Anti Irish Racism: the Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name

draft_lens1956481module40156252photo_1245048244help_wanted_-_no_irish_need_apply.jpgWith the detection and interception of a fifth mail bomb intended for another target in Scotland, the time for turning the other way when it comes to the issue of anti-Irish racism has surely passed. The position of attributing equal blame to Irish Catholics and those who view their very existence as an insult and threat to some Protestant Ruritania is no longer sustainable. The truth is there exists in Scotland both an active and passive strain of anti-Irish racism that up to now has been brushed under the carpet by all sections of society from the political establishment to the police to the Scottish Football Association and sadly even to the trade union movement and the left.If it were high profile Muslims, Jews, blacks, or if it were asylum seekers who were the targets of these mail bombs, we would already be out on the streets with the placards demanding action – and rightly so. Yet when the targets are high profile Irish Catholics a deafening silence reigns, except in the conspicuous case of George Galloway. Equivocation has long been the currency of the establishment in Scotland when it comes to religious sectarianism and anti-Irish racism, where hiding behind the fear of alienating its adherents the mantra has traditionally been one of uniting the working class around economic and bread and butter issues instead of confronting and tackling racism.The danger of course is that in failing to tackle it politically the door is opened to a more extreme response on the part of those who feel targeted and threatened. When people focus their ire on Neil Lennon for daring to cup his hands to his ears at Ibrox at the weekend in a gesture of defiance after an attempt was made on his life and after enduring years of racist abuse and attack; when the blame for anti-Irish Catholic bigotry and racism in Scotland is levelled at the existence of Catholic schools, an institution that began life to minister to the needs and isolation of Irish immigrants at the beginning of the 19th century, then we’re looking at a clear cut case of blame the victim.The intended target of this latest mail bomb was the Glasgow-based Irish republican organisation, Cairde Na H’Eireann, or Friends of Ireland. This is a political organisation, affiliated to Sinn Fein and committed to the peace process, which supports the objective of a united Ireland and represents the rights of the Irish community in Scotland. Here again we see evidence of uppity Irishmen and women, who have the temerity to celebrate their culture through either a football team or political organisation, being singled out for attack and intimidation.It has always been the view of supporters of Scottish independence that it would constitute a progressive advance on the union, given that in Scotland there exists an inbuilt left of centre majority. Indeed, the SNP in power have reflected this left of centre bent in many though not all of their flagship policies. But in Scotland in the 21st century the prevalence of anti-Irish racism remains the truth that dare not speak its name, rendering the words progressive and Scotland antithetical rather than complementary.It’s because of this that there now needs to be a concerted effort on the part of the political establishment to tackle the issue without fear or favour. But in order to do so effectively there has to be an honest acknowledgement that the problem lies in a poisonous culture of racism and religious intolerance that has long existed against Catholics in Scotland who trace their roots and cultural heritage to Ireland.Anything less is political cowardice.

156 comments on “Anti Irish Racism: the Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name

  1. Syzygy on said:

    I hear it’s quite acceptable at dinner parties to racially abuse the English or Englishness, indeed there have been instances of it recently on this blog which have gone unchallenged.

  2. David Mullen on said:

    Very good article. I think the point about viewing the presence of irish catholics in Scotland as being an insult and threat to some protestant ruritania particularly well made. I think the issue also should be looked at in a UK wide context as anti catholic discrimination is still enshrined in law most notably the Act of Settlement 1701. I also understand that the offices of prime minister and lord chancellor are barred to catholics. Although sectarianism is more virulent in the West of Scotland sectarianism is below the surface in England.

  3. Fair play to you John. No doubt we will have the wilfully indifferent, the what about the Englishers and the apologists for Loyalist bigotry posting away on this one.

    Before we go down that path let me say I see the current campaign of letter bombing as a sort of Loyalist Ghost Dance. It has no place in the country Scotland is becoming, it will not terrorise the Catholics of Scotland and it will bring down the force of a reluctant state on those responsible. As such I think it marks the begining of the end for Loyalism in Scotland.

  4. Anonymous on said:

    David Mullen

    The Act of Settlement bars Catholics from the throne and from marrying the monarch. I’m not sure it has much practical impact on day to day life and I’m not sure that it’s sectarian to say that a Catholic can’t be head of the Church of England.

    There is no bar against a Catholic being PM or Lord Chancellor, though it is a widely held belief.

    Any anti Catholic/ anti Irish prejudice in England and Wales is of a different order of magnitude to that in Scotland. It’s unthinkable that a manager or prominent supporters of a football club in England would receive letter bombs.

  5. John Reid on said:

    Technically it’s not Anti Irish racism or even Anti Northern Ireland Racism its bigotry towards Catholics in Northern Ireland.

  6. Eamonn Wright on said:

    1979 Scottish UVF bombed three pubs in Glasgow where Republicans drank. Over 70 arrests very shortly after as the lumpens grassed each other up.

    This is the work of one lone individual or brit state dirty tricks. The fireworks derived devices are unviable.

    Saor Alba a nis.

  7. “6.Technically it’s not Anti Irish racism or even Anti Northern Ireland Racism its bigotry towards Catholics in Northern Ireland.”

    It is covered by the Race Relations Act as was intended by those who brought forward that legislation but of course its also bigotry.

  8. Eamonn Wright on said:

    George Galloway the champion of British nationalism and Defender of the Union is simply the best Scottish/British politician that money can buy. Vote George Galloway hes simply the best all you down trodden, oppressed wee tims in Scotland.

  9. Anonymous on said:

    Anyone interested in the history of anti Irish Catholic racism in Scotland could learn a lot from looking at the origins of the SNP.

  10. There is undoubtably soem truth in what is said here.

    But the Independent Labour Party in Glasgow grew precisely *against* the sectarian grain.

    True it tended to compromise on the issue of Catholic schools.

    But there was also the Socialist Sunday School Movement (my father went to it).

    And his father was from a Geordie Protestant background, and my gran from an Irish Catholic one.

  11. Eamonn Wright on said:

    SNP going to win in May. Scumbag Brit that claims hes from the Garngad tal.

  12. jock mctrousers on said:

    Quite right. No platform for Scottish Protestants! Or English protestant! Or anyone, for that matter, but the handful of liberal millionaires that usually show up onstage at left meetings.

    I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Where’s your evidence that this is more than a crime? Where’s your evidence for a widespread pattern of bigotry against catholics? We all know about the Rangers/Celtic thing, but why do you think that the findings of the most recent academic study http://tinyurl.com/66dc4p8 are invalid?

    Have you read the study? I suspect not, since you haven’t mentioned it. But if you haven’t read the study, you’re just indulging in ill-informed rhetoric based on hearsay – arguably anti-protestant bigotry?

  13. Vanya on said:

    Whether the post of PM is barred to Catholics or not, I hardly think it’s a co-incidence that Tony Blair chose to announce his formal conversion almost immediately after he stepped down from the job, when it was obvious that he was of the faith by then in all but name.

    As for whether the problem in Scotland is mainly kept alive by the interaction with N Ireland this is complicated, partly because there is much in common between the dominant form of Protestantism in both.

    Eammon Wright’s attitude is amusing- GG is hated by some for being associated with Scottish Catholics and republicanism and by others for being a unionist.

    So Eammon, what’s the correct message to the Queen- tell her she’s not welcome and call her a war criminal, or swear an oath of allegiance?

    Although in fairness I suspect that the full SNP programme is hardly that popular with Unionists.

  14. Eamonn Wright on said:

    Work it out Vanya, we have evolved a nuanced sophistication when needed unlike the joke that is the Brit left.

    This is so fucking easy.

  15. Eamonn Wright on said:

    Garngad tim shall we have an indepth look at trades unionism in Scotland and its history of anti-Irish racism. Where do yo want to start, lumpen brit sellick corner boy from the garngad, the Miners Fedreration in Lanarkshire, Stirlingshire, Fife?

