Rascism rather than sectarianism at heart of Scottish Fitba!

Phil Mac Giolla Bhain thinks the anti sectarian legislation is wrongly pitched. Its not sectarianism needs addressing so much as rascism:

This law which purports to put manners on Planet Fitba is an object lesson in what happens when politicians get panicked in to doing something about a problem they had previously been deliberately ignoring.

After Jack McConnell’s well-meaning anti-sectarianism effort the incoming SNP government decided it wasn’t a priority.

The SNP position, intimated in many private briefings, was that droning on about sectarianism was “running Scotland down.”

Journalists were called out on their lack of patriotism.

One of the many ironies of this situation is that in “doing something about the problem” the SNP government are ignoring the real issue in Scotland.

Of course there is a problem in Scotland of anti-Catholic hatred, but it cannot be understood without also factoring in anti-Irish racism.

They are intertwined because of the history of large scale Irish immigration in Scotland at the height of the British Empire when Ireland was very much a colonial possession of the London Imperium.

Occupational parity was achieved by Catholics of Irish descent in Glasgow in 2001, in New York the same social progress was reached in 1901.

  • Margit

    It’s all sorts unfortunately. Hatred of this, that and the other. I lived there for a year, and it seemed that everybody hated everybody else. It’s difficult to distinguish between racism and sectarianism at the best of times, as they’re so often linked. The new law doesn’t address the real issues, it’s just piecemeal.When somebody speaks a foreign language on the bus there, everybody stares. Ultimately it’s xenophobia based on provinciality. Whether they’re Irish or Chinese.

  • Reader

    Phil Mac Giolla Bhain: Occupational parity was achieved by Catholics of Irish descent in Glasgow in 2001, in New York the same social progress was reached in 1901.
    Though it helps to have groups even less fortunate than yourself sharing the same city, of course.

  • Decimus


    That is another excellent example of a Celtic supporter who firmly believes that the problem lies entirely on one side, namely with the Rangers fans. For some bizzare reason the Celtic people absolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are doing anything wrong, which is precisely why the UEFA fines etc are coming as such a profound shock to them.

    It is also very interesting to see this guy playing the racist card in a situation which involves two groups of largely white people from the British Isles. The people who claim that anti Catholic hatred in Scotland is racist tend to be the very same people who claim that Protestants in NI are just confused Irishmen.

    Or perhaps he is a huge Committments fan who truly believes that the Irish are the ‘Blacks of Europe’. Even when they are Scottish.

  • Mike the First

    Surely painting the issue as “anti-Irish racism” rather than sectarianism is a self-servingly convenient way of saying it’s only one way (non-Irish picking on the ethnic Irish [Catholics]) rather than two-way (Protestants v Catholics and Catholics v Protestants)?


    “For some bizzare reason the Celtic people absolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are doing anything wrong”

    Witness the appalling statement made to the Scottish Parliament by the Celtic Trust representative in recent months, that “Huns” is not a sectarian term and means only Rangers fans, not Protestants.

    I have no dog in this Old Firm fight BTW, can’t stand it whatsoever.

  • Reader.
    Here is Prof Devine on the subject.


  • Mike the first:
    To accept the “sectarian framework” is to ignore the ethnicity and the demographics of 20th century Scotland.
    An ethno-religious minority was systematically socially excluded for much of that century in a way that did not happen to Irish Catholics in England on the same scale.

  • sonofstrongbow

    See you Jimmy we’re a’MOPEs the noo, ye Hun b******.

  • Bluesnaw

    More revisionist nonsense from Phil, who seems to know very little of Irish immigration patterns to the UK during the nineteenth century.

    There is little or no historical evidence supporting the notion that the vast majority of Irish immigrants came to Scotland during that century as a result of the famine (something oft repeated by Phil for effect) but there is evidence for great swathes of Irish industrial migration to these shores in the same period.

    On the question of economic parity (if such a thing exists outside the confines of Phil and Professor Devine’s fertile imaginations) why it is that he always uses such expression in the context of a piece on racism and intolerance, when we know full well these things are driven by many complex social and economic factors? Not just intolerance. I wonder why?

    He speaks of racial intolerance largely directed at Irish people in a society where racial intolerance outstrips sectarian intolerance by a huge margin, yet the government’s own figures show that “White Irish” are statistically the least discriminated against group. Less than one half per cent of the population, and thirteen times less than the group labelled: “White British!” What say you, Phil?


