Green Day

celticThere is something strange about the latest controversy to surround the Green Brigade. This section of the Celtic support have produced far more provocative material than that unfurled against AC Milan on Tuesday – “blood stained poppies” spring to mind. The display at the centre of the storm this time was comprised of two paintings, one of Bobby Sands and one of William Wallace, and a few lines of poetry that attempted to equate the struggles of both men.

The first sign that the banner display had upset the apple cart came from UEFA, who brought Celtic up on disciplinary procedures for a breach of the ban on displaying ‘political symbols’ inside the stadium. The club, in the shape of Chief Executive Peter Lawwell, leapt on the opportunity to attack the fans and distract attention from a poor performance and the result in the match. The Scottish media gleefully piled on, backing the narrative that the Green Brigade were a liability, ‘living in the past’ and should have been dealt with long ago. The Glasgow Evening Times helpfully boiled down the rather complex message contained in the display for its readers: it was an ‘IRA Banner’, they assured them.

The ever-menacing presence of the Provisionals notwithstanding, the meaning of display has been all but ignored in the coverage. In fact, the display was not primarily about the politics of Irish or Scottish freedom. Instead, it was a message directed at Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government on the day of the publication of the White Paper. Using the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act introduced by the current Scottish Government, several Celtic fans have already been arrested and imprisoned for singing ‘Roll of Honour’, a song which commemorates the 10 men who died in the second Irish Hunger Strike, among them Bobby Sands.

This song, let it be absolutely clear, contains absolutely zero “sectarian” content. There is no mention of the Queen, the Pope, the merits of Protestantism, the Virgin Mary or trans-substantiation. There is no mention of the IRA (3 of the hunger strikers who died were not members of the IRA). Millions of people in Ireland and Britain who did not endorse the IRA’s strategy nevertheless supported the campaign of the hunger strikers for political status. Bobby Sands was elected MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone in 1981 only because his campaign reached beyond Sinn Fein and hardened, physical force Republicans. Sands’ death was greeted by protests worldwide, from Paris to Iran. The US Congress passed a resolution honouring Sands after his death. He was and remains a global symbol of resistance to oppression. Yet, in modern Scotland, singing a song about his sacrifice could get you 5 years in prison. The display on Tuesday night was an effective – albeit somewhat crude – attempt to call hypocrisy on those who would laud the heroes of Scotland’s fight for freedom but denounce Ireland’s.

There is a larger tragedy here. The hostility that the Scottish Government has built up for itself among sections of the Celtic support is unnecessary, unfortunate, but it is real. Predominantly working class, with no affection for the symbols of the Union and an attachment to a radical political tradition, the Celtic support should be rich pickings for the independence campaign. Instead, the SNP’s heavy handed and culturally illiterate attempts to tackle sectarianism have already built up major barriers that it is going to be difficult to shift. It has reinforced historic suspicions about the SNP’s attitude to the descendants of the Irish disapora in Scotland that charlatans such as George Galloway have attempted to feed upon.

Even if you dislike the Green Brigade and their permanently confrontational posture, you should care about their right to dissent. The forces that want to silence them are the same forces that protect the cosy little consensus suffocating society in Scotland and beyond. Repealing the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act would be an embarrassing retreat for the Government, but it would help repair a running sore in relations between nationalists and a key constituency in Scottish life. The Bill is a solution looking for a problem. The divisions in Scottish life are no longer religious, they are political and cultural. Criminalizing the public expression of certain types of opinion cannot be part of the Scotland we are trying to build.



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  1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    All the more reason for Scotland to have a secular and republican constitution which guarantees authentic freedom of speech, assembly and belief. How things like this and the Rangers fans anti-Fenian rants are dealt with depends on how well we as a sovereign nation see beyond the historical confines and shed the cultural garbage of the exploitative British past. Currently, divisions of this kind offer an open wound for the establishment to liberally salt.

    1. Crubag says:

      “All the more reason for Scotland to have a secular and republican constitution which guarantees authentic freedom of speech, assembly and belief.”

      Including religious education?

      Banning the singing of some songs might play into a nationalist vs nationalist contretemps, and politically looks like bad timing, but it is education that will matter more. It’s the kind of wedge issue that people like Galloway are looking to exploit:

      “I recently floated, on Twitter, that Catholic schools would not survive more than a decade in an independent Scotland and I was deluged with people saying ‘yes, quite right’.”

      The SNP needs to keep its current position on this to avoid alienating potential Yes voters.

      1. Tony Kenny says:

        So freedom of expression and fenian voters are collatoral damage in the pursuit of bigots. Ergo potentially foregoing almost certain Yes votes to keep those clinging to past establishment anti-Catholicism.

        Despicable and exactly the wrong message to send out, shame on you!

      2. Crubag says:

        Tony Kenny – not sure who you’re addressing there, but I’d say the song legislation wasn’t needed – we have breach of the peace offence already.

        I think religious schools, or religion in schools, do have a place in a mixed economy of education – imposing a secular framework on all is just another form of belief.

      3. Tony Kenny says:


        Apologies. I’ve now re-read and re-read and only now getting the points you are making.

      4. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        I am a Catholic but believe that religious education is the responsibility of individual confessions to provide. The study of religion its history, doctrine, socio-cultural impact etc would be part of the secular package, instruction as such would not. The state, being “agnostic” in this regard, would not fund religious schools. Secular education would be open, intellectually tolerant and “humanistic” in the classic, not narrow contemporary, sense forming citizens free of the tribalism and sectarian mischief-making that has blighted our general culture. Catholics would make their contribution to the design along with their fellow citizens of other faiths and none. It is a fine balance of course. There would be no special weighting for Celtic/Rangers sensibilities however sophisticatedly packaged.

      5. Tony Kenny says:


        All schools in Scotland are religious. So called non-dom schools get regular visits by loca Protestant ministers.

        No clue why you felt the need to put in anything about “Celtic/Rangers sensibilities” what is that all about? Bizzare.

  2. Barontorc says:

    The circumstantial difficulties faced by the Scottish Government to get rid of the scourge of bile and sectarianism in Scotland should be faced up to by all in this country – but instead, it is exploited on both sides of the divide for whatever grubby reasons.

    Are we sure nothing to do with the UK leanings of Old Firm Board members could be connected to this situation?

    1. It’s an interesting point. The Celtic Board’s official position is actually *against* the Bill. In other words, they’re disciplining the GB for protesting something they themselves are notionally against. The Celtic Board does include however, as you mention, a Tory Lord among others.

      On your first point: the divide in Glasgow is only secondarily about ‘religion’ I would argue. It’s primarily about culture, national identity, politics and so on, I would say. But to the extent that hostility to Roman Catholics specifically lives on, it should be dealt with as any other form of discrimination is.

  3. JPJ2 says:

    I find it deeply ironic-but wholly understandable as neither group focus on Scotland-that the strongest forces in favour of the union are the Orange Order and that minority (it IS a minority) of Catholics who believe that in an independent Scotland the forces of anti-Catholicism (particularly the Orange Order lovers-oh the irony!) will be set loose on them.

    The SNP (and Yes) should continue to play that old pro-Scottish song “Forget the Old Orange and Green”. Someday these 2 facets of unionism will get the message that Scotland isn’t Ireland.

    1. Well, the reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of Scots who trace their ancestry to Ireland and are proud of that. The campaign for self-determination in Scotland can be strengthened by that fact, rather than weakened by it, if it’s able to deal with it an inclusive fashion. Sending people to prison for singing the wrong songs isn’t a good step. That doesn’t require any truck with sectarianism.

      1. TheGreatBaldo says:

        “Sending people to prison for singing the wrong songs isn’t a good step”

        Just out of interest Callum, how many folk have actually been sent down for singing songs ?

        Personally I’m all for letting folk sing whatever the hell they like….it’s like a great aural neon sign saying ‘Bigoted Morons over here’….

        I’ve little sympathy for the GB though, as far as I can see Celtic and Rangers fans are now getting treated the same way by Police the same way non Old Firm fans have long before the Offensive Behaviour Act came in.

        Where was the sympathy for example, when the Red Ultra’s (a group with no political overtones just supporting their team) were getting harassed and arrested wherever they went or mass arrest for unfurling a banner with their name on it ?

        Where was the media outrage when an entire pub full of Aberdeen fans (almost of whom had never been in brawl in their life) had their mobile phone batteries confiscated in an Arbroath pub before a Cup Tie ? On the rather ludicrous notion they would be used to organise violence between Spurs & Chelsea fans…..why they would travel to Arbroath when they were playing each pother in London the next day was never explained.

        I’ve seen Dons fans arrested for waving Saltire at Parkhead, for singing FoS at Ibrox , Dons Fans including women and children kettled onto Tube trains……

        I’m not trying to make a ‘whataboutyousery’ point here….but the idea that Celtic fans are being singled out and victimised is just nonsense…….

        And lest we forget when Celtic fans were being targeted by bigoted morons a few years back…..everyone but in particular Celtic fans were demanding the Scottish Govt do something.

    2. RevStu says:

      I wouldn’t hold your breath. The sort of folk who angrily protest that a song lionising (chiefly) convicted IRA terrorists is somehow “not sectarian”, or that it’s somehow fit for or relevant to a Scottish football match between two Scottish football clubs, are painfully resistant to such logic.

      1. Tony Kenny says:

        Well the song is about folk who would rather die (and did) rather than accept the tag terrorist. Whether you or I agree is not the point, the point is freedom of expression, a basic tenet of any society. Celtic and politics has been intertwined since birth.

        The SNP advertising banners at fitba grounds or the independence campaign I am planning at celtic park should according to you be stopped then?

        Is that logical?

      2. Perhaps you are right, but while the ‘other side’ is allowed to continue their own brand of logic failure completely free from the wrath of the Act, including uniformed members of the armed forces caught red handed (pun intended) singing inflammatory songs, we’ll never move beyond this stage of the argument, and never fail to alienate certain groups of society from others.

        These divisions will continue as long as we have a mediaeval mindset promoted by the equally mediaeval institutions which run this country.

      3. Tony Kenny says:

        If you are going to insult me and mine with the ‘other side’ bollocks at least try and provide some evidence. There is no other side to supremacist discriminatory behaviour. I wish people would educate themselves a wee bit rather than passing on lazy myth making as fact.

