewart supports them!

    Lets not forget also, one of Scotland’s best long standing players was of Irish descent – Jackie McNamara.

    So, as always nothing is ever cut and dried. About time all the paramilitary nonsense was dropped by both sides of the old firm and the honorable traditions of the clubs respected.

  • John East Belfast

    kensei

    “Then when Poland visit in World Cup or Euro qualifiers they will go in their thousands to cheer on the team of their fathers.”

    And?”

    and it wouldnt bother you that 2nd & 3rd generation Irish living in Dublin will support someone other than Ireland in a sporting event ?
    I assume you would not see such people as Irish but as Polish ?

    “This would piss me off, but there wouldn’t be a whole lot I could do about it.”

    so are you recognising the legitimacy of the NI unionist position ? – ie it pisses you off but you recognise that legally there isnt a whole lot you can do about it ?
    ie you have to accept it ?

    “Why only in NI, btw?”

    well i am assuming it will take an awful lot of Poles to bring the ROI back into the UK so there was no point using the analogy.

  • kensei

    “and it wouldnt bother you that 2nd & 3rd generation Irish living in Dublin will support someone other than Ireland in a sporting event ?
    I assume you would not see such people as Irish but as Polish ?”

    I would see people in whatever way thet want to see themselves. Comfortable with it. Irish, Polish, Polish-Irish, it’s all cool. If they want to be Irish and support Poland on the weekend, I don’t really care as long as they don’t cross the lines I laid out.

    Why would it bother me?

    “so are you recognising the legitimacy of the NI unionist position ? – ie it pisses you off but you recognise that legally there isnt a whole lot you can do about it ?
    ie you have to accept it ?”

    What exactly else I can do? Do I recognise the legitimacy of the Briotish presence in Ireland – not for a nanosecond. Do I recognise that the only way to change the situation is through politics and convincing people? Of course.

    It depends what you mean by accept. I don’t accept in the “Oh there is nothing I can do about it, let’s settle down and be a good Brit” sense, anyway.

    “well i am assuming it will take an awful lot of Poles to bring the ROI back into the UK so there was no point using the analogy.”

    But it rather weakened your overall comparison.

  • bob

    To the tune of the Okie, Kokie.

    You put yer right hand up
    You put yer right hand down
    Left shoulder
    Right shoulder
    Staring at the ground
    Ye do the Artur Boruc and you turn around
    And watch all the huns freak out

    OHHHHHH do the Artur Boruc
    OHHHHHH do the Artur Boruc
    Do the Artur Boruc
    And watch all the huns freak out

    Repeat over and over again.

    Would this be sectarian

  • Anna Dale

    “And watch all the huns freak out”

    Would this be sectarian ?@

    The song is not.
    The use of the insult “Hun” is possibly sectarian and definitely racist.

    It’s used by many in N.Ireland as a derogatory term to describe any kind of Protestant, not just a Rangers supporter. As I said it is also a term of racist abuse as you can see here:

    http://gyral.blackshell.com/names.html.

    If you’re trying to prove your non-sectarian/non-racist credentials, then you shouldn’t be using it, simple as that.

  • kensei

    “If you’re trying to prove your non-sectarian/non-racist credentials, then you shouldn’t be using it, simple as that.”

    Oh, I’m sure they could find another term, because it is funny 🙂

    I love football chants.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    kensei
    “I would see people in whatever way thet want to see themselves. Comfortable with it. Irish, Polish, Polish-Irish, it’s all cool. If they want to be Irish and support Poland on the weekend, I don’t really care as long as they don’t cross the lines I laid out.”

    So Kensei, you’d be comfortable to make the following statement?

    “I would see people in whatever way thet want to see themselves. Comfortable with it. Irish, British, Northern-Irish, it’s all cool. If they want to be Irish and support Northern Ireland on the weekend, I don’t really care as long as they don’t cross the lines I laid out.”

    …as you seemed to deny people their Irishness last week.

  • kensei

    ““I would see people in whatever way thet want to see themselves. Comfortable with it. Irish, British, Northern-Irish, it’s all cool. If they want to be Irish and support Northern Ireland on the weekend, I don’t really care as long as they don’t cross the lines I laid out.

    …as you seemed to deny people their Irishness last week. ”

    Perfectly comfortable with it. People can be what they like. What I was trying to get at last week is that Unionists clearly have some issues with identity. I was told someone was Irish and Northern Irish and British and god know what else. Which is cool, an’ all, but somewhat of a minefield for Nationalists.

    And I was trying to get at – if you are Irish, and you know that an NI would never be supported by half the population, why do you want a separate one when the rugby model is so successful. So, how Irish is your Irishness – interested in these sorts of questions.

    What I do have a problem with is people brandishing their “Irishness” only as an excuse to block mine.

  • The World’s Gone Mad

    Kensei,

    That’s fair enugh but last week you said the following – ‘So you are not actually Irish then? You are Northern Irish and therefore different from eveyone else?’. The person making the comment originally was not ‘brandishing their “Irishness” only as an excuse to block’ your Irishness yet you seemed to have a real problem accepting them as ‘Irish’. I’m glad that you’ve come to terms with it in the last 7 days though.

    What do you mean by ‘how Irish is your Irishness’? This sounds like Norman Tebbit and his cricket test. If someone supports a different football team to you, or has a different political viewpoint, but still sees themselves as Irish, are they Irish in your opinion? What is your definition of being ‘Irish’? (Genuinely interested – please don’t take this as confrontational)

  • Rory

    It’s a bit like Chelsea deciding to sing a song about the Battle of Waterloo when they play Arsenal,

    If Chelsea fans want to sing an old ABBA song when playing Arsenal I, as a Gunner, don’t mind. We’ll just respond with La Marseilliase – altogether more stirring.

  • kensei

    “That’s fair enugh but last week you said the following – ‘So you are not actually Irish then? You are Northern Irish and therefore different from eveyone else?’. The person making the comment originally was not ‘brandishing their “Irishness” only as an excuse to block’ your Irishness yet you seemed to have a real problem accepting them as ‘Irish’. I’m glad that you’ve come to terms with it in the last 7 days though.”

    For a start, I was playing Devil’s Advocate a little bit. For seconds, I am interested in the distinction between the two. When are you Irish, when are you not Irish, why do want a different team when you know that half the population can’t support it. Only by getting at those sorts of questions can I actually have any hope of what the hell goes on inside your mental Unionist minds.

    “What do you mean by ‘how Irish is your Irishness’? This sounds like Norman Tebbit and his cricket test. If someone supports a different football team to you, or has a different political viewpoint, but still sees themselves as Irish, are they Irish in your opinion? What is your definition of being ‘Irish’? (Genuinely interested – please don’t take this as confrontational) ”

    What I mean is – you say you’re Irish, but then you are other things as well. Where are the boundaries between them? Is it really important to you, or do the other things define you more? If you are defending your Irishness so fiercely, why the hell are you against a United team – there is an overarching Irishness that is the only thing that unites us.

    And in the end, the only way to United the Island is to find that overaching Irishness.

    The thing I havbe a hard time with I suppose is people claiming to be “Irish” while not feeling any fellowship with the rest of the Irish Nation; in fact being defined in opposition to it. Irish, Polish-Irish, Irish American, whatever – they all fundamental identify in some sense with the Irish Nation. Unionists, however Irish, do not. I don’t mind if the symbols you identify with or the songs you sing are different; Irishness should be able accomodate them all but I can’t wrap my head round that. I can understand ‘British’, I just don’t understand that.