They’re not singing any more (in Old Firm football)…

Kevin Rooney writing in Spiked notes:

Stephen Birrell, a Rangers fan, was jailed for eight months for expressing his hatred of Celtic fans on his Facebook page. In Scotland, sadly, what people say and write is now sufficient criteria for imprisoning them, as the centuries-old distinction between words and action is abolished.

He continues:

The Scottish police have persuaded UEFA to announce an investigation into ‘illicit chanting’ by Celtic fans at a home game against French side Rennes. Likewise, Rangers Football Club was recently fined £35,000 and their fans banned from their next European game for singing sectarian songs during a match against PSV Eindhoven. Not to be outdone, the Scottish Premier League has launched an official investigation into the singing of offensive songs by Celtic fans at a Hibs game that took place several weeks ago. Things have now reached such ludicrous levels that last Sunday’s Scottish newspaper reports on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic game devoted more column inches to the songs sung by Celtic fans than to the teams’ performance on the pitch.

Hmmm… And far from generating united civil liberties response, the fans of both clubs are falling over themselves to turn each other in to the police:

Far from reducing ‘sectarian conflict’ in Scottish football, the new censorious laws and the accompanying police campaign have led to a dramatic increase in tensions, with fans now encouraged to spy on each other, to take offence at every comment, and to report rival fans to the police. In a very vicious cycle, the more rival fans are coaxed and cajoled into reporting offensive incidents, then the more arrests there are, and the more the authorities can cite such increases in arrests as a justification for tough new laws and sanctions.

  • keano10

    Several points worth discussion here:

    Firstly as both a Belfast Republican and a football fan, I could’nt care less about Celtic Football Club. I have always felt that the raw naked sectarianism within the city of Glasgow far surpasses anything within the present day North of Ireland. It’s a bit like the land that time forgot to be honest…

    Also, for all of the Republican bands and societies that exist within Glasgow one would be hard pressed to find any list of “martyrs ” to the Irish Republican cause from within that city. I know that i wil probably incur the wrath of some fellow Republicans by this statement, but I dont see Celtic as having anything whatsoever to do with any representation or indeed advancement of Irish Republicanism. The situation with Rangers and Ulster Loyalism is probably even more absurd.

    To be honest, both Celtic and Rangers have become a bit of an embarrasment to their respective ‘traditions’.

  • john

    Lets not forget the green brigade and the Rangers equivalent represent a small but unfortunately very vocal minority. Both clubs are dealing with the sectarian nuts but obviously more needs to be done.

  • between the bridges

    at least this guy was honest enough to admit to singing the odd party tune!!

    Mr Wilson said: “Let me be open with a voluntary confession for the Song Police.
    “I know all the words to Kevin Barry and I have been heard to sing them.

    Read more: http://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/scotsol/homepage/news/3971483/Celtic-director-I-sang-IRA-songs.html#ixzz1fJh102mm

  • Tweedybird

    Keano10; “To be honest, both Celtic and Rangers have become a bit of an embarrassment to their respective ‘traditions.'” That’s the problem there shouldn’t be any “respective traditions” in sport, more-so, football.
    Could you please educate the uneducated Keano10, What do you mean, please explain =” one would be hard pressed to find any list of “martyrs ” to the Irish Republican cause from within that city.” is this a prerequisite to be a true Republican ?

  • Decimus

    It’s interesting that this only became ‘ludicrous’ when the spotlight was switched onto Celtic. Rangers fans have been vilified now for years about their chanting etc and there were very few voices raised in their defence.

  • Reader

    Decimus: It’s interesting that this only became ‘ludicrous’ when the spotlight was switched onto Celtic. Rangers fans have been vilified now for years about their chanting etc and there were very few voices raised in their defence.
    The new laws slotting into place will eventually make this charge and counter-charge measurable. I suspect the the old fashioned response to the other side singing offensive songs was to be even more loud and offensive in retaliation. Now the trick will be to record the words and make a complaint.
    The laws have maybe a year to make a real change in behaviour or they will just become ridiculous. In the meantime, it’s going to be difficult to be sympathetic to the individuals that get scooped up. Maybe a bit of recognition that the sentences are OTT.

  • Mike the First

    I think there’s a section of both clubs’ support that doesn’t even realise the bigotry of some of their repertoire.

    Take this from the Jeanette Findlay, head of the Celtic Trust, at the Scottlish Parliament:

    http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/National/article/17075/hun-not-a-sectarian-term-celtic-fans-chief-tells-committee.html

    “It’s never been used to refer to a Protestant or any member of any religious group — it refers to a Rangers supporter,” she insisted.

    “And up until a few years ago Rangers supporters referred to themselves as Huns. It doesn’t have any religious connotation whatsoever, it never has.”

    Astounding. Someone should really bring her to Northern Ireland and show her some “KAH” graffiti, for example.

    So I think there’s a bigoted hardcore and a simply ignorant or semi-ignorant penumbra like Findlay who merrily propogate sectarianism.

  • redhugh78

    Decimus, ‘Illicit’ chanting does not equal ‘sectarian’.