  4. Douglas Guy says:

    If you don’t get that singing a song with the words “Bobby Sands” in it is provocative to a significant segment of the Scottish population .. which segment dependent on the words around it .. then you are delusional. If the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act doesn’t cover this, then they need to go back and reword it so that it does.

    However, right now we have a referendum to win and a disastrous media management campaign which is making exactly zero impact on like for like polls. THIS is the graphic you should have been writing about today

    1. Thanks for reading, Douglas.

      I do get that Sands is a provocative figure. What I don’t get is why people think that being provocative should land you in jail. Advocating the break-up of the British state is provocative, controversial and even offensive to some. What limitations would you accept on your right to promote our independence in public?

      You are right that there are other, more important aspects of the campaign right now. But Glasgow is our biggest city, and there are a lot of Celtic supporters. Not all feel the way the GB do about the bill. And there are politics on the Celtic board that have to be factored in. But I don’t think you can just dismiss this. There have been marches of thousands of people against the Bill in Glasgow. Can you name *one* other policy of the Scottish government that has provoked marches by thousands of people against it?

  5. florian albert says:

    There is nothing strange about the controversy provoked by the Green Brigade last week. Nor is there any tragedy involved. There was a tragedy last Friday in Glasgow.
    When banners contain praise for an IRA hunger striker (Brendan McFarlane) and a picture of another (Bobby Sands), there can be no complaint about the term ‘IRA banner.’
    The Green Brigade knew what it was doing. It was putting itself first and Celtic second.
    Celtic will be fined and possibly worse.
    Most Celtic supporters support Neil Lennon and the Board on this issue.

    1. Florian,

      Thanks for replying. I think the extent of the furore is actually strange. I gave a reason why in the article – namely that the GB themselves have, in my view, produced more blatantly inflammatory stuff. If they get cleared out the stadium for this, I think it would be a massive over-reaction, and one that we should analyse.

      I am perhaps in a minority in that I don’t think “IRA Hunger Striker” says all there is to say about Bobby Sands. As I say in the article again, millions of people around the world hold Sands as a hero who would have little truck with the Provisionals’ campaign writ large.

      I haven’t done a poll of the fans, so we’ll have to take your word on the last point. Generally, though, I certainly agree that the GB are confrontational in a way that sometimes doesn’t help. I don’t buy this ‘putting Celtic first, though’. Which group of fans were backing the team to the final whistle against Milan when many others had already left the stadium? As I say, you don’t have to like everything the GB do to stand by their freedom of speech.

      1. florian albert says:

        It is legitimate to say that Bobby Sands was more than an IRA hunger striker. He was, however, clearly a political figure and it is that which will lead UEFA to punish Celtic. The GB understood this and chose to indulge themselves anyway.
        Freedom of speech is, on this occasion, a red herring. If I go to the local cinema and, during the film, start talking very loudly, I will be put out. When you go to a cinema, you know you are forfeiting your right to ‘free speech’ for the duration of the film.
        When you join a UEFA competition you are making a similar deal with regard to political demonstrations in the stadium.

        PS Thanks for coming btl.

    2. Tony Kenny says:


      Actually it is the prawn sandwich eating PLC CSC who are in the minority, although there does seem to be quite a few on the blogosphere going on about the ‘club’ without the nous to realise that the fans are the club. Why else would the ‘Roll of Honour’ be belted out at the start of the game v Hearts at Tyncastle in solidarity?

      1. florian albert says:

        I believe the GB was wrong to display these banners because it is against UEFA rules and it will almost certainly lead to Celtic being punished again by UEFA .
        I am not clear what your position is.

      2. Tony Kenny says:

        Rools is rools eh. No argument with that is there, I mean it’s not like anyone challenged arbitrary or unjust rules/laws, like ever.

  6. shaun says:

    Only the lowest of the low bigots see this as an IRA banner the same ppl who get offended by the Irish flag and presume every one holding it is a IRA terrorists even when it has a BRITISH MP on the front strange that init

  7. muttley79 says:

    Bobby Sands and the rest of the hunger strikers were convicted of serious offenses. They were mostly Provisional IRA members. The Scottish Government introduced the legislation when Neil Lennon, the Celtic manger, was attacked at Tynecastle. There was also bullets found at the Celtic training ground. The idea that you can separate Bobby Sands, and the rest of the hunger strikers, from the actions of the Provisional IRA and INLA is ludicrous. The Green Brigade know exactly what they are doing. They are playing straight into the hands of people who have practised divide and rule tactics in Scottish politics for decades. The truth is that most people in Scotland are not interested in the Protestant-Catholic divide in Scotland, and in fact, are getting extremely weary and fed up with both sides.

    1. Yes, they were convicted of serious offences – so was Nelson Mandela. I didn’t say that you could totally separate Sands and the Hunger Strikers from the rights and wrongs of the armed struggle. What I said was that the song refers to the 1981 campaign for political status, including the hunger strike, that drew support from a wide array of civil and political society. Sands was only able to win in 1981 because he drew support beyond traditional republicanism. There are other songs in the repertoire that make specific mention of the Provisionals campaign during the Troubles that simply don’t appear at Celtic Park any more.

      It’s interesting that you mention the Tynecastle incident and the harassment of Lennon. How exactly would the bill tackle similar incidents? The man who assaulted Lennon was found not guilty despite writing Lennon a letter apologizing for punching him. The ‘racially motivated’ aspect of the charge was dropped. As far as I’m aware, punching someone at a football match was illegal before the Bill. As was sending bombs in the post. I don’t buy your equivalence about ‘both sides’ and, as I said, the divide now is only incidentally about religion (most people in Glasgow, like the rest of the country, live secular lives in which traditional religion is marginal at best).

      1. andyshall says:

        Callum, we are all aware of the dangers of “whataboutery” in this but for the sake of the clarification do you accept the right of others to sing songs or display flags that Celtic fans may find objectionable or is this a one way street ?

    2. Tony Kenny says:

      So serious exibitions of anti-Catholicism/Irishness which is still widespread is met with a law devised to criminalise expressions of Irish cultural and historical expressions. Makes you wonder just who is doing the dividing and ruling in pandering to anti-Irish bigotry.

      1. muttley79 says:

        What are you talking about? Are you equating Catholicism/ Irishness (can Protestants not be Irish then?) with violent Irish republicanism, in this case the Provos?

      2. Tony Kenny says:


        It is pretty obvious you don’t understand the basics here. Of course it is anti-Catholicism/Irishness inless you can point out where Protestantism/Irishness is discriminated against.

        I note you failed to answer the point I made, but then how could you.

  8. I G says:

    That’s all very well…….but this isn’t Ireland. It’s Scotland and/or Britain, depending on your viewpoint. That Bobby Sands is recognised as freedom fighter in his own country or even by some Americans is undisputed, but it ain’t the case for the majority in this country. The Green Brigade (and their blue counterparts) do everything in their power to perpetuate Ireland’s problems and bring them to our country through the surrogate of football. Why anyone in their right mind wants to encourage such behaviour and its fallout here is beyond me. If it takes draconian anti-sectarian laws (even if they impinge on free speech) so be it. I’m sick and bloody tired of pandering to the imbeciles on both sides of the divide. A plague on both their houses.

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      Nice carrying on of the myth/lie about ‘both sides’ Hmmm despite me challenging hundreds of people on this issue I have yet to b e furnished with any evidence. Perhaps this myth is used by those who in an act of tacit bigotry choose to lump the victims in with the actual bigots.

      “If it takes draconian anti-sectarian laws (even if they impinge on free speech)”

      How very democratic of you, what was that about all of jock Tampson’s bairns…

      1. I G says:

        Sorry Tony, you are being a little too subtle for me. I genuinely can’t work out which side you’re on (I know you’re on one rather than the other, but it’s not obvious which, from the above). Who are the “victims” and who are the “actual bigots”?

      2. Tony Kenny says:

        It would be great if you took a care to gain a greater understanding then instead of merely passing on mythology then IG.

        I note you have failed to answer my point on the democratic deficeit you are pushing. Nice guy that you are.

      3. andyshall says:

        “and when the music stops we all shout **** King Billy and **** John Knox”
        “Men from the North, men from the South and soon there will be no Protestants at all”
        “I hope you die in your sleep Nacho Novo with a bullet from the IRA”
        “ooh aah up the Ra”

        Sectarianism, hate speach and praise for murderers. This is the bit where you now tell us they are charming Irish folk songs…

  9. Crubag says:

    “The US Congress passed a resolution honouring Sands after his death.”

    Uh, no, it didn’t.

    Tip O’Neill said it was “tragic” and that violence was not the way forward, and Edward Kennedy and Mario Biaggi said much the same.

    Is this how myths begin?

  10. muttley79 says:

    I also find it highly offensive that William Wallace is compared to Bobby Sands. Wallace effectively rebelled against the military occupation of Scotland in the late twelfth century. There was obviously no democratic option available. By contrast, Sands joined a paramilitary organisation who did not have the support of the majority of the population in Northern Ireland. They murdered many innocent people, and committed a high number of appalling atrocities. Wallace and Sands simply cannot be compared. They lived in very different times and contexts.

    1. I agree that the comparison is not particularly artful. It’s propaganda (in the good sense) – it doesn’t deal with all the complexities. You are right that innocent people were murdered by the Provisionals, as they were by the state and the loyalist groups. Again, however, Sands is not remembered because he was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. He is remembered because of the hunger strike and that it was the song in question is about.

    2. Tony Kenny says:

      Wallace and Sands are revered by much the same people around the world. Wallace was directly or indirectly involved with the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands, Sands none.

      ” There was obviously no democratic option available…”

      Why else do you think the people called for the IRA after the civil rights protesters were repeatedly beaten off the streets? The IRA could not have survived without the tacit support of the majority of folks supporting a united Ireland. Much like anti-Catholicism/Irishness could not survive here without the tacit support of the majority of folk. Witness civic Scotland up in arms about a few dozen EDL/SDL fascist types terrorising Muslims, yet when tens of thousand of fascist orange types march thorough our streets there is only hand wringing and blaming the victim as part of the problem.

      1. muttley79 says:

        What good did the Provisional IRA’s campaign do? It made an already horrible situation infinitely worse. It unleashed horrendous atrocities.