    Come and have a go if you think you are hard enough Scottish traitor – brit scumbag.

  16. But bombs sent by Irish people to English people in the last 40 years are perfectly OK.

    Remind me again – when Sinn Fein/IRA were bombing “the mainland”, how many of those bombs went off in Scotland or Wales?

  17. Anonymous on said:

    The responses on this topic show it’s obviously a bit of a hornet’s nest. They perhaps also give some idea why many Scots from an Irish Catholic background have long had concerns that Scottish independence would result in a Stormont in Edinburgh.

  18. Forgot to say – your ‘No Irish Need Apply’ poster.

    Apparently it’s a liberal myth, though a politically useful one.

    “Irish Catholics in America have a vibrant memory of humiliating job discrimination, which featured omnipresent signs proclaiming “Help Wanted–No Irish Need Apply!” No one has ever seen one of these NINA signs because they were extremely rare or nonexistent. The market for female household workers occasionally specified religion or nationality. Newspaper ads for women sometimes did include NINA, but Irish women nevertheless dominated the market for domestics because they provided a reliable supply of an essential service. Newspaper ads for men with NINA were exceedingly rare. The slogan was commonplace in upper class London by 1820; in 1862 in London there was a song, “No Irish Need Apply,” purportedly by a maid looking for work. The song reached America and was modified to depict a man recently arrived in America who sees a NINA ad and confronts and beats up the culprit. The song was an immediate hit, and is the source of the myth. Evidence from the job market shows no significant discrimination against the Irish–on the contrary, employers eagerly sought them out. Some Americans feared the Irish because of their religion, their use of violence, and their threat to democratic elections. By the Civil War these fears had subsided and there were no efforts to exclude Irish immigrants. The Irish worked in gangs in job sites they could control by force. The NINA slogan told them they had to stick together against the Protestant Enemy, in terms of jobs and politics. The NINA myth justified physical assaults, and persisted because it aided ethnic solidarity. After 1940 the solidarity faded away, yet NINA remained as a powerful memory.”

  19. River on said:

    Does an isolated example of the use of the ineffective, cowardly and desperate tactic of parcel-bombing really show that anti-catholic bigotry is regaining strength? Maybe it actually shows how weak such a trend is, the use of these tactics can only have created revulsion against those that advocate and defend such bigotry, among all working class communities.

    The OP is right to raise this as a potential threat that the working class movement must be aware of and deal with, having a clear position against sectarianism and in favour of working class unity would help us deal clearly and decisively with tactics that are aimed to divide people on religious or ethnic grounds.

  20. River on said:

    “Perhaps they will see that the landlord who grinds his peasants on a Connemara estate, and the landlord who rack-rents them in a Cowgate slum, are brethren in fact and deed. Perhaps they will realise that the Irish worker who starves in an Irish cabin and the Scots worker who is poisoned in an Edinburgh garret are brothers with one hope and destiny.” (C.D. Greaves, James Connolly, p. 61.)

  21. Anonymous on said:

    ’22.Does an isolated example of the use of the ineffective, cowardly and desperate tactic of parcel-bombing really show that anti-catholic bigotry is regaining strength?’

    No. But it didn’t come out of a blue sky (as it were).

    There have been concerns expressed for a few years now. But no one was listening.

  22. There is an alternative on said:

    Anonymous at 19 said: “The responses on this topic show it’s obviously a bit of a hornet’s nest. They perhaps also give some idea why many Scots from an Irish Catholic background have long had concerns that Scottish independence would result in a Stormont in Edinburgh.”

    What evidence is there to suggest that an Independent Scotland would be comparable to Stormont? (By Stormont I take it your mean pre the current peace process rather than the current assembly?)

    Do you mean structural discrimination in housing allocation?
    Discrimination in getting jobs?
    Discrimination resulting in Gerrymandered boundaries in elections?

    The current threats to supporters and figures linked to Celtic FC is shameful and needs to be condemned. What steps we take next to tackle the issue need to be discussed. I welcome the call for a big, broad, anti-sectarian initiative, uniting the vast majority in Scotland who are opposed to sectarianism, bigotry and hatred.

    However, it is nonsense to equate Scotland in 2011 to pre-peace process Stormont and does a disservice to a community that genuinely faced state sponsored violence, discrimination and oppression.

  23. Stephen on said:

    SNP left of centre? It’s more that they will make populist appeals that they will sometimes deliver on – remember Alex Salmond was the guy that complained pre crash that banks were over regulated and that Scottish banks only needed ‘silver plated regulation’ not ‘the gold plated regulation’ that was being imposed from the City of London.

    Their promise to re regulate buses went out of the window as soon Bus monopolist Brian Souter, of “Keep the Clause” fame started giving them six figure donations. (and their behaviour whilst the then labour led Scottish Executive was trying to abolish Clause 28 was pretty reactionary)

    They have frozen council tax for four years – and are promising a five year freeze if returned to office. A policy that’s not so much populist as social vandalism (and regressive , the poor are paying more in increased charges and reduced services than they would in letting Council Tax rise)

    That’s not to say they haven’t done some decent things in office – moving towards free prescriptions being the most obvious – But tackling sectarianism hasn’t been one of them.

    In fact they shut down the initiatives started by Salmond’s predecessor, Jack McConnell. I’m no particular fan of McConnell – a man so business friendly he tried to water down a measure (from one of his own MSPs) that would have guaranteed shopworkers either Xmas Day or New Years Day off work(either, not even both.

    But sectarianism was something he took seriously and tried to get some dialogue going about. Salmond’s response at the time was to say that this wouldn’t achieve anything and then abandoned McConnell’s Summit initiatives as soon as he came into office. It was even stated that it wasn’t a big problem…

    Curiously, or perhaps not, the grouping most keen to see the Summit programme abandoned were the Catholic hierarchy in Scotland. People would, you see, keep bringing up the issue of sectarian schooling in Scotland, discussion of which makes Priestly types nervous.

    The SNP have been trying to detach a (largely mythical I’m convinced) Catholic vote from Labour for a long time now – they discovered an enthusiasm for sectarian education after Jim Sillars won the Govan by-election – and have been trying to cosy up to sundry mitre wearers ever since. (viz one of Salmond’s very very rare appaearnces at Westminster after he became first minister was to vote for the most restrictive amendment on abortion law.)

    Here is a prediction – the remit for the current initiative will either be drawn rather narrowly (public order policing, drink, interweb fuckwittery etc)without looking at wider social issues (especially education). Or if it is does involve those wider social isues – the plug will be pulled as soon as the question of the benefits (or otherwise) of Scotland’s peculiar level of state support for catholic schools is brought into the mix.

  24. Vanya on said:

    I think Eammon should put out nuanced and sophisticated leaflets explaining that anyone opposed to independence is a Brit scumbag traitor, and that people should vote for a party that seeks to maintain the English crown and defended the integrity of the proud Scottish regiments like the Black Watch and the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders.

    So much better than some no-mark who was expelled from the Labour Party and suffered death threats for his stance on an imperialist war.

    And don’t forget to include an especially nuanced and sophisticated invitation to anyone who disagrees with you to come and sort it out with a square go in the car park.

  25. Anonymous on said:

    Stephen

    You seem to have a wee bit of a bee in your bonnet about Catholic schools.

  26. ” Where’s your evidence that this is more than a crime?”

    It would techicaly be a ‘Hate Crime’ under law you know the sort of thing racism, homophobia.. It is about the motivation for the crime.

  27. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/26/lennon-bomb-attempts-football

    Meanwhile, in an unconnected development, police in Northern Ireland said they would investigate any complaint made about apparent threats against Lennon allegedly made by Steve Moore, the British National party’s candidate in the Stormont assembly election.Matthew Collins from the anti-Nazi magazine Searchlight, said the comments “really eflect how stuck in the dark ages the BNP are with regard to Northern Ireland”.