    Scotland is a country where, by the government’s own statistics, marginally more Catholics indulge in sectarian hate crimes per capita than Protestants (if you make the reasonable assumption that Catholics attack Protestants and vice versa), yet Phil constantly peddles the myth that Catholics are the victims.


    I would take everything Phil says with a pinch of salt. His ramblings are specifically designed to deny, deflect and create the illusion of a country rife with hatred for the Irish and, in particular, Irish Catholics.

    And his language is specifically designed to appeal to impressionable young Catholics, perpetuating the myth that disenfranchisement is a part of Scottish society…. It isn’t.

    I’ve challenged Phil to a public debate on many occasions, but he has never had the guts to even reply to me. He even blocks people with a reasonable contrary viewpoint on his website. So, Phil, I throw down the gauntlet yet again – you have my e mail address.

    If Phil is true to form, he won’t even bother to reply to me. He’ll quietly let this piece dissolve into the ether, whilst quietly congratulating himself on having peddled ever more half-truth and lies about a country that gave him as much opportunity as anybody else.

    Try not to fall for his mendacity and revisionist rubbish!

  • Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

    Why do Celtic fans so hate Rangers?

    1. Because they are Scottish whilst Celtic are “Irish”?
    2. They are your city rivals?
    3. They are Hun?

    If it is point 1) then you might have an argument.

    Plague on both your houses.
    If both your excuses for religious bigotry disappeared off the earth tomorrow, then Scottish football might be a bit poorer financially but so much better off morally.

  • Cynic2

    The whole Republican and Loyalist agendas are built on racial myths.- that we are different people. We are not. We have all been (secretly) sleeping with each other for far too long for that

  • ayeYerMa

    I wish Salmond’s position of ‘droning on about sectarianism was “running Scotland down.”’ were more prevalent in Northern Ireland as that’s exactly what happens here.

    We have far too many “peace processors” droning on and on and on about “sectarianism” rather than actually just moving on and getting on with things and our normal lives and a process of normalisation.

    We also have far too many people still using the old tactic of shouting “sectarian!” for their own purely sectarian purposes of trying to have a sectarian dig at their opponents. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain is a perfect example of this, and we have many more in Northern Ireland.

  • Mike the First


    But where does anti-Protesant sectarianism fit into the “anti-Irish racism” narrative? All the “Hun” stuff for example?

    Also, as others have said, Scottish and Irish people aren’t of different race by any stretch of the imagination.

  • redhugh78

    Mike the first,
    ‘But where does anti-Protesant sectarianism fit into the “anti-Irish racism” narrative? All the “Hun” stuff for example?’

    It doesn’t, because under Scottish law ‘hun’ is not considered sectarian, and is precisely why the Procurator Fiscal dropped the ‘religiously aggravated’ part of a ‘breach of the peace charge’ for this banner.

    So Mike the first, if you like the ‘gers’ you’re a ‘hun’ to a Celtic fan, just as Hearts’ fans are knowwn so affectionately as the ‘mini Huns’, nothing to do with religion.

  • keano10

    All of this sanctimonious nonsense from the SNP really takes the biscuit. I vividly remember a Newsnight investigation some years ago where SNP activists had blatantly played the ‘Orange Card’ to win a by-election against the sitting Labour candidate who came from a Catholic background.

  • BluesJazz

    So Mike the first, if you like the ‘gers’ you’re a ‘hun’ to a Celtic fan, just as Hearts’ fans are knowwn so affectionately as the ‘mini Huns’, nothing to do with religion.

    This has been blown apart by the Suarez judgement, that what is acceptable in Uruguay, is not acceptable in the UK.

    Negrito or Hun may be a term of ‘affection’ in Uruguay or Scotland. But the FA (rightly or wrongly ) see different.

    Perhaps the (almost certain) clarification of innocence on the part of John Terry – just before the Euro 2012 games- will enlighten us.

  • Reader

    redhugh78: It doesn’t, because under Scottish law ‘hun’ is not considered sectarian, and is precisely why the Procurator Fiscal dropped the ‘religiously aggravated’ part of a ‘breach of the peace charge’ for this banner.
    The banner looks like an old fashioned mural – hat, green tie, green, white and orange flag – it looks specific – so who is the guy on the banner, and what is his connection to soccer?