      2. Malc says:

        Tony , Have to say I do not come across much anti-Catholicism/Irishness in my day to day life. You seem to be living in the past. Most people have more to bother them and it is limited to a small set of ill educated people on both sides who seem to want to live in the dim and distant past, nursing their greivances.

      3. andyshall says:

        Thomas McElwee meanwhile was sent to prison for a sectarian attack in which 26 year Yvonne Dunlop was burnt to death after McElwee firebombed her clothes shop.

  11. muttley79 says:

    I do not think it is possible to separate Sands from the Provisional IRA though. Sands would not have been in the H blocks if he had not been convicted of an serious offense (which I think was attempting to blow up a furniture store in Belfast). The conviction was down to the actions Sands carried out through being a member of the Provisional IRA. Sands cannot be separated from the Provisional IRA anymore than Osama Bin Laden can be separated from Al Qaeda.

    1. Hmm – I’m not sure about the comparison. In fact, I think it’s quite a bad one. In any case, you could believe that Sands was legitimately imprisoned and still support the campaign for political status.

      1. Crubag says:

        No, they’re contradictions. We don’t have political prisoners in jail, only criminals.

  12. michael__67 says:

    Have never liked flower of Scotland as a national anthem, and the rules on political/sectarian expression at football games may seem harsh.

    But to equate Celtic fans signing/displaying banners about a hunger striker, with Scotland fans signing their National Anthem, or associating with one of their country’s most historical figures (whilst at the national stadium, watching the country in question) is over-simplistic in the extreme.

    And given the subsequent misunderstanding of ‘their point’ – maybe there are better ways to articulate their views.

    That aside. The GB know it’s wrong, know it’ll cause divisions between fans, and know it’ll ultimately harm the club. So doing it seems literally only in their interest. That level of selfishness isn’t what I associate with a Celtic support.

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      I was brought up to support fellow fans when they are right. What you consider over simplistic is also highly accurate in how we view historical figures. Not sure how standing up for who and what we are is some kind of own goal by the GB. The selfishness you are showing in not showing solidarity seems to be a growing trend which will turn us into a Glasgow Hibs, and just another corporate entity.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Why are the Green Brigade right though? What good does it do to fly a Bobby Sands’ flag at a Scottish football match? Would they do it at an Old Firm game? Would you defend their right to freedom of speech then? When does freedom of speech become a blatant stirring up of powerful hatreds?

      2. Tony Kenny says:


        It would help if you re-read the article because you don’t understand what we are supposed to be talking about. The BS banner was to make plain to dullards the hypocrisy in how we treat respective historical and to some controversial figures.

      3. michael__67 says:

        I was brought up to support my team. I suppose you expect to have a common goal with other fans. Whens there’s isn’t solely – wanting the best/most success for your team. I can’t say I’m too interested.

        PS – We are a corporate entity – whether you wave banners/shout the odds or not.

      4. Tony Kenny says:


        I don’t recognise your view of Celtic, neither would most fans. I wonder if you understand the ‘more than just a club’ stuff at all? Well some of us mean it, not just abuse it to exploit and cash in like the PL.

  13. futbol says:

    UEFA stewards are always looking for ‘bad’ flags or banners

  14. Those imprisoned for troubles-related crimes had been afforded SCS between 1972 and 1976. It was introduced precisely because the state was imprisoning people who were not convicted criminals, but “internees”. The state justified internment, secret trials and so on precisely because “crimes” that happen in the course of a “terrorist campaign” were seen to be exceptional. The turn towards treating the Provisionals as simply criminals and revoking SCS was about a shift in strategy by the British state. In other words, members of the PIRA were variously political criminals and ordinary criminals depending on what suited the British state.

  15. William Davidson says:

    It should surely be possible for the Green Brigade to make a coherent argument against the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, without bringing either Bobby Sands or the Provisional I.R.A. into play : they (the G.B.) always strike me as a fairly sanctimonious and self-righteous group, who like nothing better than to wallow in a persecution complex. I completely agree with some of the other contributors that Sands cannot be separated from the organisation of which he was an integral part : he was the O.C. of the Provo prisoners at the time of his death. This was an organisation which killed almost 2,000 people, maimed many more and committed a number of purely tribal and sectarian atrocities : even using their own criteria, they murdered over 600 “civilians”. As for the hunger strikers, they included in their ranks a number of notorious killers, who chose to starve themselves to death : they gave their victims no such choice. I look forward to the day when the Green Brigade will display a banner with say, the face of John Hume, a Nobel Peace prize winner and a man who spent his political career working (successfully) for peaceful change in Northern Ireland, instead of members of a group, who waged a totally futile campaign, which set back the cause of a United Ireland and made no positive contribution whatsoever to life on this island.

    1. “…he was the O.C. of the Provo prisoners at the time of his death” – He wasn’t, actually, McFarlane was. (His capacities for “command” being undermined by his slow painful death). You mention John Hume, who, of course, supported the demand for political status, which is what the song is about. It’s probably not the best place to go into the whole history of the development of the provisional campaign. I’m sure we’d agree on some things and disagree on others. Needless to say, you’re totally right that the IRA did some horrific, unforgivable, pointless and horrendous things. You won’t get any disagreement here about that.

      1. William Davidson says:

        Yes, Calum, you’re right that Brendan McFarlane was O.C. of the Provisional I.R.A. prisoners at the time of Sand’s death, as Sands was no longer capable of fulfilling that role. In a way, McFarlane makes my point more clearly, in the sense that he, with others, was imprisoned for carrying out a purely sectarian gun and bomb attack on the Bayardo Bar on the Shankill Road in August 1975, in which five people were killed and sixty injured, all, of course, Protestants.
        The Green Brigade say that their human rights are being impugned by the Offensive Behaviour at Football legislation, which criminalises them for singing a song in praise of the ten Republican hunger strikers ; the irony is that the hunger strikers and the organisations of which they were part, didn’t give a hoot for anybody’s human rights– apart, of course, for their own.

      2. William – We’ll leave aside the rights and wrongs of the troubles. We all have our views on different individuals and their role in the civil war. It doesn’t go anywhere.

        What is interesting is your claim about human rights. Of course, even if I accepted your claim that the republican movement didn’t care about human rights of others (which I don’t), this wouldn’t make the GB’s attacks on the bill “ironic”. It is the very definition of *human* rights that they adhere even to people we find repugnant. If not, they would not be called human rights, they’d be called “Temporary Privileges Accorded to Certain Sections of Society Deemed (for the moment) Acceptable by the Majority”. They’re not, thankfully.

    2. Tony Kenny says:

      Your highly jaundiced view of the part in the recent conflict played by the IRA is neither here nor there. Sands is venerated throughout the world and a hero to many. Wallace and Sands are perfect examples of differing juxtapositions depending on which position you are taking. I’m sure to you Wallace was a bloodthirsty killer who disobeyed his lord and masters and brought unnecessary war, pague and destruction to Scotland.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Nonsense. Sands is venerated around the world because far too many people have been sucked into believing the romantic image of Irish republicanism. The reality was the Provisional IRA had no qualms about stopping a bus load of largely Protestant workers, separating the sole Catholic worker, and then machine gunning these innocent people do death. They also strapped a Catholic man into a lorry with a bomb, and forced him to drive at a British army checkpoint, before detonating the bomb. It was labelled a satanic act. There are many examples of this kind.

        No, Wallace was a heroic figure. However, he lived in the medieval age, one in which there was literally no other way to resist. He never brought destruction to Scotland, in many ways he saved Scotland. My point was that it is a disgrace to compare William Wallace with Bobby Sands.

      2. Tony Kenny says:

        Again you should re-read the article your hypocrisy and partiality reading/understanding of history is telling. Many people oppose Wallace for the same reasons you oppose Sands unless you believe all of those people who slag Braveheart do so because they are fans of 100% accuracy in movies.

  16. muttley79 says:

    By flying a Bobby Sands banner at a football match in Scotland, the Green Brigade completely destroyed their own case. When they talk about freedom of speech they are referring to their right to sing IRA songs. Most people in Scotland oppose this bullshit from both sides of the divide. As William Davidson says, the Green Brigade would never think of honouring John Hume. No doubt to them he was a traitor for condemning the Provisional IRA and its actions. He did far more for Ireland, both parts of the island, than Sands and his Provo buddies. That demonstrates the mentality and intellect of the Green Brigade and their ilk.

  17. Tony Kenny says:

    I only hope that any of my fellow Celts swithering about independence, and if they would get the same rights and freedoms as their fellow citizens. Are not disabused of that notion by some of the comments here, I’m sure they mean well but historic antipathy to the likes of us runs deep.

    On the substance I disagree that the display was crude, indeed I found it highly nuanced and certainly hit home the point to many who had previously failed to get past the mythical ‘one side is as bad as the other’ stuff.

    This issue is about basic democracy and freedom of expression, it is not a la carte. It is obvious that many in Scotland do not like views of those like me, but as long as they are non-discriminatory then I fail to see why a special class of criminalisation should be the result.

    Should any cases go to the British Supreme Court (which I doubt) then that gives further power to London, given that in the original Articles of Union no criminal case should be heard in the Palace of Westminster. So the SNP are in eefect scoring an own goal in giving away our sovereignty. Not to mention the laughing stock Scots law will be made of in screwing up basic Human Rights.

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      At last you have got one thing correct. It is indeed not about Celtic FC.

      I would love you to provide any evidence of the GB indulging in sectarianism, in fact unlike you they oppose all manner of discrimination.

      Your predjuduces are pretty obvious, you dislike the fact that Irish people at times fought back against a brutal oppressive occupying power. The IRA did indulge in some despicable terrorist actions, mainly in the early 70’s and no-one excuses that. The point is Wallace’s troops also conducted pillaging and destruction. These things happen in warfare in any context. Indeed we know the British authorities were the biggest terrorists, but yet terrorism does not define their part in the conflict any more than the IRA.

      However the situation at hand is not about the IRA it is about non-discriminatory freedom of expression. Anyone who doesn’t support this is no democrat.