    Collins added: “A couple of months ago the BNP were backing dissident Republicans, now they’re taking enjoyment in the threats to the life of a football manager. This party is suffering from time warp sickness.”

    This is the BNP’s first major foray into Ulster politics where the British far right have traditionally failed to make a breakthrough. In the early 1980s the National Front was humiliated in a local government election after their candidate in North Belfast received just 26 votes.

  28. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Interesting statistics re how people in Glasgow 9as opposed to on the internet) view sectarianism. Apparently it is not such a great problem as the media might suggest.

    “Institutional sectarianism – in the labour market, by the Police or by the Council or other
    public services – was perceived to be much less common. Even so, a quarter (25%) of
    respondents felt that sectarianism was common in employment decisions and a fifth (20%)
    felt that there was sectarian practice by the Police. Yet when people were asked specifically
    about how the Police treat Catholics and Protestants, 45% said that both are treated
    equally, 19% said that “religion doesn’t affect how people are treated” and 28% felt unable
    to comment, leaving only 7% believing there was some difference in how the Police treat
    Protestants and Catholics.”

    http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/DA614F81-4F1B-4452-8847-F3FDE920D550/0/sectarianism03.pdf

  29. #35

    Those figures tell us nothing.

    Imagine a mixed population of people who are either A or B. There is sytematic discrimination against peoplw who are type B, but people who are type A either don’t notice, don’t care, or think type B people bring it on themselves.

    A poll of people who are predominantly type A asking whether there was a problem of anti-B discrimination would find little evidence of such discrimination.

    Indeed the more ingrained the anti-B prejudice is, the less likely it would be detected in a poll due to the anti-B bias of the type A population

  30. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #36

    I am surprised that you would raise this straw man without reading anything about the study — undertaken for Glasgow City Council. Page two of the study states: “The study was undertaken in three broad phases, centred on a survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Glasgow.”

    Your point is thus not relevant.

  31. Titus Oates on said:

    And there’s no sectarianism from Celtic supporters I suppose. No definitely not!

  32. Graham Day on said:

    A piece that is long on oncoherent ranting, and short on objective facts. If I sent a bomb to the queen (and just for the avoidance of doubt, I wouldn’t), would that demonstrate (a)that Scotland is a seething hotbed of republicanismn or (b) that I’m a deranged nutter. Only the strange logic of John Wight would give the answer as (a).

  33. #37

    It relevent, as the population of Scotland is only 15% catholic, according to the 2001 census
    http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/36496/0029047.pdf

    So a poll that was representative of the Scottish population as a whole might under-represent a discrimination agaist catholics, if 85% of the populations don’t experience it.

    in any event, the survey does report that:

    According to respondents in the survey, sectarianism is most commonly observed through
    jokes between friends and by using sectarian terms to describe people (Figure B-1).
    Overall, 77% said that sectarian jokes between friends was either very or quite common,
    while 71% said that using sectarian terms was common. Perhaps more alarmingly, around
    two-thirds (65%) of respondents felt that sectarian violence was very or quite common and
    a majority (58%) felt that sectarian threats and harassment were common.

    which is hard to reconcile with your conclusion that

    “Apparently it is not such a great problem as the media might suggest.”

  34. jock mctrousers on said:

    #36

    ” Those figures tell us nothing.

    Imagine …[ your imagined incompetent poll].”

    Comment by Andy Newman

    Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine anything here. You can just turn to the authoritative academic study I’ve already linked to twice http://tinyurl.com/66dc4p8

    If you want to discuss sectarianism in Scotland SERIOUSLY, then this is what you have to talk about. If you think they rely on polls that were conducted by idiots, rather than by highly-trained professionals; if you think the academics are incompetent, or prejudiced appointees or some Orange masonic establishment, then spell out where you think their competence is in question and why, or where there is bias and evidence of corruption.

    OTHERWISE any discussion on this topic is just an exchange of hearsay and prejudice, in which as always the protestants are found guilty without trial.

    For those who haven’t read it (which includes me, but I’m not making assertions in a major socialist website) it concludes that catholics are happily integrated in Scotland, and that religious indentity is of little importance to all but a very few Scots.

  35. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “So a poll that was representative of the Scottish population as a whole might under-represent a discrimination agaist catholics, if 85% of the populations don’t experience it.”

    Sigh. As I stated above, the poll was representative of Glasgow’s population not Scotland’s (another strawman). Thus: “The study was undertaken in three broad phases, centred on a survey of a representative sample of 1,000 adults in Glasgow.”

  36. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    Also, per the same Glasgow City study: “There is no significant difference with regard to the level of crime experienced between respondents who classify themselves as Catholics and those who classify themselves as belonging to a Protestant. This general pattern is well established by crime surveys such as the Scottish Crime Survey.”

    And again — contrary to the original poster’s claims — “Only a small minority said that sectarianism tends to be mainly anti-Catholic (8%) or anti- Protestant (2%). Even among Catholics and Protestant respondents, there was a strong view that sectarianism affected both equally although Catholic respondents were more likely to say that sectarianism tended to be anti-Catholic (15%) than Protestants were to say that it tended to be anti-Protestant (3%).”

  37. Graham Day on said:

    #40, the implication is that the 1000 adults were representative of the population of Glasgow, not of Scotland as a whole. There are roughly the same number of Church of Scotland and Roman Catholics in Glasgow (doing some maths on the figures in Table 1.17 of the census analysis you link to gives 171700 CoS and 168574 RC). So if that’s the case then your point in #36 doesn’t seem to hold.

    As for the survey linked to in #35, there’s bits in it that support either perspective… in fact there are plenty of contradictions within it. I guess that’s a problem with surveys that focus on what people feel, rather than something more material.

    Doesn’t change the fact that the article at the top of the page is hysterical junk, though.

  38. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #40

    It is hard to reconcile the claim that 65% of respondents felt that sectarian violence was common with the fact that “5% of respondents who were physically attacked believed that this was because of their religion.” It appears that sectarian violence is a rare phenomenon.

  39. Graham Day on said:

    Also Andy, in #40 you quote “71% said that using sectarian terms was common”. Just the other day in another thread on this site “Stephen Hero” was making comments which many in Scotland would see as sectarian. You presumably didn’t, since they are still there. Which is fine, I’m not particularly interested in another tedious debate about whether it was or not, I’m just saying that many in Scotland would see them that way. Which perhaps illustrates some of the issues around perception that might be contained in that quotation.

  40. #45

    No – that is not hard to reconcile. It just means that 65% of respondents think that one in 20 assaults being for sectarian motivations makes it a common occurence.

    To know how common we would need to know the total incidence of physical attacks in Glasgow. For example, if there were 5 assaults per day, then that would mean there was a sectarian attack every 4 days; enough to justify 65% of people thinking it was common.

  41. #46

    I haven’t been following the thread that closely. I did delete some comments from Stephen hero, and a whole number from Eamonn Wright, and many from Jimmy

    However, I would not be surprised if there were still some dodgy comments remaining

  42. John Wight on said:

    Graham Day typifies the supine position of the left in this country when it comes to this issue. Five mail bombs sent to Irish or Irish linked targets is just the work of a few nutters and has no historical or cultural context. Forty thousand Rangers fans singing The Famine Song doesn’t is indicative of nothing more than a football rivalry.

    All is well in his world until the bubble of delusion in which he clearly resides is pricked. Then he exerts himself in shooting the messenger.

    As I write, inexcusable if not surprising.

  43. Graham Day on said:

    I see your keeping your tangential relationship with reality by putting words in my mouth, Mr Wight. You really are a joke.

    Stick to writing about boxing, at least you know something about it.

  44. Incidently, the only comments from Stephen hero are those which dispute that the term “hun” is sectarian.

    Now I am prepared to be corrected here, but i though a Hun was a reference to a rangers supporter; in the same way that Bristol Rovers supporters are “gas-heads”, and Bristol City Fans are “shit-heads”

    as such, if it is not a term of abuse against a broader section of the community than the followers of a football club, then I don’e see it as sectarian.

    perhaps you would explain?