  • Referring to Prof Devine as “an intolerant racist” is offensive and nonsensical.
    I would also dispute that description being attached to myself.

  • Govan Cross

    Get the stats right first. In 2010/2011 there were 693 incidents of religiously motivated crimes/offences, which is 693 too many.

    In Context to the overall crime figures in Scotland though it is a miniscule problem, that is disproportionately reported in Scotland’s Media. Scotland’s total volume of reported crime and offences for the most recently reported period of 2009/2010 is 901,763 (source Scottish Government Crime Trends report).

    The percentage of sectarian crime of all crime in Scotland sits at 0.077%

    I’ll let that sink in.

    Then repeat it.

    The percentage of sectarian crime of all crime in Scotland sits at 0.077%

    Right, now the picture is starting to become clearer I’ll move on.

    There were more firearms offences in Scotland in 2009-2010 than Sectarian Crime (839)

    There were ten times more crimes of indecency than Sectarian Crime in the period (6548)

    There were six times more racially motivated crimes in Scotland than Sectarian (4513)

    The reportage of sectarian crime itself is an issue.

    As there has been no detailed breakdown of Sectarian Crime since the 2004-2005 period , the spin put on that set of statistics, which was misleading at the time, is becoming accepted as evidence that sectarian crime is a Protestant Problem.

    Perhaps those statistics should be revisited.

    Then, as now, the media allowed the RC Church to misrepresent the data, spin it, and effectively lie about the content of it.

    Lets recap. In that period, there were 726 cases. Of that 726, 64% were “Anti-catholic”, and 31% were “Anti-Protestant”.

    The reports that followed included the headlines “Catholics bear brunt of Sectarianism”, and “Catholics 5 times more likely than Protestants to be victims of Sectarianism”.

    Given that no-one bothered to add context such as religious profiling within the Population these statements were wildly inaccurate, as were counter claims that 15.9 % of the Population (Catholics) could be responsible for 31% of all sectarian crime therefore twice as likely to commit sectarian crime than Protestants.

    The reality is that the vast majority of the sectarian offences and crimes took place in the West of Scotland. The population split in Glasgow and surrounding areas is closer to a 60/30/10 split, with 60% being nominally Protestant, 30% being nominally Catholic, and 10% being other, which almost exactly matches the ratio of Sectarian crime, ie that both sides are equally culpable.

    What this tells you is that Sectarianism is most certainly a two way street, but that there are agendas at work both from the Catholic Church in Scotland, and from the Media to present it as an Anti Catholic agenda.

    One can only wonder as to the motivation to do it.

  • Bluesnaw

    I see Phil has managed to trot out the old Catholics are more likely to be subjected to sectarian behaviour than Protestants – predictable if nothing else.

    However, we have a problem, which isn’t one of complex mathematics, or multifarious statistical analysis; but more about simple arithmetic coupled with the deceptive art of parading headline numbers as proof positive – something Phil is a past master of.

    In his desperation to disprove his null hypothesis, he forgot one very important fact: there are approximately three times more Protestants in Scotland than Catholics.

    Given that we’d expect to see a normal distribution of behaviour patterns across both communities, I’d be very surprised if Catholics weren’t subjected to more sectarian abuse than Protestants… just as I would expect to see the same ratio of Protestant to Catholic red heads, train spotters, alcoholics, drug users and philatelists.

    Anything different would indicate a sub narrative that required further investigation. Take a look at the figures again and tell me there’s a representative ratio of sectarian behaviour? If anything, it proves that one side is as bad as the other.

    But that’s not the way Phil, or the rest of his mischief making chums behave. His modus operandi is to take a few selective headline statistics and peddle them to anybody daft enough to listen as proof positive that Scotland is awash with anti-Catholic and anti-Irish sentiment. It isn’t!

    I cite a piece he did on Rangers Football Club in his weblog, where he espoused the notion that Irish Catholics were most unwelcome at Ibrox, and they (Rangers) could only ever convince people that their policy of non-Catholic signings was truly at an end when this stopped.

    Fair enough, nobody should have any problem with that.