      1. muttley79 says:

        Tony, come on. The PIRA were committing atrocities right up to their final ceasefires. They were maiming and murdering innocents well into the 1990s. The Shankill Road bombing of 1993 is just one such example. The Omagh bombing happened in the late 1990s (although it was the Real IRA). Surely you can see the difference between the 1290s and the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s? Can you not acknowledge that many people in Scotland feel strongly that songs about the IRA, and banners of Bobby Sands, have no place in Scottish football?

      2. Tony Kenny says:


        “Can you not acknowledge that many people in Scotland feel strongly that songs about the IRA, and banners of Bobby Sands, have no place in Scottish football?”

        Of course I can acknowledge that. On what grounds and whether these people support SNP advertising boards or Yes campaign banners in the crowd is relevant though. However is this relevant to criminalising non-discriminatory political views.

        The Shankhill bomb was an accident supposed to go oof when the UDA leadership was meeting later. Hence why it went of when a volunteer was carrying it up the stairs. All irrelevant to the actual point though.

    2. Malc says:

      Tony, If they are swayed re a discussion about whether we should be introducing Irish politics into Scottish football then they are no loss and would be far better voting NO as they have are not interested in Scottish Independence. They are perfectly entitled to have their opinions on any topic but why they would try to force these foreign political opinions into Scottish football and Scottish politics seems a bizarre thing to me and I imagine many people.

      1. Tony Kenny says:


        Go and get a clue about what we are on about please. I’m not interested in being your tutor on the basics.

  18. muttley79 says:

    This is not about Celtic FC. This is about a tiny minority of Celtic supporters who, under the guise of freedom of speech, promote and glorify the Provisional IRA. This has nothing to do with independence either. There is an element of the Celtic support who wallow in victim hood, and never take responsibility for their offense promotion of a murderous organisation. The Green Brigade are intent on fueling the sectarian divide in Scotland and Ireland.

  19. Patrick says:

    Disheartened to hear so many anti Irish republican rants by Scottish republicans and nationalists on here.

    Despite the unavoidable innocent casualties that occur from any guerrilla armed revolution against a colonial power the anti Irish racist psyche is never far from the minds of some lily livered Scots. That much is certain from some on here given the hostility shown towards brave volunteers that gave their lives fighting against the sectarian artificial statelet the British colonialists established in the north of Ireland.

    However, the lack of support from sectarian pond life bigots in Scotland is nothing new, John MacLean to his credit, was thoroughly ashamed of his fellow Scots inactivity during the Irish insurrection in 1916. The disrespect Scots show towards the Scottish born Irish republican socialist leader James Connolly continues to this day.

    The Irish diaspora living in Scotland should take note before casting a vote.

    1. Tony Kenny says:


      Most of these guys are how you describe them, a mixture of scratch the surface bigotry, paternalism and outright ignorance. However we need independence for all of our sakes, to vote against our own interests would be mental. Unfortunately on reading these comments, many people from my background would be right to worry about the future. Myself and others will continue to challenge the hypocrisy inherent in civic Scotland whenever and wherever we find it.

  20. I’ve got no view one way or another on the GB. Sometimes they do themselves favours, sometimes not, that’s the nature (& risk) of the type of support they offer.
    But in this, I think they have to be much much smarter, & look hard at the distinct possibility that either they’re being used as pawns in a dirty little political game, which started before the bill was even born, or they are collateral damage.
    Celtic are the biggest and highest profile club in Scotland at the moment, but you don’t have to look long at the bios of it’s board members before you realise a weird dichotomy between the fans republican leanings & the clubs board. The reasons for that dichotomy could be mused upon endlessly, but they’re sort of irrelevant. What is relevant is that it must be like fingernails on a blackboard to some board members to see pro-Indy banners starting to be flown inside the stadium & appearing on TV coverage.
    But what can they do? Any attempt by the board to remove these directly through issued orders, would be, to put it mildly, risky, for Unionists.

    But solution lies further back, because football, and especially Celtic & Rangers, would have featured prominently on the Unionists swot analyses post the 07 & 11 elections with a view to any potential IndyRef. With Celtic as a complex entity probably featuring in all 4 corners.
    Football & especially Celtic with, shall we say some radical elements, would have been identified very early on as a potential problem. Rangers, as an asset. But how to control these, or use them to best effect?
    Well how about ensuring all potential issues could be dealt with by a vague bill enacted, on the ‘insistence’ or suggestion of the Police, following a very peculiar & suspect handbags non-event at the end of a so called shame game, which wasn’t, then have the Police, freed from control of MPs, rigorously enforce it, stir up ill feeling to create a reaction, thereby giving the ideal excuse to close down all politicking inside the ground. Clipping those screeching fingernails under the guise of controlling a bunch of lads who once had the temerity to moan about poppies & sing some songs, at a football match.
    Of course the death of Rangers was an unforeseen complication which if not circumvented would lead to a distinct lack of focus for those fond of GSTQ & far fewer Union Flegs being waved in Scotland, but true to form the media rallied round to assist in muddying the waters enough for a miraculous resurrection to be performed so that that Union Flag waving could continue unabated.

    If you think this is far fetched. Ask yourself why the the bile & sectarianism that we saw at Ibrox for their armed forces day went, & remains, unpunished. Ask yourself why, after a brief flurry when the bill was enacted, protests from that side of town have quietly subsided.

    Whilst the on other side, fans are copping it from the coppers, the media, & their clubs own board, because of a few banners whose only real fault is that some might be slightly better thought through.

    You could also muse on the 100 of years of experience the British State has of surreptitious divide & rule, without any feelings of guilt about being paranoid.

  21. Hugh says:

    it is odd they would rather fly a union jack than a free scottish flag
    Sorry cant get my head round if it were 1918 they would prefer to be seen flying a union jack than an irish flag

  22. bellacaledonia says:

    Thanks to Callum for submitting this piece and to everyone for the debate that follows. Some areas leave me confused.

    I’m perpetually confused by people who celebrate their Irish heritage who support and supported a United Ireland but don’t want an independent Scotland. It’s a form of absurdism. It leaves you supporting the flying of the Union Jack across every city in Scotland.

    I’m confused also by the idea of the institution of Celtic FC as a persecuted entity with Peter Lawell on the board of the SFA and having made upwards of £22 million last year with turnover increased by 71.0%. Taking some account of the corporate power at work here is essential.

    The sideshow of how and why catholic schools would be affected by democracy coming to Scotland is likewise a complete mystery – stoked by the ridiculous ramblings of Gorgeous George Galloway and other bizarre notions held as faith. This story desperately needs updated. I’m not sure about the downtrodden masses of St Aloysius either.

    I’m equally confused by the reaction to some postings here. ‘The Irish diaspora living in Scotland should take note before casting a vote.’ What, you shouldn’t vote for independence because James Connoly and John Maclean – both passionate supporters of independence – aren’t given proper recognition? That’s a really odd position to hold.

    Do Irish people in Scotland still face persecution and discrimination. Clearly yes,

    Do faith schools have a place? In my view, yes.

    Do efforts to combat bigotry need re-looked at? Yes.

    But can we have solidarity about the creative dismantling of the British State and a move away from its militarist past? That seems such an obvious point of convergence. What holds a better prospect of social justice in Scotland – being bound to the Austerity Unionism of Westminster politics or a new Scottish democracy.

    Here’s to all the Celtic fans (and fans of all clubs including Rangers) that are organising for a Yes vote.

    1. Tony Kenny says:


      Congrats for allowing this article to be posted. Sad that some refuse to take in the message inherant.

      Some of the comments sadden me, but don’t surprise me. A tiny example of that which might help to answer your confusion. I’m not altogether why you are confused, I understood you had a decent grasp of the background.

      The democratic objectivity and selectivity on display may worry some folk from my background, and rightly so. Scotland is really only a generation or two away from institutionalised anti-Catholicism/Irishness. The SNP have previously been accused of this also, indeed many folk wouldn’t vote SNP in the past because they feared they were little better than a UUP type party. so when the OBA came about, a law created to pander to anti-Irish predjudices is it any wonder old fears and suspicions may arise.

      Tom Devine perhaps said it best when he said Scots from an Irish background were treated as something other than Scots. I know not one of my father’s peer group was not discriminated against in the workforce for their percieved background. Thankfully now that is mostly a memory. However the folk memory remains.

      The OBA, lack of reaction to military hate fest at Ibrox, how civil Scotland has a heirarchy of discrimination/victimhood regarding how it reacts to Orange marches and EDL/SDL etc. I could point to the obvious glee the media reported celtic fans as thugs and hooligans in Amsterdam even in the face of all eyewitness evidence. The lack of interest in the exposure of police brutality in the following weeks despite being front page news in the Netherlands and Belguim is equally damming. For the Dutch it was exposing their ‘dirty secret’ in Scotland it was business as usual.

      Celtic the team is different from what is going on with the fans, although there has been a litany of events over the past decade that would certainly provide evidence for persecution involving the SFA. Cadette, dallas etc, but this is not the issue. Indeed he PLC, the current custodians of Celtic are colluding with the police in criminalising fans. I reckon that the unionists in the board are wishing to eradicate anything that stands in their way of turning Celtic into yet another commercialised identiy free entity. I also reckon they fear the impact of pro-independence campaigning, and have wrote about that months ago.

      You mention Connolly and macLean. If only some of your commentators were of the same solidarity eh? However we must be held up to the highest standards as always. Some things never change. Most folk aren’t overtly political, they will vote with their fears in mind, the way things stand there are plenty of fears.

      I will 1000% vote to smash the British state, all republicans that I come across will despite the SNP. However like I said, most folk are not overtly political. Wouldn’t it be best for the increasingly authoritarian SNP to take away the illiberal cause of concern that is the OBA. The joke that it is somehow attacking sectarianism is belied by many things. The word ‘sectarian’ is nowhere to be found, it does not address the 400 OO marches where most sectarian aggravated crimes take place. And the military hate fest at Ibrox was a classic example of actual supremacist discriminatory offensiveness going unchallenged. Apparently the police were on a tea-break, no kidding. The silence from civic Scotland and politicians are now the norm, and the witewash from the Crown office expected.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        I have more than a decent grasp of the background. I’ve written widely on the problems of sectarianism, bigotry, power and corruption in Scotland.

        I’ve written about the connections between the armed forces, imperialism and exploitation.

        I’ve had the hate mail for it.