  45. Jimmy on said:

    48. Andy please explain dodgy! They are not libelous. You really have to mix reality and sense of humour. The post I made about Findlay and Galloway could be verified. It was on the roger melly.

  46. Graham Day on said:

    Andy, it’s bizarre that at #49 you’ve got the author of the original post telling us that an abusive song in a football ground is a big deal, while you’re telling me at #51 that an abusive term which may or may not be directed at football fans isn’t.

    But as I said, I’m not particularly interested in debating it in the abstract. I’m telling you, as someone who has lived in central Scotland all my life, that it is not just banter between football fans and it is perceived and used as sectarian abuse. You don’t have to take my word for it.

  47. Graham Day on said:

    BTW Andy, I wasn’t being critical about you not deleting comments, I was trying to illustrate a point that people in that survey might perceive sectarianism where none was intended. Which on reflection wasn’t a very good one, since I think that the perception vastly outweighs the intention.

  48. Graham, what tripe you spout. Now you are attempting to equate a song deemed racist by the courts with a pejorative word used to describe Rangers fans.

    And I’m the joke? Truly, you couldn’t make it up.

    Well, clearly you can.

  49. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #51

    The nilbymouth campaign states “Offensive sectarian language is still used in Scotland on a daily basis, with abusive terms such as “Hun” and “Orange bastard” being used negatively against Protestants (or those perceived to be) and others such as “Fenian” and “Tim” used negatively against Catholics (or those perceived to be).”

  50. Anonymous on said:

    The term hun is an abusive term for a Rangers fan or Rangers player.

    It has nothing to do with religion.

    Protestants who play for, or support, Celtic are not huns and are not called huns.

    Catholics who play for Rangers are huns and are called huns.

    It is interesting that Rangers fans wish to portray the word hun as sectarian.

  51. Anonymous on said:

    Fenian isn’t sectarian.

    Neither is Tim.

    Nil By Mouth are wrong.

    I don’t wish to cause offence by bringing the issue of class in to it but it’s necessary to understand their limitations. Nil By Mouth set up in the wake of the murder of a young Celtic supporter, Mark Scott, who was walking home from Celtic Park wearing a Celtic top. He was attacked and had his throat cut in Bridgeton and died at the scene. What was unusual about his murder was that he was from a professional upper middle class background. I believe Nil By Mouth was set up by one of his classmates from the private non denominational school he attended. I get the feeling that however well intentioned the people behind the charity are, the whole milieu is foreign to them. Hence the hand wringing over terms like hun and tim. They’re not words they would ever have used or would have encountered but for the charity.Middle class do gooders is probably an apt description.

  52. #53

    Graham

    You will note that in the comment from Stephen hero he specifically contextualised his own usage of the term “Hun” by saying that to him it meant a rangers fan or player, and he then listed a number of Catholics who he regarded as Huns.

    Clearly in the usage it was not sectarian therefore.

    Perhaps it is worth saying that from an English perspective Rangers fans have a reputation for being boorish racist bigots; Celtic fans are just seen as supporters of a Scottish football club.

  53. 58. It is not abusive at all. It is simply a fact of politics. The Hanoverians crushed the Vatican Papist Idiot placeman Charlie. There is a statue in the Vatican to commemorate the idiot Charlie. The Papes lost and are unforgiving. Thus the HUN. Get a grip with your history 58.

  54. Graham Day on said:

    And there they go. There are far too many people in Scotland who don’t see a problem with their sectarian language, only with other peoples. The idiots at #55 and #58 are cases in point.

    There have been a couple of interesting documents linked to in this thread, but as with previous similar articles there is a lot more heat than light. Too many contributors are just parading their prejudices rather than discussing a serious issue in a serious manner. Needless to say that goes double for the author of this piece.

  55. Hun is a racist term. Hun means German and this was a common term of abuse in earlier decades. Calling Rangers fans (and loyalists) Huns is a reference to their imagined Saxon roots; foreign invaders as opposed to indigenous Gaels.

    It’s the flip side of the Famine Song – an essentialist expression of ethnic superiority and entitlement – and says ‘This is our land and you don’t belong here’

  56. 60. Celtic fans were the first known to throw bananas at a black Rangers player. The black player was English. Eh! who is racist anti English and bigoted. Andy get a life and read history.

  57. Graham Day on said:

    #60, The fact is that I’ve pointed out to you that that word is perceived by many Scots to be sectarian and offensive. I’ve backed that up with a link to what I think is an objective source. Your response is to repeat the offense, with bells on. It’s not really good enough, is it?

  58. Andy. Did you know that a section of ‘SCOTTISH'(joke) Celtic Supporters actually wear regalia with Che and Irish Republican slogans. The tossers must think Che would have approved of indiscriminately murdering innocent working class civilians. Another history lesson for you Andy.

  59. #65

    backing up your opinion with someone else who shares the same opinion is not really conclusive!

    Can you explain how when the term is applied to Catholic players at Rangers that it can be religiously sectarian?

    If you mean that it inflames tensions and reinforces prejudice, then for sure. but City fans also find being called “Shitheads” deeply offensive, and people have died in the fights that have resulted. That doesn’t mean that the term is sectarian.

  60. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Perhaps it is worth saying that from an English perspective Rangers fans have a reputation for being boorish racist bigots; Celtic fans are just seen as supporters of a Scottish football club.”

    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that from *your* English perspective; unless you claim to speak for Englishmen in general. I might as well say that when I visit family in Hungary they view English fans as violent neo-nazis. I would never call this “the Hungarian perspective”.

  61. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Can you explain how when the term is applied to Catholic players at Rangers that it can be religiously sectarian?”

    So if a Rangers fan calls a non-Irish Celtic fan or player a fenian or a taig that means that those terms are not sectarian? Very odd.

  62. Here’s a litmus test: would Celtic fans ever call themselves Tims? Absolutely. What about Fenians? Yes, if they were Irish republicans – bold Fenian men, etc. Taig? Never.

    Would a Rangers fan ever call himself a Hun? Never. Bluenose? Sometimes. Bear? Absolutely.

    IMHO Hun and Taig are unacceptable but the rest are fine.

  63. The spectre on said:

    Andy you are doing fine. C U Jimmy is a troll, just like Eamonn Wright from the Kennyhill School of thought

  64. Anonymous on said:

    Why are the huns so desperate to have people beleive that the term hun is sectarian?

    Why do fans of all clubs in Scotland refer to them as huns?

    Let’s be honest their behaviour over the years gives people enough reason to detest them without bringing religion in to it.

    ‘A permanent embarrassment and an occasional disgrace’.

    “It is to these tikes, hooligans, louts and drunkards that I pinpoint my message – it is because of your gutter-rat behaviour that we [Rangers] are being publicly tarred and feathered.”

  65. 66.# Do not move the goalposts Andy. We know the English and Millwall. We are talking about hard done to innocent butter would not melt in the mouth Celtic camp followers.
    OOPPS should not have used the word camp. Not something tolerated by Papes North of the border.

  66. #69

    ” I might as well say that when I visit family in Hungary they view English fans as violent neo-nazis. ”

    That would be a perfectly reasonable observation of traveling England away support up until the 1990s, and I wouldn’t find it either unreasonable or offensive for Hungarians to think that, based upon their experience, both real and mythologised.

    You will also note my careful use of the expression

    “from an English perspective ”

    and not

    “from the English perspective ”

    However my view is not totally atypical, given the fact that the far right in England includes people who wear Rangers strips as a badge of their anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice.

  67. Anonymous on said:

    Don

    No one is suggesting the word hun is a term of endearment. It’s offensive and pejorative. But it’s not sectarian and has nothing to do with religion.

  68. 72.# See you are even having a go at the disadvantaged that went to Kennyhill on the Gray school van. Typical Nazi Pape.