    One Gaslgow clubs fans’ sing about wading up to their knees in ‘fenian blood’ and sing racist songs telling people of Irish descent to ‘Go Home’, the other clubs fans sing politically motivated songs which include references to the IRA (Offensive to some,yes, but not a Sectarian offence).

    There are attempts by the Scottish media to try and paint the Celtic fans with the sectarian brush that Rangers fans and club have plastered themselves in for decades but it doesn’t stand up to evven minor scrutiny.

    p.s if there’s a club in Glasgow with a problem with sectarianism, I’d say the one that had in place a sectarian signing policy since its foundation until quite recently might be the one.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    keano10 wrote:

    “the raw naked sectarianism within the city of Glasgow far surpasses anything within the present day North of Ireland.”

    If you can show anything at all comparable with the UVF attack on the Short Strand in June this year then you might have a point.

  • Mike the First

    Redhugh78

    Where do you reckon the likes of Jeanette Findlay’s comments fit into what you’ve said above?

  • Decimus

    It is also bemusing to see republican commentators attempting to claim that chants and songs in favour of the people who brought us Kingsmills etc are non sectarian.

  • Harry Flashman

    I think we’re missing Mick’s rather obvious point, this isn’t about two thick-as-poundies groups of football fans, it’s about the right to free speech.

    I mentioned this before on the burning poppies/koran/flags issue, free speech is very valuable and if maintaining it means a few buck eejits get to behave in an offensive manner then so be it.

    We cannot allow our governments to jail us for expressing opinions they do not like, that applies to singing “Ooh ah Up the Ra!” and the “Famine Song” as much as it does about anything else.

    Big Brother does not know best, resist.

  • SethS

    The problem for Celtic and Rangers is that like it or not their prominence and their wealth largely derives from the sectarian nature of football in Glasgow. Take that away and they’ll be back with the also-rans. That said that might be better for Scottish football as a whole.

  • Decimus

    Harry,

    I largely agree with what you are saying. My point though is that many of those who are now wailing in defence of the Celtic fans are the same people who complained the loudest about ‘the famine song’. In their minds the republican songs are perfectly legitimate, but the loyalist ones are not. In their arrogance they vehemently refuse to acknowledge their own sectarianism. This is because they have alloted the crime of sectarianism to their Prod enemies.

  • Harry Flashman

    Decimus, you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between the Tims and the Huns when it comes to their respective pop-eyed sectarianism, it’s just that the Prods are a wee bit more honest about it in my experience. As Keano10 points out the Scots hangers-on to Ireland’s problems are a truly ghastly bunch.

    However, anyone going to an Old Firm game does so in the full knowledge of what to expect when they get there, they aren’t attending a Women’s Institute cake sale. It is utterly absurd and downright intolerable for the state to intervene and jail people for what is simply an expression, no matter how grotesque, of a sporting rivalry.

    If we go down that route then we give the gubmint the right to intervene in churches, mosques, debating societies, book clubs, political rallies, you name it and arrest people saying things that others (usually government officials) might deem, wait for it, “offensive”.

    If they are conspiring to commit real, actual crimes lock ’em up, if they’re just pissing off the other side, leave ’em to it.

  • SethS

    Indeed, whilst saying such things on your Facebook page is pretty dumb, does it really amount to an imprisonable offence.

    I haven’t seen the offending post It would have to have been pretty horrendous to warrant this type of punishment. Not sure I’d want o be part of an independent Scotland if this is the line they are pursuing.

  • BluesJazz

    Jeremy Clarkson is very lucky he doesn’t live in Scotland.

  • Greenflag

    Perhaps the Glaswegian ‘retards’ might take a leaf from these clubs who have eh ‘moved on’ as one might say .

    Manchester United (England)
    Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
    Lens (France)
    Genk (Belgium)

    The tale of a football match played on a First World War battlefield during a Christmas Truce in 1914 will be honoured by young players from four of Europe’s top clubs this week in the Belgian town of Ypres.

    The Christmas Truce tournament, which starts on Friday and is organised by the Premier League, features junior sides from English champions Manchester United, Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, Genk from Belgium and France’s Lens.
    Former Man United and Scotland striker Brian McClair, now the director of the club’s Youth Academy, is leading the United contingent to the tournament.

    “I think it’s important to understand that football has a wonderful power to build bridges,” said McClair, who won four league titles with United.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1201/christmastruce.html

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flashman ,

    ‘ if they’re just pissing off the other side, leave ‘em to it.’

    Indeed HF but then human beings are notoriously inconsistent as to how they react to being ‘pissed off’. .Reactions vary from a non consequential shoulder shrug -a back turning -a suitable or unsuitable riposte -fisticuffs – mob violence – gunfire – stabbings and then the full scale ethnic bashings , burnings etc etc .

    When the outcome is likely to involve more than just ‘individuals ‘ then the government has a responsibility to act to prevent disorder likely to lead to death and destruction and breaches of the peace .