        But when you write: “Scotland is really only a generation or two away from institutionalised anti-Catholicism/Irishness. The SNP have previously been accused of this also, indeed many folk wouldn’t vote SNP in the past because they feared they were little better than a UUP type party.”

        True true and true, though now woefully out of date.

        But even if it wasn’t it’s an odd thing to confuse the party of the SNP with the idea of sovereignty.

        You’re being asked whether you want to run your own country, not whether you like the SNP or Alex Salmond or the anti-bigotry legislation.

        To vote No you’d be voting with the institutions of the British establishment you see ranged against you.

      2. bellacaledonia says:

        “If only some of your commentators were of the same solidarity eh?” well yes, but we live in a diverse and pluralistic society and people are entitled to their views, that’s kind of the whole point of Bella.

        You can’t extrapolate from a few people posting comments you don’t like and jump to ‘see that’s what Scotland’s all about’.

        It doesn’t add up.

        We live in silos.

        We need to get out of the silos.

        I want a Scottish republic, and I want a united Ireland but we need to be able to listen to understand.

        We need to begin that process as part of a democratic renewal.

      3. Tony Kenny says:

        “I have more than a decent grasp of the background. I’ve written widely on the problems of sectarianism, bigotry, power and corruption in Scotland.”

        Hence my surprise about your stated confusions. Why then did you feel the need to say what you did when you knew the answers?

        You are asking people, mostly non-political to seperate that which can’t be seperated. The SNP are the Yes campaign. Of course there are others on board, but they have no say in what happens. Anyone saying otherwise obviously isnae closely involved with the campaign.

        Again I reckon you are demanding that the people people with the grievance separate the two issues when the SNP supporters can’t do it. Indeed many only support the OBA because it is SNP policy. It is dawning on them some may not vote Yes because of it, and still they defend it. A bit like the head of Yes communications standing as an SNP candidate in a by-election. So obviously the Yes campaign is not as important.

        I’m extrapolating nothing btw. I’m using the comments on here along with other examples, and i could give lots more in response to the stated confusion of yours, which you weren’t confused about at all it now seems. I was explicit and implicit in my comments that much of what I said was out of date, but the folk memory remains and, the ghostly spectre awakened by the recent examples I used.

        Why don’t you put the emotive solidarity question re-Connolly and Maclean to the belligerant at best, anti-Irish at worst folks on here. I’m dissapointed that you are choosing to not confront where that goes. You were happy enough to use it as a stick to beat folks from my background so please hold others to the same standard.

        Again I appreciate you highlighting this debate, but I’m not sure this should be a blame the victim for daring to complain about an intolerable situation, situation. Apologies if I come across unforgiving here but this is an issue that angers those around me, I know folks going to games to protect their teenagers. I am pissed off with the a la carte solidarity from certain sections of our society that ignores me and mine. I am pissed off with the lazy demonising of me and mine as thicko bigots, when I know the people doing so are doing it out of ignorance. Patronising know nothings…

        Ach, i’d best stop ranting now.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          The SNP are not the Yes campaign.

          The movement for self-determination in Scotland is wider and deeper than the SNP, it’s cross-party and non-party.

          If you think by hosting and publishing an article sympathetic to the Green Brigade I am ‘using it a stick to beat folks going to games’ then I am absolutely astounded.

          Vote No if you like – you’ll be voting with the BNP, UKIP, the Orange Lodge and the Conservative and Unionist Party.

      4. Tony Kenny says:


        You have obviously not read too deeply into my comments. I am heavily involved with RIC and Celts for independence.

        I have responded to your actual comments, I’m disapointed that you are ignoring my responses to them. I can only hope the Connolly/MacLean point was not lost

        Not sure why you are saying Yes is not the SNP, who else controls them? Why do you think they have been so lacking in vigour?

  23. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    Sands and Wallace are both “history”. Both are surrounded by the thick smoke of incense burned before them as idols of folk myth. Modern Scottish society has to wrench itself free of this Celtic cultic of the dead and start living in the present and planning for the future. This is a sentimental malady that requires a draconian cure.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      this Celtic cult of the dead…..

  24. I G says:

    Guys, how about a clean slate? In a modern, forward-thinking, confident independent Scotland how about we leave all this sectarian shite behind us?

  25. Frank G says:

    interesting debate………for what its worth I`m undecided about voting yes or no…….still to make my mind up.
    As a parent of two little girls who attend a catholic school …….sometimes the thought of indy terrifies me!!

    Why?? well this song debate kind of gets to the bones of it and indeed the nonsensical bill attached to it.
    There are young guys getting dragged out of their homes at 4 and 5 in the morning for singing songs that may offend !!!!!……
    The Aberdeen fan who took umbrage to getting batteries taken out of phones!! may want to join the world of being treated like a murderer or rapist or indeed terrorist………because that’s what is happening in Scotland 2013……scary.

    I can understand why people in Scotland despise the I R A ………I cant understand why they don’t despise the U D A OR U V F with the same fervour……..they committed has many atrocities if not more…( dare anyone to read about the shankhill butchers)…….possibly down to media coverage …..more probably down to a deep seated inbred bigotry…………..

    Finally to bellacaladoniia…………….to be confused…… somebody would want Irish nationalism but not Scottish????……let me think…….maybe secret societies ( and their ilk )….might have something to do with it!!!

    1. muttley79 says:

      This is a perfect example of the mindset of some people in Scotland. This article was about the Green Brigade and their flying a Bobby Sands flag at a Scottish football match. There was no mention of the actions of the UDA/UFF, UVF, LVF etc. It simply was not about them, and their equally vile actions in Northern Ireland. Some people cannot take the Provisional IRA being condemned, and as a result they accuse the people, who are offended by the glorification of the Provos in Scotland, of being bigots! You just cannot make this stuff up…

      1. Frank G says:

        Surely the article was about alienating a large proportion of voters?……I was merely trying to point out how thousands of voters might feel because of all the one sided opinion whenever Ireland is mentioned……

        I suspect reading your posts …….you know very little of the war in Ireland……………

      2. Tony Kenny says:

        “I suspect reading your posts …….you know very little of the war in Ireland…”

        Always amazes me those who reject the British narrative for Scotland yet devour it hook line and sinker for Irieland frank.

        I too am alarmed at the comments, indeed Bella appeals to us to stand by the ideals of Connolly and Maclean -which we should- whilst not asking the same of others on here. I hope he reflects on that.

        I am part of the radical independence campaign, some folk here are obviously cultural nationalist right-wing types. Sadly we have quite a few ‘flegger’ types on the Yes side but their beligerance is a minority. Indifference and passing off the ‘both sides’ lie is the majority view.

        I would rather we lived in a society where there was no religion in schools, currently all schools in Scotland are religious. However I uphold parental choice, almost all Catholic schools have a third to half non-Catholic children. So deman is high, they aren’t going away. And given the acceptable level of anti-Catholicism/Irishness still why wouldn’t some Catholic parents choose to put their children in a place of relative safety.


        Could you re-read the article, it is very informative. You will find it is not how you are portraying it.

        “who are offended by the glorification of the Provos in Scotland, of being bigots!”

        Why do you find it offensive though?

        Why should it be criminalised, or do you advocate all manner of stuff we find offensive be criminalised?

      3. muttley79 says:

        Tony: “Why do you find it offensive though?”

        “Why should it be criminalised, or do you advocate all manner of stuff we find offensive be criminalised?”

        I find songs glorifying the Provisional IRA and the Loyalist paramilitaries at Scottish football games to be repellent. This is because by and large these groups ended up murdering thousands of innocent people. What exactly has this to do with Scottish football? It has nothing to do with football. It is turgid, squalid stuff. You ask why it should be criminalised? What do you find offensive? Do you find racism offensive? Do you think people should have the freedom of speech to be racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic? If you think these things should be against the law, and clearly they should be, why should sectarianism not be as well? What is the difference?

      4. Tony Kenny says:

        Frank was right Mutley you don’t understand much. The song Celtic fans are being criminalised is about ordinary folk caught up in an extraordinary situation who refused to be criminalised. We sing songs about Irish history and politics, even of the Spanish civil war. None of it is sectarian or otherwise discriminatory.

        I get that it is not for you, however it is a basic tenet of any civilised society to defend freedom of expression. The democratic deficeit amongst my fellow Jock Tampsons bairns is alarming.

        I can understand your convictions for all if you are a pacifist, however if you wear a poppy for example then you are a terrible hypocrite? The British barbarism in Ireland could never be equalled by the small number of IRA atrocities for goodness sake. Uniquely, according to people like you Irish people were never to fight back against brutal oppression.

        I am further amazed that the same folk who would reject the British take on Scotland fully endorse that jaundiced view on Ireland. The terrorists actions by legal and illegal British forces are something you should check out.

  26. Davy says:

    “This sectarian shite” might be left behind when Scots can acknowledge their contribution to what John MacLean called The Irish Tragedy : Scotland’s Disgrace by way of a Scottish king planting Scottish settlers supported through the years by Scottish regiments and the prejudice and discrimination experienced by the Irish and their descendants in Scotland.
    Instead of constantly accusing the Irish of importing “sectarianism” to Scotland – maybe look at Scottish contribution to the development to “sectarianism” in Ireland.

    1. I G says:

      I’ll take that as a no then.

      1. Davy says:

        Not at all I G – I think it’d quite possible to acknowledge that and move on

    2. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      Scotland and Ireland are inextricably linked. What we have in common far outweighs any differences. In prehistory human settlement was from what became Scotland to Ireland and ever since the traffic has flowed both ways. The Catholic question is important in how the Scots perceive their history and culture. The British state being a Protestant bastion against European Catholic expansion embodies a distaste for all things papist. Scotland in particular in the presentation of her history has been reticent about according any positive value to the pre-reformation centuries. Those long centuries were a period of ignorance, superstition and backwardness. Of course they were no such thing. The sense of nationhood which lingers yet was formed in a Catholic context, with papal support. The ancient universities were founded in the Catholic time and one could go on. We might have ended up as region of a Greater France instead of the “knuckle end” of a Greater England but that simply reveals the promiscuity and license of events. We all have much to learn about the roots of the modern state whose genesis, we trust, will begin september next year. As an addendum, with regard to links we have ancient ties with Wales. We Scots are anything but monochrome. Alban am byth!