  69. Graham Day on said:

    #68, I’m finding it hard to believe you’re being serious here Andy. When directed at Catholics playing for Rangers you could argue that it was intended both as a sectarian insult and an accusation of betrayal. There’s as much evidence to back that up as the statement of someone who happily uses the term that they don’t mean anything by it.

    But anyway, as I thought I made clear, we’re not talking about football (and, incidentally, I’m not a Rangers fan, though I really resent being made to feel that I have to point that out). It’s used on the streets of central Scotland as sectarian abuse. I know, I live there. It’s ridiculous for you to claim that if someone prefaces their comments with “context” that that makes it OK. At least Anonymous up at #59 is being consistent.

    I think I said a while back that this is a tedious debate…

  70. #70

    “So if a Rangers fan calls a non-Irish Celtic fan or player a fenian or a taig that means that those terms are not sectarian?”

    But both Fenian and Taig have very clear and accepted usage outside of the world of football rivalries, and in the dark world of Ulster loyalism. These are the very words used by loyalist butchers carrying out sectarian murders.

    Now in honesty both the provos and the INLA did carry out sectarian murders in tit-for-tat violence, But i have never heard the term “Hun” used in that context. they talked IIRC of killing Prods.

    so the connotations of one usage are steeped in blood, the other not

  71. Anonymous on said:

    Graham Day

    Why do fans of other clubs in Scotland refer to Rangers and their fans as huns?

  72. Graham Day on said:

    #73, worth pointing out that fans of all other scottish clubs refer to Celtic in sectarian terms too. Which you could see as evidence of sectarianisn being rife in Scotland, or as evidence of opposing fans wanting to wind up fans of the old firm.

    But we’re not talking about football, we’re talking about real life.

  73. Anonymous on said:

    Hun

    Definition
    Affectionate term used to describe the more rabid supporters (sic!) of various opposition clubs whose general political slant is strongly right-wing, parochial, conservative and highly xenophobic towards any form of outside influence.

    “Huns” can usually be easily spotted due to their lack of cleanliness, and general poor looks.

    “Huns” usually refers to Rangers fans in the main, but also can be used to refer to Hearts, Kilmarnock and even foreign clubs like Millwall.

    Lots of different stories how this name came about, but the most likely is that as a number of Rangers players were able to skip joining up for the war effort in the World Wars due to connections, and were said to be no better than the “Huns” (slang at the time in the UK media for the German and their Axis power counterparts), and the term stuck.

    Used to actually be a term that Rangers fans also used against Celtic fans at one point (upto the 60s), but it didn’t work as it wasn’t accurate.

    http://www.thecelticwiki.com/page/Hun

  74. This has been fun Andy. But I have to prepare the bunting and flags for Friday. I have a good and wet weather plan for celebrating the marriage of our future pagan King and Queen. The bevvy is in the fridge the buffet ordered. Eat your hearts out Papes. Console yourself with having a Herman the German HUN Hitler Youth NAZI in situ. NOT TO MENTION HIS CONVERT TONY BLIAR. Papes just have no embarrassment.

  75. jim mclean on said:

    As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
    There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
    No pipe did hum, no battle drum did sound its loud tattoo
    But the Angelus Bell o’er the Liffey’s swell rang out through the foggy dew

    Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
    ‘Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than at Suvla or Sud-El-Bar
    And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
    While BRITANIAS HUNS, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

  76. Graham Day on said:

    #79, so if you’ve never heard a word used in the context of murder in Northern Ireland then it’s OK? And you’re positive that you’ve heard all the words ever used in that context?

    Well, I certainly can’t argue with that logic…

  77. There is an alternative on said:

    The terms used to describe both sides of the Old Firm have interesting histories that are often distorted.

    The term “Billy Boys” for instance is not, (as many people think) a reference to King William of Orange. It refers to Billy Fullerton, a Glasgow Gang Leader. (Of the Brig’ ton Billy Boys.)

    Similarly, the term “Tim” derives from another Glasgow gang The Tim Molloys and as such is not actually a religious slur.

    As many on this board will know the term “fenian” derives from supporters of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and if applied properly it can be argued is an accurate political description. More commonly however, it is used as a catch all insult for Roman Catholics.

    The term “Hun” is probably the most contested word in terms of how it originated as a term of abuse for Rangers fans.

    Some claim it is short for supporters of the Hanoverian royal dynasty whilst others claim that Rangers supporters originally labelled Celtic fans Huns due to the Republic’s perceived support of Germany during WWI (prior to the establishment of Eire) and during WWII. It is alleged that fans of Celtic merely turned the insult back on their rivals.

    Whether or not posters on this board think it is a sectarian or offence term of not doesn’t really matter. The charity Nil by Mouth deems it so and therefore the political establishment would consider it a sectarian term. (Not sure if that has been tested in the courts or not?)

  78. 84.# OH And anyone can call me an Orange Bastard. I will not take offence. As my old late auntie replied to abuse from our NICE Irish immigrants THAT SHE WAS AN ORANGE BASTARD. Her reply: Not a bastard but Orange and Proud and she walked on turning her cheek to the scum. Well done old Auntie Alice. But the scum are still here.

  79. Stephen Hero on said:

    Dear God, what a carry on. And cheers for the defence in my absence, Andy.

    I’d confidently assert that a majority of fans of every team in the Scottish Premier League would laugh in your face if you attempted to tell them that ‘Hun’ was a sectarian term or referred to anything other than Rangers fans and Rangers players. This is despite the fact that Scottish Protestants would make up a large majority in all but one (perhaps two) of these support bases. Even Hearts fans gave a relatively rousing rendition of ‘Go Home Ya Huns’ to Rangers after beating them at Tynecastle earlier in the season.

    For my second confident assertion, I’d suggest that Graham Day is either a Rangers fan or has absolutely balls all knowledge of Scottish football.

    And for the record, I can’t stand Celtic either!

  80. Graham Day on said:

    And so there you go.

    Jimmy is a sectarian prick who knows it.

    Stephen Hero is a sectarian prick who doesn’t.

    Who is better? Does it matter?

  81. Anonymous on said:

    There is an alternative
    ‘Whether or not posters on this board think it is a sectarian or offence term of not doesn’t really matter. The charity Nil by Mouth deems it so and therefore the political establishment would consider it a sectarian term. (Not sure if that has been tested in the courts or not?)’

    What on earth makes you think that Nil By Mouth are some sort of authoritative voice in all of this?

  82. 89.# I just dropped my bunting because of that remark. I will ask Gorgeous to sue you on my behalf.

  83. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    The Celticwiki quoted above with approval seems an unpleasant thing and has this bile-filled description of the term: “They are despised by all decent, educated people in Scotland, their own country; they are mocked by the English they are so desperate to cling to; the Taigs are taking all the top jobs in the north of Ireland, leaving them without even fabled “Ulster” to call their own. Never having had to compete in the Six Counties, they are now incapable of competing. “

  84. Of course the hilariously Nelsonian nature of this discussion is rendered even more surreal by the fact that the most pervasive – and vitriolic – racism in Scotland is actually anti-English racism.

    Speak to a group of Irish expats from Dublin and ask them how much abuse and hostility they have encountered during their time in Scotland. Then ask the same question of a group of English expats from London. We all know which group would have experienced more racism.

    Somehow, their feelings don’t count.

  85. Anonymous on said:

    #94Harsanyi_Janos

    I think most people would realise that the article is intended to be frivolous, flippant and humorous. That evidently escaped you.

  86. 88.# Seems you cant stand that awful pub near GWR. Must be working class that hang around it.

  87. John Reid on said:

    SA so the IRA members from Ireland, killing protestants were anti Nortern ireland, racists then,

  88. Anonymous on said:

    #95 Don ‘the most pervasive – and vitriolic – racism in Scotland is actually anti-English racism’

    Is it more vitriolic than receiving a mail bomb or having your throat slashed?