    For my part I can take any amount of being ‘pissed off by another’s comments up to a point ‘ I can’t define that point exactly but I do know when it is reached . It’s usually at the point when the knuckles on my right fist are smarting from the pain resulting in the contact between my fist and the bloodied nose of the face looking up at me from the pavement .I’ve never found it to be the case that I need to repeat the exercise on the same individual .Some folks I regret only learn the hard way 😉

  • redhugh78

    Mike the first,

    Jeanette findlay’s comments are quite correct in my opinion,

    A ‘hun’ is a term used to describe fans of Glasgow Rangers FC.
    In fact Rangers supporters used it in the past to describe supporters of Celtic believe it or not.

    Decimus, the Scottish courts have already ruled that songs containing references to the IRA are not a ‘sectarian’ offence.

    The point remains tho, when the evidence is examined it’s Rangers that have the problem with sectarianism not Celtic.

  • Red Lion

    For crying out loud, redhugh 78

    The Old Firm exists on a quagmire of sectarianism and tribalism.

    Its attitudes like yours ‘its not us its themmins’ that perpetuate the nonsense and justify your own groupings shortcomings.

    Yes, redhugh78, all celtic fans are angelic, and before anybody bites back, all rangers fans are whiter than white.

    Lets just watch English football, where the emphasis is on the football.

  • Mick Fealty

    That may or may not be true (some effort to prove something you clearly believe would be useful), but both clubs are being targeted.

    As one unionist friend out it to you both need each other. If only to gloat. Ask any Glaswegian taxi driver! Most of the rest of Scotland don’t ‘get’ you.

    Thats why you’re both being put in the legislative vice together.

  • Decimus

    Decimus, the Scottish courts have already ruled that songs containing references to the IRA are not a ‘sectarian’ offence.

    Redhugh,

    I believe that ludicrous decision is being revisited. Hence the panic amongst the Celtic apologists.

    The statement above of course further reinfoces my point, which is that Celtic supporters genuinely do not believe that they are part of the problem. That is why they felt perfectly comfortable with complaining about loyalist songs whilst continuing to belt out their own offensive sectarian repertoire.

  • Turgon

    I am inclined to Harry Flashman’s view regarding freedom of speech but there are limits. All too often the limits have been too lax in sport both on and off the pitch. The enforcement of these laws is in danger, however, of going in the opposite direction.

    redhugh,
    “One Gaslgow clubs fans’ sing about wading up to their knees in ‘fenian blood’ and sing racist songs telling people of Irish descent to ‘Go Home’, the other clubs fans sing politically motivated songs which include references to the IRA (Offensive to some,yes, but not a Sectarian offence).”

    If one follows your bizarre logic then Rangers fans singing about being up to their knees in “fenian blood” are only referring to members of the fenian brotherhood and maybe the current IRA: not Catholics in general.

    Of course the above is utter nonsense but it is just as sensible as you claiming that “Hun” refers only to Rangers supporters. The reality is that both Celtic and Rangers seem to contain both football fans and bigots. I remember a woman on the TV here once saying she was not a football fan but was a Celtic fan. There are equally pathetic individuals on both sides.

  • Decimus

    Who can forget the deep joy of seeing a GAA fan wearing a Celtic top bearing a placard with the legend “No to Foreign games” outside Croke Park when they dared to suggest allowing rugby games etc within.

    http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSTgS1N_w6ityLlePeSj1ETR7h7zT1HUnxE-TdkCjiU2l5CYUCI

  • antoinmaccomhain

    @Also, for all of the Republican bands and societies that exist within Glasgow one would be hard pressed to find any list of “martyrs ” to the Irish Republican cause from within that city.

    Irish Citizen Army-Cumann na mBan volunteer Mairéad Ní Scinneadora was the only Scottish
    Woman,iirc, to fight in the Rising and she later reflected that Dublin was the worse place in the world,-“I do not believe there is a worse place in the world.The street was “a hollow full of sewage and refuse”, and the building “as full of holes as if it had been under shellfire”.

    Volunteer T. O’Connor,Liverpool,died fighting for the Anti-Treaty side in the Civil-War. IIRC,that’s the extent of the support from our ‘exiled children in America’,and our ‘ gallant allies in Europe’.

    Fuair siad bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann.

    Vol. Arthur Weekes England April 28 1916
    Vol. Charles Corrigan Scotland April 28 1916
    Vol. James Connolly Scotland May 12 1916

    Volunteer Mairéad Ní Scinneadora- “It was dark there, full of smoke and the din of firing, but it was good to be in action. I could look across the tops of the trees and see the British soldiers on the roof of the Shelbourne. I could also hear their shot hailing against the roof and wall of our fortress, for in truth this building was just that. More than once I saw the man I aimed at fall.”

  • redhugh78

    Turgon,
    That would be fine except you see both examples are already covered and ruled on previously by Scottish courts.

    The ‘up to our knees in fenian blood’ ditties are deemed sectarian while any reference to the IRA are not.
    That’s the law not my logic.

    The ‘two sides of the same coin’ argument doesn’t wash when you examine the facts.