      1. Interesting comment, Alisdair. I understand that people want to “get away” from the link between Irish and Scottish politics. There are pernicious affects of the link. But the fact is that we have that connection. Ireland is not Peru. It is our second nearest neighbour. There are hundreds of thousands of Scots who have Irish ancestry. Scots were pivotal to the colonial plantation in the north. Scottish soldiers fought to keep Ireland linked to the Empire. Scottish identity is important to sections of the Loyalist population. As you suggest, there are extremely complex overlays of religion, history, national identity and politics. As much as I understand the “oh, why can’t we all just move on” impulse, it isn’t going to work. At its worst, it can lead to the kind of heavy handed paternalism of the Bill. It would be better to recognise ourselves as McIlvanney’s “mongrel nation” and deal with these complexities.

        The comment from ‘Bella’ is correct. The issues in the article are important – I wouldn’t have written about them if I didn’t think they were – but they shouldn’t nearly be *decisive* for anyone. Scotland’s self-determination will be a victory for everyone who lives in Scotland, whatever their cultural, political or national identity.

      2. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        Too much navel gazing is definitely bad. The future is what the referendum is about. We need to lift up our eyes and focus on that. In the context of Orange loyalism I find it rather amusing that on the news of King Billy’s victory the bells of St Peters rang out and a Te Deum was sung. Presumably another sign that you can never trust a effin’ papist. Oi veh!

    3. Malc says:

      Davy, You need to get a life

      1. Tony Kenny says:

        Great contribution there Malc.

        Davy is merely bringing in a correct historical context. Many on here come across all high and mighty know it all’s when they know very little. The common theme is a washing of hands.

      2. Malc says:

        Tony , it may be fine historically but people have to get over things at some point , continuously harking back to events from hundreds of years ago has no place in a modern Scotland. Last thing we need is a continuation of the past from Ireland. Time to move on and get out of victim mode.

      3. Davy says:

        Malc wrote :”….but people have to get over things at some point …”
        I agree Malc ….. once the root of the problem has been understood and acknowledged – otherwise we keep going round in circles – as per this discussion

      4. Malc says:

        Davy , I agree but I do think most people , idiots aside , are well aware that bad things were done in the past. We must move forward though and ensure that it is in the past and any discrimination in future is dealt with harshly. So coming together rather than harking back to the past is the way to go.

      5. Tony Kenny says:


        People’s lives are being messed with badly for the crime of expressing a political opinion. They are in and out of court. How can they move on under such authoritarian laws?

        I would love for discrimination to be dealt with unfortunately civic Scotland prefers to pander to bigots, and have apologists tell us to get over it.

      6. Malc says:

        Tony, You may be right , I gave up on football a long time ago due to the Old Firm attitudes to each other so am not exactly au fait with anything to do with the position. I do however , as a Church of Scotland person ( Ex ) married to a Catholic ( Ex ) despair of the situation in Scotland with people trying to re-enact positions from hundreds of years ago. To me it just seems incredible.

  27. Douglas says:

    Why are you wasting time about the banners unfurled at a football match when we have a referendum to win Callum? You are clearly an articulate and intelligent writer, why are you wasting your time energy with this?

    You should be writing for the new Scotland, not the old UK. which is what the politics you refer to is

    If I go to a football match with my nieces, maybe I don’t want to have to explain to them the tortured history of the British in Ireland, regardless of what I think about that sorry episode? They’re only 8 and 10 after all.

    The context of a football match is inappropriate for political expression in a country with a free press. It;s about common courtesy. ,

    The longer the campaign goes on, the more I think we’re don’t deserve independence, we’re still so happy to wallow in injustices from the past instead of building a new country.

    1. Thanks for the compliment, Douglas, and I’m sorry if my article has put anybody on a downer. Wasn’t my intention.

      Look – I’ve already said this isn’t the *most* important obstacle facing us or anywhere near it. I’ve said it shouldn’t impact anybody’s vote. What I have said however is that there is evidence that it could be a factor for some people. Now, faced with that fact (if it is a fact), we have two options: think happy thoughts and forget about it as we stroll to a Yes in September and leave our troubles behind. Or, we can face these obstacles now when we have a chance to try and address them.

      I am not trying to wallow in anything. There are a million things to write about. I have a written a few things for Bella previously, all of which don’t mention Ireland. You can read my academic article on the indy campaign which doesn’t either if you fancy it.

      1. Douglas says:

        Calumm thanks, but it is naive at best to think the referendum will be won by things like the antics of the GB. You cannot seriously expect the SNP to do anything other than strive for that which most of us want in Scotland, ie, a total ban on Irish politics in Scottish football.

        We are the heirs of Wallace, but I have never seen a Scotsman with a banner of Wallace, even at a Scotland – England game.

        My concentration is focussed this year on winning this referendum, which right now we are losing. I would urge you to put the case of the Irish diaspora – of which I am one – in a larger context. The larger context is winning the referendum and you can contribute to it, you write well.

        The antics of Scottish football fans are of minor interest. There is a whole literature to be written about the Irish in Scotland, very little has been written about that.

        But even some of the best minds get distracted and bogged down in Glasgow Celtic, and there is a book to be written about that too.

        How come so many highly intelligent Scottish Irish still articulate a nightmarish injustice like the Famine through the blunt instrument which is Scottish football?

  28. “We are the heirs of Wallace, but I have never seen a Scotsman with a banner of Wallace” – Look at the photo at the top of the screen, Douglas. I don’t want to see public expression of political views banned. Not at football matches, not in the streets, not in pubs, not at bus stops, not anywhere. “Banning” certain opinions – or circumscribing the places you can express them – is not a good idea. The whole point of the article is to put the case of the Irish diaspora in Scotland – or one section of it – in the broader context. So this is one article about a controversy in a major institution of Scottish public life. It’s not intended to be a general overview of the referendum campaign.

  29. Douglas says:

    Most Scottish football fans are sick and tired of the Old Firm.

    You come from a certain tradition? Then write about it, make a film about it, create a work of art about it, or a democratic political movement.

    But don´t please carry on shoving it down our throats, Most of us are thoroughly sick of both Celtic and Rangers, and if you will have Bobby Sands no matter what, they will have the Sash and then the rest of us will die of embarrassment..

    It´s boring and stupid, and it is so because it is not discursive: you can´t have a conversation with a banner, Callum and you´re wasting your talents writing about something which most in Scotland disdain..

    1. muttley79 says:

      Douglas, Great post. People are sick to the death of this agenda from the Old Firm. They simply cannot accept that they antagonise many people in Scotland with their efforts to bring Irish politics into Scottish football, Rather than face this reality, they accuse people who object to their behaviour of being bigots!

  30. Jim McNeill says:

    “the SNP’s heavy handed and culturally illiterate attempts to tackle sectarianism”

    Nail hit firmly on the head. Include the idiots above who so cleverly paint their own inbred sectarianism as a freethinking dislike of Catholic, sorry “separate” schooling.

    1. Douglas says:

      Jim, there is a case for Catholic schools if it means that much to the Catholic community in Scotland in my opinion.

      But Catholic schools are one thing, another thing is a banner of Bobby Sands at a fitba match. What is the problem here? The problem is one of courtesy.If I go to a football match, I don´t want to get into a discussion about Irish politics, maybe?.

      You know, I, and many others are just as much an Irish – Scot as you guys are, by genealogy, and just as green as the guys at the GB who think they have a monopoly on suffering.

      The fact that I don´t make it my badge of identity because there are more important things in life like social justice.

  31. Lochside says:

    Hi everyone, bit dispiriting that the old sectarian stuff is being vomited up. Let’s get it straight, the Irish had it bad in this country for a long time and there still are institutional organisations which continue to perpetuate it. We know who they are and they are wrapped in the Union Jack and supported by lumpen proles with clever bigoted bosses manipulating them like glove puppets. However, who is really behind the Green Brigade? They act and sound like the Glasgow Labour Party at a Fitba match. All dewey -eyed defenders of national freedom, with which I agree, but not when its about Scotland..because if they get freedom, the Prods will shut down our schools! Believe me I worked with genuine guys from Lanarkshire twenty years ago who thought like this. I pointed out that most Protestants in Scotland despise the Orange Order more than they do!
    The real problem is that a naïve SNP Government enacted a piece of brave legislation to curb the madness of the ‘Old Firm’ (which they are, two terrible twins who love/hate each other) and their disgusting sectarian hatred( by proxy) and devised( perversely?) to defend Neil Lennon and others from bigoted attacks. The fact that his assailant got off was the jury’s fault not the SGs. Unfortunately, it appears to the GB that Police Scotland are disproportionately arresting Celtic fans and not enough Rangers ones. Well I certainly think the odds should have been evened up at the ‘Forces day fiasco’ with all the squadies doing the ‘bouncy’ with the billy boys. Why were these people not arrested and Military personnel dismissed? Is that Alec Salmond’s fault? Do the SNP want to defend Rangers Football club the old one or the new one? No I don’t think so. But the Scottish Government should pull the legislation for now, and let the vested interests squabble a bit longer. Then when we are all grown up and have our own country back, we could look at some way that we can halt this divisive behaviour.
    Somebody made the point about the ‘Plantation’ being Scottish King and Scottish settlers. Well that’s true if being driven at the point of the sword from the Borders and hanging those who refused to go equates to ‘settlers’. If Scottish history was taught properly the Orange element would be ripping up their sashes and jumping up and down doing the bouncy on their bowler hats. What is more interesting is that the disaffected Presbyterian Planters’ exodus from the North of Ireland to the US led to the ‘Scotch Irish’ or Ulster Scots led American War of Independence against the crown a short 85 years after the Battle of the Boyne. Don’t take my word for it, George Washington said so.

    1. Douglas says:

      Look, I´m not in the SNP, but I can´t help but say they are being totally maligned here.

      The SNP run the government of Scotland, not the law courts. They cannot bring the personnel of the British Army who were at Ibrox to justice because that is not in their remit.

      The cure for all of the ills of sectarian Scotland is a democratic, secular republic. If you have squadies swearing an oath to the Queen, and the Queen has sworn an oath to the protestant faith what do you expect?