  89. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “I think most people would realise that the article is intended to be frivolous, flippant and humorous. That evidently escaped you.”

    I think people outside the walled garden of Celtic support would not find it humourous and frivolous. I am sure Rangers supporters are also amused by writing “flippant” slurs about Irishmen.

  90. “Is it more vitriolic than receiving a mail bomb or having your throat slashed?”

    These are the actions of a few psychopaths like Jason Campbell. I’m talking about the lived experience of each minority in Scotland.

  91. #84

    Well the Foggy Dew is a song not about Protestants, but about the British troops who put down the Easter Uprising.

    Look at the context, it is a wartime song about how the Irish could better serve the cause of patriotism by fighting for Ireland, than in fighting for the British crown against Britain’s enemies (at that time the Huns), I would read the song as describing the British as Ireland’s enemies (Britania’s Huns).

    Perhaps Hun is used as slang in Ireland, I don’t know; but it certainly doesn’t have the currency that Taig and Fenian have.

  92. Andy – have you worked out yet that it’s all a bit more complicated up here than Mr Wight’s rather partisan perspective might indicate?

    Scotland is not Northern Ireland, whatever the superficial similarities might suggest. The Catholic Church is not oppressed and nor are its adherents, as most of them would happily tell you.

    There are moronic and violent bigots on both sides who feed off each other like West Ham and Millwall on steroids. They appropriate historic disputes to invest their childish nonsense with a patina of historic grandeur.

    Scotland needs people from elsewhere to point out how absurd the whole pantomime is. What we don’t need is people who misunderstand the political significance of it jumping in and taking sides.

  93. Anonymous on said:

    #102 Andy

    I always thought that the line about Britannia’s Huns was Canon O’Neill’s way of highlighting the hypocrisy of Britain’ position in going to defend Belgium from German aggression while at the same time carrying out similar aggression against Ireland.

    I think O’Casey made a similar point in Shadow of a Gunman.

  94. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Mr Wight’s rather partisan perspective might indicate?”

    Based on a letter of his I read in the Weekly Worker(sic); his views are extreme by republican standards even. I quote: “Without recourse to military action, Sinn Fein will never be more than another tepid, social democratic formation occupying the centre-left of the political landscape.”

    Perhaps he is not well placed to comment on these issues?

    http://www.cpgb.org.uk/letters.php?issue_id=659

  95. Anonymous on said:

    Don

    ‘The Catholic Church is not oppressed and nor are its adherents’

    But they are regarded as not quite belonging.

  96. 103.# You are right the Catholic Church is not oppressed in Scotland. They are indeed privileged to get taxpayers money to promote them. But do not think they are thankful for this. They are the true faith and expect funding. The mugs that fund them are ‘mugs’. They are very clever. They attack when being exposed either when sexual abuse, paedophilia or priests doing a bit of shagging on the side.
    They have been around for 16 centuries. Clever bastards. Give them respect.

  97. #103

    ‘There are moronic and violent bigots on both sides’

    Absolute shite, Don. I’m sorry, but really…

    Tell me the names of the high profile Scottish Protestants who were the intended targets of intercepted mail bombs last week. Tell me when the Moderator of the Chruch of Scotland last received bullets in the post. Likewise with the Rangers manager.

    I’d say that when people are being sent mail bombs for no other reason than either they are Irish Catholics, or have an affiliation to a sporting institution with a distinct Irish heritage, then we’re looking at more than just your bog standard case of bigotry.

    I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t know anybody who knows how to make up a letter bomb. Maybe it was just a couple of Rangers fans sitting in a bedsit somewhere after a night on the sauce, listening to loyalist marching songs at the same time. Or maybe it was an organised and premeditated attempted murder.

    Childish nonsense to you, maybe, but I’d wager not to those involved on either side.

  98. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “‘There are moronic and violent bigots on both sides’

    Absolute shite, Don. I’m sorry, but really…”

    “An element of supporters following premier league clubs such as Glasgow based Rangers FC and Celtic FC, and Edinburgh’s Hibernian and Hearts use songs, chants and banners on match days to express abuse or support towards the Protestant or Catholic faiths. In a similar way, some football fans proclaim a political commitment, and they promote their support for Northern Irish based terrorist groups such as the IRA and UVF. At some matches this can generate an atmosphere of hatred, religious tension and intimidation which continues to lead to violence in communities across Scotland. “

  99. John – I’m not talking about bomb-making lunatics. The Scottish nationalist fringe has had a few of those as well over the years.

    I’m talking about the haters who spit bile at the other side as a form of recreation. There are plenty of Celtic fans who fit that description. Bitter – like their Rangers counterparts – and prone to casual racism, sexism and homophobia.

    Go onto some of the Celtic fan sites – Jeez, some of these people should be locked up in Carstairs.

  100. Anonymous on said:

    It seems some people can’t accept that perhaps one side is worse than the other.

    That probably says a lot about their own baggage.

  101. “98.SA so the IRA members from Ireland, killing protestants were anti Nortern ireland, racists then,”

    The IRA was not a sectarian organisation but don’t take my word for that read General Glover’s assesment for the British Government.

    But what are you saying here that the letter bomb campaign in Scotland is justified by events mainly historical in Ireland?

    Are you saying any Taig will do?

  102. 111.# It is from the Carstairs HQ. That is why the train stn is a mile away and you never see a celik tap boarding.
    On a serious note who actually made UP those letter bombs. People jump tae conclusions and follow the popular daily rags and BBC ETC!. But it could have been THE scum REPUBLICANS. Evidence is required.

  103. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “The IRA was not a sectarian organisation”

    Indeed, amongst its victims were many innocent Catholics; especially policemen.

  104. Darkness at Noon on said:

    @Harsanyi Janos:

    “Without recourse to military action, Sinn Fein will never be more than another tepid, social democratic formation occupying the centre-left of the political landscape.”

    Did John Wight really write that?

  105. There is an alternative on said:

    Anon at #90 said;

    “What on earth makes you think that Nil By Mouth are some sort of authoritative voice in all of this?”

    I don’t think they are an authoritative voice. However, the political establishment and by extension the law thinks that they are.

    Night night

  106. I’m talking about the haters who spit bile at the other side as a form of recreation. There are plenty of Celtic fans who fit that description. Bitter – like their Rangers counterparts – and prone to casual racism, sexism and homophobia.

  107. JellyTot on said:

    @46 Also Andy, in #40 you quote “71% said that using sectarian terms was common”. Just the other day in another thread on this site “Stephen Hero” was making comments which many in Scotland would see as sectarian. You presumably didn’t, since they are still there. Which is fine, I’m not particularly interested in another tedious debate about whether it was or not, I’m just saying that many in Scotland would see them that way. Which perhaps illustrates some of the issues around perception that might be contained in that quotation.

    A forum that isn’t premoderated will attract bigots, trolls and racists like flies to shit. It goes with the territory. There’s been issues with racists on EDL threads here in the past. I think Andy does his best but in the end comments will slip through. It just shows them up for what they are.

  108. The spectre on said:

    Jimmy,
    Many people in the east end on rare occasions use the metaphors, kennyhill, The Dolly Bus, or taking a maddie. It is in our usage of emphasis and if you want to be really politically correct
    in your posts try and be a bit ecumenical instead of your insane sectarian rants. I am a Christian heretic, not a Pape As for being a Nazi. I beg to differ. I am accused of being a Stalinist and idiot. I have got over it but never used to it.

  109. #117

    Yes, I did write that letter, back in 2006, I believe it was. I was wrong, it’s as simple as that.

    Sinn Fein have negotiated a very difficult path to lead the struggle and steer it away from its physical force aspect and I pay tribute to them for doing so. Along with many others, I never fully appreciated that the attachment to Britain on the part of the unionist community runs deep and will not end with the withdrawal of British troops. The lack of support for a united Ireland in the South is also significant.