    However, on further investigation all wasn’t quite what it seemed. When comparing the number of Southern Irish Catholics signed by Rangers against the number of Northern Irish Protestants signed by Celtic to that point (a fair comparison, I’m sure you’ll agree) we discovered that Rangers had actually signed two to Celtic’s one.

    Of course this was completely missed by him… for reasons only he can answer.

    Furthermore, there was a sub text to all of this, where players offered the chance to play for the “other side” often refuse on account of the grief they might incur from members of their own community… for reasons I’m sure doesn’t need explained in this arena.

    Now, for me, that was the crux of the story, and something most journalists may have thought worthy of bringing to the public conscience.

    Not Phil. Presumably he saw unfounded and cheap point scoring as more valuable currency.

    Look, No level of abuse is acceptable, but for the sake of honesty and sanity, we really need to get things in perspective and, for once, engage in honest and open debate… something Phil seems reluctant to do.

    As long as we have the knuckle draggers on both sides, we’ll have difficulty eradicating this problem. However, as long as we have journalists unprepared to engage in honest and open debate, whilst engaging in revisionism and distorted truths, we’ll never eradicate it.

    Phil, over to you…

  • ayeYerMa

    Ye just dinny hae a clue lads! Supporting the IRA is apparently “political not sectarian”. That’s a strict definition of :/ sectarian=relating directly to religion when it suits, and sectarian=relating to wider ethnicity (“race” is the wrong word) when it also suits a different agenda! :/

    Phil Mac Giolla Bhain is just another of many to use this deceptive doublespeak.

  • Mike the First


    I note that you completely ignored my first question, that of anti-Protestant sectarianism, and chose to focus on the second alone, which related to just one example of this.

    Firstly, “Hun” IS a sectarian term of abuse, and DOES refer to Protestants. (Witness various pieces of “Kill All Huns” graffiti in Belfast). Nil by Mouth recognise this, by the way: http://nilbymouth.org/history/

    Secondly, have you anything to say about anti-Protestant sectarianism? (terms of verbal abuse like “Orange b*****d”, physical attacks, etc)? Again, where do these fit in the anti-Irish racism narrative?

  • Mike the First


    The article you have posted shows that 58% of religious hate crimes in Scotland were directed against Catholics, and 37% against Protestants.

    An assumption might therefore be that 58% of these hate crimes were Protestant-on-Catholic, and 37% were Catholic-on-Protestant.

    Religious affiliation figures for Scotland show the Catholic population at 15.9%, Church of Scotland and “other Christians” at 49.2% (and no religion at 27.5%). Govan Cross above covers the religious breakdown of the West of Scotland specifically.

    So again, how does that fit into your “one side as victim, one side as perpatrator” narrative of sectarianism in Scotland actually being “anti-Irish racism”?

  • http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/political-news/crown-office-admits-weve-destroyed-sectarian-crime-statistics.15373008

    A Catholic Church spokesman said the Crown Office action was “deeply unfortunate”.

    The lost data covers most of 2005-2009.

    So the various posters here are probably correct there are no problems with anti-catholic hatred or anti-Irish racism in modern Scotland.
    Everything is fine.

  • Bluesnaw

    You’ve been challenged time and time again to provide examples of the manifestation of the rampant intolerance you speak of, but to date you’ve failed to deliver anything other than a few selective stats, that on their own mean nothing.

    It may well be that the records between 2005 and 2009 are lost, stolen or left in a town centre car park somewhere. However, it’s been shown on numerous occasions that government ministers and civil servants are notoriously slip shod when it comes to such sensitive information.

    There is barely a month goes by where news at ten doesn’t report missing NHS records, police files turning up in a skip, or social security lists found stuffed in some old dear’s hedge.

    I detect from your sarcasm that you think this “record gate” scandal is part of a conspiracy to hide something, and that these files may, indeed, reveal a litany of anti-Catholic/Irish activity between said dates?

    Fair enough, but what’s to say the lost records don’t show the exact opposite, and somebody with similar feelings to your own decided to “loose” a bunch of records that showed rampant anti-Protestantism?

    Given that records between 2000 and 2005 and after that date, including the most recent – 2010 to 2011, show a consistent pattern to that already discussed, I find both scenarios equally preposterous; but not as preposterous as your perpetual desire to blacken the good name of Scotland based on nothing more than the discursive ramblings of a fecund imagination.

  • redhugh78

    Mike the first,


    hun = rangers.