    2. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      The history of the United Irishmen is instructive. The standard notion that Presbyterian = loyalist and Catholic = republican goes somewhat awry. The Protestant contribution to Irish republicanism and Irish culture deserves to be recognised. Both sides are in denial when it comes to the facts of history. The discord engendered and promoted by Britishness has served the imperialists well. Like republican Ireland before us we must erase this virus.

  32. Davy says:

    Much of the objection to the GB seems to be “keep politics out of sport” –
    so for example –
    No Flower of Scotland
    No Barcelona fans supporting Catalan Independence
    No Basque or Palestinian flags
    No red cards for Thatcher at Hampden
    No poppies on team shirts
    No displays by military wing of the state
    etc , etc…..

    Or is it just…… keep politics relating to Ireland out of sport in Scotland ??

  33. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    As I wrote at the top of the comments we need a secular republic the equivalent in spirit to the French “état laïc”. It may not at a stroke rid the country of sectarian prejudice but it puts all, vis-à-vis the state, on the same footing. The state would not provide confessionally based education. Education in a particular faith would be the responsibility of the relevant religious organisations within their places of worship. The état laïc concept presupposes a balanced and unprejudiced feed into the education system. Something that at present probably does not exist in British Scotland. Education in sovereign Scotland, its content, ethic and methodology, would come within the domain of culture. Removing the sectarian bias from that culture, given its negative political and social consequences, ought to be considered essential to national renewal. We would need a very strong and focused Ministry of Culture and National Education to undo the damage caused by decades, centuries? of British state mythology. Divide and rule has been the strategy of the old order. That “legacy” must on no account be given succour in the new. There can be no sentiment in the process of nation-building.

  34. Crubag says:

    Wow, biggest thread on Bella!

    I’m doubtful about the calls for a state-sponsored educational orthodoxy, wasn’t that the prompt for parents setting up Catholic-ethos schools in the first place? Parents/voters might prefer a Scandanavian model in an independent Scotland for that reason, with communities establishing and running their own schools.

    Reading the thread, I’m surpised that there is a view that Irish political or ethnic causes have no place in Scotland. We are a multi-ethnic, multicultural country and our relations with Ireland go back to our foundation.

    Following Bannockburn, Bruce had a run at making his brother King of Ireland, as they were from a well connected Gaelic dynasty and as their campaing slogan had it had a “common language and custom.” They almost succeeded.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      The Catholic ethos has long since disappeared from contemporary Catholic education. The effect of the “Spirit of the Second Vatican Council” as opposed to the actual letter has led to a process of laicisation and secularisation. The current parlous state of Catholicism in Scotland is ample proof of its fruits. Let religious instruction return to the pulpit where it belongs. Keeping the state out of this area would be a return to sanity. Privatisation of education in the Scandinavian model, some bad reports there, would simply produce more divisions along lines of ethnicity, religion, wealth, ideology etc. Scotland is diverse but that diversity must feed a sense of unified purpose. I am commenting as a privately educated Catholic so I do know something of the matter.

      1. Crubag says:

        I couldn’t comment with authority, but I would note Scotland is changing all the time. Catholic schools have apparently had a big upswing since Polish migration began, and we might see a different approach to religion/state emerge there. Certainly their immediate future looks safe.

        There is also growing interest in founding Islamic-ethos schools and I would expect those to flourish in the next decades, again bringing a different tradition to Scotland that will shape and be shaped by wider society.

        Though Scotland will carry its inherited religious traditions forward for a good while. No-one is yet proposing removing a Christian saint’s flag as the national standard, or replacing religiously-determined holidays.

  35. Tony Kenny says:

    So to sum up:

    Scottish freedom fighters – Good;

    Irish freedom fighters – Bad;

    British narrative on Scottish history – Rejected;

    British narrative on Irish history – Accepted.

    Why do people with zero knowledge of Celtic FC’s, Irish or indeed Scottish history feel that they can pontificate with such assurance, on certainties that would dissapear like snaw aff a dyke if only they would open a book?

  36. bellacaledonia says:

    Who are you summing up?

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      Not you. However I might like to chat further on the issue, in a comradely way of course.

  37. florian albert says:

    Tony Kenny re your comment December 3rd 20.06

    You wrote; ‘Rools is rools.’ As far as UEFA is concerned, this is correct.

    Celtic beat Rapid Vienna but were then forced to replay the game in England because they broke UEFA rules. At Manchester, Celtic went out of Europe.
    The following season, Celtic were forced to play against Atletico Madrid behind closed doors. Again, because they broke UEFA rules. Again, Celtic went out of Europe.

    You refer to ‘arbitrary or unjust rules/laws.’ Are you referring to the UEFA rules which will, in all probability, be used to punish Celtic after the GB’s display last week ?

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      Easy to compare apples and oranges rather than the substance I suppose.

      1. florian albert says:

        I am not comparing apples and oranges. I am comparing three different apples; three occasions when the conduct of Celtic supporters led to UEFA disciplinary measures becoming, at very least, a possibility.
        If this is not the ‘substance’, what is ?
        I am genuinely puzzled about what else it could be.

  38. Lochside says:

    Tony Kenny, your summation does you no favours. Most have agreed with you that the Irish were discriminated against historically. Unlike you, many have made the point that the GB are wrong to attempt to derail or undermine the common cause of ordinary Scots who want self-determination by linking Bobby Sands with William Wallace. It would be like the Ibrox faithfull displaying a banner of the Earl of Monteith alongside Maggie Thatcher on behalf of the BT brigade! Whatever individual Scottish non-sectarian minded folk think about Bobby Sands is irrelevant, or any other participant in the recent ‘Troubles’. The point is: we live in Scotland. We want our country back. We want to have a written Constitution that protects all faiths and creeds and we want to get rid of allegiances to foreign causes. If the GB have problem with Police Scotland, deal with them. There are enough Celtic supporting advocates who should be happy to do so.

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      My summation could have had your name on it. Wilful historical ignorance mired in myth making that me and mine are bigots. I bet you will have no shame mourning the great Mandela today.

  39. “…we want to get rid of allegiances to foreign causes”.

    Do we? If Bella – as it frequently does – posts an article about struggles in Catalonia, or South America, or Palestine, will you be on querying the relevance of these “foreign” causes? The fact is there is an Irish diaspora in Scotland. The histories of Scotland and Ireland are inextricably linked. Commitment to Scottish statehood is not in any way in conflict with a support for an Irish Republic. The opposite is the case. It seems that some people on both sides would like to keep the issues in their discrete boxes, as if it wasn’t natural for human beings to think of the connections between things.

  40. Douglas says:

    Callum, there are two different issues going on in this thread. One is the connection between the liberation of the people of Ireland from London rule, and the liberation of the people Scotland from the same place. Most readers here are probably sympathetic to that connection, to some degree or other.

    The other thing is whether a football stadium is the right place for that connection to be made. Most Celtic supporters seem to think it is, most others who watch Scottish football don´t share that view, and our teams are much worse than Celtic. Still, we go for the game rather than the identity politics.

    They used to call Hampden Park Scotland´s unofficial parliament back in the 70´s and I think it was one of the MacIIlvaney brothers who asked back at that time what Scotland would look like if that energy could be directed to a political cause.

    We know the answer today, because we have a referendum. The demise of the Hampden roar may not be a coincidence.

    Some or even many of the causes espoused by the GB I might well share, but you should set up a political platform for it. If anybody should be leading the cause for the Scottish Republic it is the Irish diaspora in Scotland, because it´s the surest way of ending sectarianism here.

    It´s true that Celtic and politics have ever been intertwined, but the question is whether that is a good thing?If your manager has been getting death threats, then I don´t think it is…


  41. Lochside says:

    Callum, I was in error by implying generally that people should have no interest or allegiances in ‘foreign causes’. I possess very strong beliefs about other countries and cultures and I have no intention of putting anything in little boxes. I am of the Irish diaspora and proud of it, but as Douglas states, more pertinently than I have , I would have expected that Irish diaspora, like me, to use its energy to support the Scottish bid for freedom and not confuse the elements of anti-Irish and anti-Catholicism that does exist in Scotland as a manifestation of the majority view. The furthering of the cause of Irish Republicanism via the vehicle of Celtic F.C surely is not the priority over this coming year? Let’s not allow ourselves to fall into the old Celtic (with a ‘K’) trap of being divided and ruled in the face of an implacable enemy.

  42. countess fi hong kong says:

    If only it were a straight choice between republicanism and unionism – there’s anti catholic sentiment on both sides of that. For instance, you tell me how many catholics are involved with national collective for example ? There are numerous anti catholic statements coming from their adherents regarding the ‘ignorance’ of catholics,

    Perhaps the choice for us is not between unionism and republicanism but between people who’ have learned at great cost, not to persecute catholics and those who haven’t.

    Speaking more generally, Scotland has – for the majority of its existence, been a catholic country.

    The Reformation was the beginning of the end for Scots independence and yet here we are, reading various commentators as though Scottish history somehow began with the Reformation – acting as though being a son of the manse is some guarantee of being more Scottish than thou, and condescending to let us keep our little schools – now just who was the declaration of Arbroath addressed to again ? Who was it that founded Glasgow – Bill Struth ?

    As is becoming clearer and clearer, the tide of history is saying: the Reformations over – why don’t you go home ?

    1. pat says:

      Scotland is a secular country.

  43. Tocasaid says:

    Hey, are Celtic not a Scottish team?

    Sure, they have Irish connections and some of their fans have ‘Irish blood’ but so do I. Why then am I Scottish?

    Sorry, Old Firm mentality – anything but Scottish. That’s almost racist in itself.

    1. Tony Kenny says:

      Well if it were true, which it isnae. “anything but Scottish” Are some of you folk real?

      1. pat says:

        Sadly the anything but Scottish applies to more than a few Celtic fans. Some of them refuse to even support Scotland at football. Like the Rangers fans in England shirts it’s an utter joke.

  44. Tartanfever says:

    Maybe the author could tell me how many people were arrested at the ground for the unfurling of this banner by Scottish police under Scottish legislation ?

    Maybe then he could equate this to the sanctions being taken by UEFA, the European Football Agency on Celtic football club because of this protest ?