    There is also the matter of understanding that it’s easy to take militant positions on these issues when you don’t have to live with the consequences of those positions.

    So, yes, I was wrong, and I’m happy to admit that.

    Politics is a process.

  110. Fair enough, John. All of us have adopted positions at one time or another that might not look so wise today.

    I’m more troubled by your one-eyed view of the world of sectarian hatred in west central Scotland. There is a truly horrible and atavistic sub-culture in parts of Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and one or two other spots. The Rangers or loyalist side is worse but it feeds off the Celtic or republican side which is, in far more respects than you seem to realise, a mirror image. I know knuckle-draggers on both sides and they are similar in outlook, cultural habits and malice.

    It’s not politics; it’s a disease, like alcoholism.

  111. #125

    Don, you’ve picked me up entirely wrong if you think I adopt the position that Celtic fans are all good and righteous and Rangers fans the opposite.

    The football aspect is a manifestation of the culture in which it resides, not the other way about.

    The legacy of anti Irish sentiment and racism in Scotland remains and occasionally flares up, as it has recently.

    But to equate Irish republicanism with sectarianism is completely false. It is a political doctrine not a religious one, and those on either side who believe it is otherwise are wrong.

  112. Stephen Hero on said:

    #122 – Jellytot, have you read the comments being referred to by Graham Day in his post?

  113. Anonymous on said:

    #120There is an alternative

    ‘I don’t think they are an authoritative voice. However, the political establishment and by extension the law thinks that they are.’

    The political establishment use them as a way of deflecting responsibility from themselves.

    The law, or at least the courts take a more robust view. Hence the decision in the case of PC Christopher Halaka, who was charged with a breach of the beace aggravated by religious sectarianism. PC Halaka’s defence, which I understand was funded by the Police Federation, called Prof Tom Devine as an expert witness. His comments on the case, set out in a letter to The Herald, are instructive.

    ‘The controversy over the League Cup Final, and in particular the reported behaviour of some sections of the crowd who were in attendance, has been full of sound and fury but with little emerging in the way of legal clarity about what, if any, offences were committed (“Church to send Old Firm film to police”), The Herald, March 26).

    A recent experience which I had in a Scottish court may shed some light on the issues involved.

    I was called to attend a case as an expert witness in a sheriff court in which the accused were charged under Section 74 of the Criminal Justice ( Scotland) Act 2003 with committing a breach of the peace aggravated by religious prejudice. I can only surmise that I was asked to take part in these proceedings because I had advised civil servants during the time of the McConnell government on anti-sectarian policy and also edited an academic study, Scotland’s Shame ? Bigotry and Sectarianism in Modern Scotland, published in 2000.

    The accused were charged with singing sectarian songs in a public place. They stated they had indeed sung the Fields of Athenry as they were supporters of Glasgow Celtic and that the song was a firm favourite among the Parkhead crowd. However, they denied they had sung any other lyrics, suggested by the Crown, which included such phrases as “up the IRA”, “the black beret” and “Bobby Sands” .

    Early in the proceedings the Sheriff ruled that the Fields of Athenry was an Irish folk ballad and in no way could be construed as having sectarian overtones. The court then proceeded to hear submissions on whether references to the IRA, especially those which implied approval of that organisation, could be considered an offence aggravated by religious prejudice under the 2003 legislation.

    To understand which followed next it is important to be aware of the specifics of the Act. It states that an offence is aggravated by religious prejudice if : (a) “the offender evinces towards the victim (if any) of the offence malice and ill-will based on the victim’s membership or presumed membership of a religious group, or of a social or cultural group with a perceived religious affiliation; or (b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards members of a religious group, or of a social or cultural group with a perceived religious affiliation, based on their membership of that group”. The key issue therefore was: Could vocal approval of the IRA in a public place be considered not simply a potential breach of the peace but one aggravated by religious prejudice? The sheriff listened to the evidence, including my own statement, and the various submissions on this question both by defence lawyers and the Crown. He concluded that doubtless some members of the public might take offence at songs being sung in support of an organisation which the UK Government considered to be a terrorist movement. Nonetheless, he ruled that the IRA was a republican military organisation, was not sectarian in intent and that those who showed support for it, real or rhetorical, were not showing “malice or ill will towards members of a religious group’’. The charge could not therefore be sustained under the 2003 legislation and the accusation of a religiously aggravated breach was dismissed.

    To my knowledge little of this case was reported in the press, which is a pity because its results have significant legal implications as to how Scottish law officers and the police respond to fan behaviour at these matches. One conclusion is abundantly clear. Those who sing songs of hate against another religious group are, prima facie, committing an offence under the 2003 Act. I was not present at the League Cup Final nor did I see it on television. But press reports suggest that many thousands of spectators were brazenly and enthusiastically singing such songs in full view of the cameras, the media, a large audience outside Scotland and the police at one of the major occasions in the Scottish sporting calendar.

    As a democratic and civilised society we should hang our heads in collective shame, not simply as a result of the vile chants which were heard against the religious beliefs of our fellow citizens but because the forces of law and order did nothing to stop it.

    Prof Tom Devine,

    Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography,

    University of Edinburgh,

    Teviot Place, Edinburgh.’

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/mobile/comment/herald-letters/why-the-fans-who-sing-songs-of-hate-are-committing-an-offence-1.1093147

  114. 13, et al

    Jock McT, the ‘research’ you cite is nonsense from beginning to end, with
    the authors claiming there was absolutely no evidence of job discrimination against Catholics. This is the David Irving approach to history- ignore most of the evidence, rubbish the rest and then claim there is no evidence.

    The authors even claim that the Church of Scotland apologised for sectarian attacks and prejudice that didn’t happen. Nonsense. To their credit the General Assembly apologised for their own sectarian actions, sermons and publications. They also cited the materials they were apologising for

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/2014961.stm

  115. Anonymous on said:

    #129 frank

    ‘To their credit the General Assembly apologised for their own sectarian actions, sermons and publications.’

    I wonder if the SNP will ever get round to doing the same.

  116. aberfoyle on said:

    The mantra of this blog i think is Hope Not HATE,socialist lines.What has religious bigotry got to do with this blogs splein, and the anti socialist drivel, that the religious bigotory poisions.

  117. jock mctrousers on said:

    #129 oh, that’s alright then, cos frank says so.

    ‘ the David Irving school of history’? That’s a big accusation against a team of professors with long academic pedigrees. OK, that doesn’t necessarily go for anything – Alan Dershowitz for one? – but I’d be looking for some references to other expert sociologists, statisticians etc who had identified their concerns with the report.

    Have you actually read the report, or did the Amazon review just not confirm your anti-protestant prejudices?

  118. Anonymous on said:

    #132 jock mctrousers
    I haven’t read Bruce’s book and haven’t been able to find a review of it by any academic who might give a balanced and informed response, though I did find this in The Scotsman……

    ‘The Rev Alan McDonald, the convener of the Church and nation committee, who described the rate of alleged sectarian crime as “chilling”, insisted it was a major issue.

    “I’m quite confident, and so was the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, that there is a problem in Scotland. There’s absolutely no doubt that people are hurt, maimed and killed and that this is partly at least to do with sectarianism,” he said.

    “I simply do not accept what Steve Bruce is implying, that sectarianism is not a problem. I would suggest he goes to a casualty department of a hospital in Glasgow on a Saturday night and then have another look at these figures.”

    But a spokesman for the Catholic Church agreed with Prof Bruce’s central claim.

    “I don’t think Scotland is endemically sectarian, but there is sectarian behaviour and it’s incumbent on the state to eradicate it,” he said.

    “There are Catholics in Scotland who have never experienced sectarianism, but equally, I could give you examples of churches having their windows smashed and smoke bombs being thrown in during mass.”

    A spokeswoman for Nil by Mouth said it stood by its figures, but welcomed the book as a contribution to the debate.’

    http://news.scotsman.com/scotland/Top-academic-slams-sectarian-scaremongers.2522381.jp

    As others have mentioned there does appear to be a bit of a slant to his oeuvre.

    I noticed that he attended the Queen Victoria School in Dunblane, so assume therefore that his father was an army officer. I can’t help thinking that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

  119. Jimmy on said:

    133.# I like the word eradicate. The German Catholic and Lutherans were experts. Ask any Jew that survived.

  120. jim mclean on said:

    Rangers banned from next European away Match, that is going to build bridges and end the siege mentality at the Derry End.

  121. Anonymous on said:

    jock mctrousers

    Still can’t find a proper review of Prof Bruce’s magnus opus, though I did find this blurb on Amazon about his book:Paisley: Religion and Politics in Northern Ireland

    ‘The career of the Revd Ian Paisley raises vital questions about the links between religion and politics in the modern world. Paisley is unique in having founded his own church and party and led both to success, so that he effectively has a veto over political developments in Northern Ireland. Steve Bruce draws on over 20 years of close acquaintance with Paisley’s people to describe and explain Paisleyism.’

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paisley-Religion-Politics-Northern-Ireland/dp/0199281025

    Call me cynical, but if I’m looking for an objective and fair account of an issue like anti Catholic sectarianism I’m not sure that I’d be asking someone with ‘over 20 years of close acquaintance with Paisley’s people’.

  122. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Call me cynical, but if I’m looking for an objective and fair account of an issue like anti Catholic sectarianism I’m not sure that I’d be asking someone with ‘over 20 years of close acquaintance with Paisley’s people’.”

    I agree. I also would not ask John Wight given the views he held as recently as a few years ago (see #118 and 124 above). They are more extreme than Paisley’s.

  123. Anonymous on said:

    You might have a valid arguement on the act of settlement in that it is designed to stop a non protestant from becoming head of the c of e. The problem is that it refers exclusively to catholics. It is not illegal for the monarch to be muslim for example. Or for the monarch to marry anyone from any other religion bar one. This is An arguement trotted out to try and justify a clear institutional bias in the uk that holds no water when put under any sort of scrutiny.

  124. jock mctrousers on said:

    ” …Call me cynical, but if I’m looking for an objective and fair account of an issue like anti Catholic sectarianism I’m not sure that I’d be asking someone with ‘over 20 years of close acquaintance with Paisley’s people’.”

    Bruce held an academic position at a Belfast university for a long time, and wrote the major study of Ian Paisley; he could hardly have done that without getting some acquaintance with the milieu. But I used to know him slightly, and I can assure you that your conjectures as to his personality type are wide of the mark. More of the achingly trendy middle-class sociologist than orange man, and not a hint of machismo, certainly not the military type. He has written several works on the sociology of religion generally.

    Again, the work is not Bruce’s alone.

    However, this is the beginnings of the sort of discussion we should expect on a high profile grown-up socialist site, rather than the exchange of name-calling we’ve had so far. Pity we’re not likely to take it any further until the price of Bruce’s book comes down a bit.

  125. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #139, the Act states that the monarch “shall join in communion with the Church of England.” This obviously disbars Muslims or Jews as well as Catholics. Actually I imagine it would also exclude Protestants who do not hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith (or a similar Calvinist confession).

  126. Anonymous on said:

    Another wee insight into life in west central Scotland. An indication of a wider problem? You decide.

    Incidentally, what this report doesn’t say, is that ASDA also made a donation to a Rangers and a Motherwell boys club. Just to maintain balance.

    Store sorry for asking Celtic boys to leave
    Date: 29 April 2011
    By VICTORIA ALLEN
    A SUPERMARKET chain has apologised after a Celtic youth team was asked to abandon its fundraising efforts in the store following complaints from its customers.
    Members of Celtic Boys Club were asked to remove their club ties and blazers while in the Motherwell branch of Asda, before later being asked to leave the store altogether.

    The under-15 team members were helping shoppers to pack to raise money for a football tournament, but club officials said their presence provoked more than 250 complaints in the space of an hour.

    Paul Barnes, youth club chairman, said: “I’ve been with the club for nearly ten years, bagpacked at various events, and I’ve never been asked to remove blazers or ties.”

    The under-15s have now been given £200 by Asda.

    A spokesman for the firm admitted it “hadn’t got it right” when asking the 15-strong team to leave. He said: “The boys did a great job helping out customers with their shopping.”

    http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/theoldfirm/Store-sorry-for-asking-Celtic.6759638.jp

  127. Vanya on said:

    The constitutional position is that the monarch is head of the Church of England and therefore it is correct to say that not only Catholics are excluded, but the exclusion of Catholics was the purpose of the Act.

  128. Jimmy on said:

    143.The Act made sense. The continual interference from the Vatican in British politics and worldwide made this a sensible Act. The continulal religious wars for nothing. We now have religious freedom and more importantly the right not to be forced into religion. The Catholic Church just like Islamists have to be in your face with their crap. The present Queen has never in my memory tried or attempted to ram religion down our throats. That is why I give her my support. That is why the Queen has broad support from many different backgrounds.

  129. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #143

    Of course at the time of the Act, the only non-Calvinists in the UK were Roman Catholics. The possibility of a Muslim or Jewish King would not be considered (it is hard to imagine today even).

  130. #145

    I don’t think I would go along with that, the whole point of the 39 Articles of the Church of England is that the Church is broad enough to include almost all Christians in England; including Catholics.

    Calvinism per se has only ever had a minority adherence in England, even among protestants; and many Anglicans would not consider themselves protestant.

  131. 146.# The Calvanists threatened Catholic and Anglicans. That is why we have an accommodation now. Maybe an Atheist on the Throne. Nein, Nein. Verboten.

  132. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    “Calvinism per se has only ever had a minority adherence in England, even among protestants; and many Anglicans would not consider themselves protestant.”

    Anglicanism is based on the Westminster Confession which is a Reformed (Calvinist) confession. That said, the CoE has drifted far from those original roots (as have many other Churches — e.g., Methodism).

  133. Harsanyi_Janos on said:

    #147

    I’m only aware of these Calvinist roots as my uncle is a vicar in the (Calvinist of course) Reformed Church in Hungary and likes to talk about this.

  134. Anonymous on said:

    #151 Tom Minogue

    Were the views of the Church of Scotland about the threat to the Scottish race from Irish Catholic immigration not also held by many of the founders of the SNP? People like Andrew Dewar Gibb?

  135. richsw on said:

    HS @148 – I wouldn’t want to get involved in a debate that includes barking Jimmy, but the enactments that contained the Westminster Confession were nullified on the Restoration in 1660, surely? They passed into legitimacy in Scotland, in 1690? (o memory, memory) again, but never in England. I don’t (because I don’t know) say this explains the racism which is the main subject of this thread, by the way…

  136. richsw, yes you are right.

    ” The continual interference from the Vatican in British politics and worldwide made this a sensible Act.”

    That is not history. Do you only know Orange fairy stories. The Vatican was a supporter of William of Orange mainly because of fear of the French King. The Act was intended to cement the power grab of a section of the English elite.

  137. jim mclean on said:

    Scottish Racism, never heard the likes, I mean you will be saying the Transport Union made employers sack non whites and the Seamans Union had a total colour bar tempered with the odd attempted lynching.

  138. sRev on said:

    2.I hear it’s quite acceptable at dinner parties to racially abuse the English or Englishness, indeed there have been instances of it recently on this blog which have gone unchallenged.

    “dinner parties” sounds like a scottish Boss class and perhaps They would like to get rid the english capitalists so that they can be in the driving seat of oppression…
    but my point is that England/Britain is the oppressor here and behind the IRA campaign of armed struggle was the fact that Ireland is an oppressed nation under “British Imperial” control…… now isn’t it that Scotland is also an opressed nation within the ‘prison-house’ of the “UK”? Wales? for that matter, Cornwall is ‘historically’ a “nation” with own language and culture etc