    Seems to me that any sanctions being taken are by UEFA, not the Scottish Government and any other comments are being made by the Scottish media, not the Scottish Government.

    Maybe this is where the article’s main thrust of discussion should be focused.

    I’d love someone to write an article on why Celtic and Rangers are the only club sides in the world that predominantly use the national flags of other football associations to support their team ?

    1. Tony Kenny says:


      Why did the display come about?

      Because the authoritarian SNP govt. pandered to anti-Irish bigots to create an illiberal law suppressing freedom of *certain* political expression.

      Celtic don’t fly the flag of any other football association.

      Can we not have some people who are reasonably informed to argue the Hibernophobic case for goodness sake? The ignorance in defence of the indefencible is astounding. If the SNP issued an order rounding up gay folk many of you would see the reasoning behind it.

  45. Tony Kenny says:

    I am aware Bella has written and hosted several articles that may enlighten some of the flegger types on here around Ireland and Scotland.

    How many will mourn Mandela today, how many would criminalise the history of that revolutionary who advocated violence, like Wallace, like Sands. If the SNP said so?

    1. douglas clark says:

      It is, perhaps, to my eternal shame that I do not wrap myself in any particular fleg (or flag as most of us call it). Do you refer to the flag of the Irish Republic as a fleg? Or Scotland’s Saltire as a fleg / flag dependent on which side of the bed you fell out of?

      It is all too confusing.

      Or, perhaps it is some sort of Kensington accent joke that I am unaware of..

      In any event, a bit of advice.

      Irish people have fought for the fleg as often as against.

      20.000 died in WW1, and in WW2 approximately 50,000 Free State folk fought on the Allied side.

      There are existential evils, well beyond what I would assume are your personal demons, that good folk address. Well they went to war and you didn’t.

      Assume for a moment that the Second World War had balanced on a pin head.

      Would it have been better that the 50.000 people from the Irish Republic that fought for the Allies hadn’t?

      It was that close at times.

      War baby. This is my</i) theme tune:

      Go on, listen to it.

      I have specifically had to look closely to see the machine gun bullets in the Post Office building in Dublin. As a tourist. The bullet holes are wearing away. They are an unpleasant reminder of how the British State treated, in their terms, insurrection. But Eire is now independent, as much as the USA is independent. And dozens and dozens of other countries. Meanwhile the obvious signs fade.

      Quite what your fears are are opaque. A bunch of Celtic supporters trying to take over their club's agenda? A fear that Catholics will be discriminated against?

      This is the utter pifflle that has been underlying almost every self indulgent comment you have made.

      I think you are attempting to divide Scottish folk, of Irish decent, away from voting for independence.

      I do not admire any prospective leader – and I'll give you that – of any minority, that tries to play a historical card.

      For it is always just a history of grievance. The person stating it – you Tony Kelly – have probably the nous to see it for what it is. A prejuidice that is falling flat on it's face.

      I really know no-one I am chums with that knows my religion (none) nor me theirs. Nor my wider range of friends of accquaintances.

      Modern Scots don't give a penny for your historical grievances. It is just a bit of self serving justification for you taking up arms, whether right or not. Which is what you do. You can carry this nonsense off elsewhere but nonsense it is.

      You, for reasons suspect are putting doubts into Scottish Catholic minds. And yet you deny it. As it stands, we have a free run to a home base, given the Edinburgh Agreement. We would be better together?

      Anyway, what you have done here.

      You have assumed that anyone cares about your historical allusions. Perhaps the owner of this blog does, but I don't. It is just another attempt to see everything through some magic past prism. You, sir, would do better to imagine a future.

      Final comment.

      My name is clark.

      I am not at all interested in it's history. But it might be Irish or it might be Scottish, historically speaking.

      Y'know, I couldn't give a fuck where I came from, I am only interested in where I am going.

      People like Mr Kelly are only interested in where they came from. It is always the same with people like that. History as a conflict worth extending and so on ad infinitum. It is a frankly a daft idea.

      Anyway, Mr Kelly, your contribution has been extremely thin.

      best wishes,

      douglas clark

  46. William Davidson says:

    Fascinating that this article should provoke such a large response, particularly as the content is so thin: I suppose that’s what happens when you bring Northern Ireland into the equation. As a native of that place, I lived there through the entirety of “The Troubles” , which ensured that I developed a complete contempt for both Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries and the political bankrupcy which led to them embarking on their futile campaigns to “persuade”others of the validity of their dogma, through murdering and maiming them.There was no Civil War, this was a conflict imposed on the entire community by a fanatical and deluded minority.
    I would suggest to the Green Brigade, their Loyalist counterparts, or anyone who thinks that there was something glorious, or romantic, about what went on in Northern Ireland between 1966 and 1998 to get a copy of that mighty tome, viz, “Lost Lives : The Story of the Men, Women and Children who died as a result of the Northern Ireland Troubles”, by David McKittrick, Seamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea. Apologists for either side, but particularly in the case of this article, the Irish Republican movement, can read this catalogue of cruelty and savagery and see if they can find any evidence of the putative devotion of P.I.R.A. to human rights. Good luck with that!
    Scotland should thank its lucky stars that it didn’t suffer this and that often vociferous political debate can be engaged in, with no danger of being murdered by those who disagree with you.

    1. The “Troubles” did not begin because a “vociferous political debate” got out of hand. The Troubles began because an apartheid state that denied civil and political rights to a religious minority could not respond to a peaceful, democratic movement (the Civil Rights movement) with anything but repression and violence. The Civil War was started by the inability of the corrupt institutions of the Protestant Ascendancy and the British government to hold the line except through violence. If the demands of the Civil Rights movement (again, a peaceful, non-sectarian movement) had been heeded by the Orange establishment and the London government, the IRA would have remained what they were for the three decades previous: a drinking club for veterans and discussion group for Dublin lefties. The actions of the British government created the Provisional movement as we understand it.

      You are welcome to your contempt for the Provisionals campaign. That’s your right. But we need to be honest about the historical facts first.

  47. setondene says:

    Seems to me Tony Kenny’s wound up a lot of people on this site. Why bother, you can’t win. You’re all proddie bastards according to his views. Just being Scottish makes you guilty. I lived in Dublin and never encountered the kind of sectarian crap that’s well and truly associated with N Ireland and Greater Glasgow.

  48. pat says:

    I find the whole idea that Rangers and Celtic fans and their, frankly, ridiculous notion that religion and Irish politics are somehow relevant to life in a secular country like Scotland, let alone relevant to Scottish football, could influence the referendum vote deeply disturbing.

    Celtic fans (the bampot ones) – what part of “independence” don’t you get? A Yes vote is not a vote for Salmond. It’s a vote for being able to vote Salmond out and get some other party in more reflective of your views. Maybe one that lets you sing what you want no matter how utterly irrelevant it is to football. Why not hold protests in the streets if politics is so important to you. Raise some funds for Palestine and all the other causes you claim to support instead of waving your pathetic little banners and flags.

    Rangers fans (the bampot ones) – goodbye, don’t slam the door on your way out after Sept 18. You won’t be missed.

  49. douglas clark says:

    The degree to which religion matters in society is gradually decreasing.

    Tony Kelly is right that the defence of free speech is paramount in a civilised society. What this little thread has shown is how that right can be abused. I cannot imagine, for the life of me, why AC Milan would care, or even understand why two historical figures from British Isles history were being paraded at a football match. So, who exactly is being offended here?

    The point being made is political. To the extent that the Green Brigade feel that their choice of hero is sufficient to disproportionately bring down the law ( and their own club ) upon them.

    It strikes me that the entire article and the thread below is all about identity and how that plays out.

    Whilst I would generally accept that it is for the victim to determine whether someone or an institution was being discriminatory against them, there are also folk who exploit that.

    In general, I am never asked my religion or the proxy ‘what school did you go to’. And the number of ‘funny’ handshakes has dropped off a lot too, over the last few decades. And this is not a Pollyannaish comment, things are not perfect..

    I am minded to independence for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with Ireland, North or South. It is for people living here to decide what future they want for themselves.

    One final remark. This is the first outing of the word ‘hibernophobic’ that I have ever encountered.

  50. douglas clark says:


    Lack of a come back from that master of wit and repartee, Mr Kelly.

    Perhaps events have overtaken him?

  51. Davy says:

    From the Celts for Independence Facebook page –

    I really hope that independistas are not joining with the media and Celtic PLC agenda in scapegoating the Green Brigade.
    Celtic fans, it is now clear are perhaps the most pro-independence group of fans in the country. We should be treated accordingly.

    Friday evening’s inexcusable vandalism was nothing to do with them as a group. It has however, served as convenient cover though, ably assisted by the media who have made hay with this. Even though a similar scenario has occurred dozens of times with other fans/teams, and reporting allusion as fact,
    ie. that it is a factually correct statement that the GB were guilty and that those suspended are GB. None of which is true. Not forgetting the PLC bloggers – remember the fictional Dundee Riot ? – and some gullible and/or reactionary fans helping rid the British to the core unionist PLC of those capable of providing a platform to oppose their agenda.

    Lawell was caught out lying in September and rescinded the first banning after Glasgow City council spoke out about him blaming them for shutting down the GB section. Then we had the Supporters association delegate breaking ranks to speak of the conspiracy amongst PLC to oust GB. Further we had Lawell and co handing over fans private information to the police. An abuse of trust on so many levels.

    The collective punishment being meted out to some Celtic fans just now is unforgivable.
    We look after our own, by all means punish the guilty, not the innocent.

    1. douglas clark says:


      This sentence from the Celts for Independence Facebook Page:

      “We look after our own, by all means punish the guilty, not the innocent.”

      This is a local spat between them and the board of the team they support. Why is the author of that sentence so sure that his ‘own’ are not involved? And, if they were proven to be, would he expect the whole group to ‘look after’ their own? What, in any event does ‘look after’ even mean?

      Quite frankly a political statement was made. It was about a, relatively, trivial bit of legislation. I actually tend towards agreeing with the banners at the AC Milan game. For no-one was hurt by that display. It made it’s point. An away day to Motherwell, well, not so much.

      However the degree to which folk surrender any sense they may have to masters of stirring the shit, reminds me how events can be twisted well away from their actual significance. This is street fighting politics, with a view to the loudest voices getting the most coverage.

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