By Phil Mac Giolla Bhain
Last week Alan Shatter TD submitted a Dail question to Foreign Minister Micheal Martin about the Famine Song controversy in Scotland.
The Minister stated, ” in common with the vast majority of people in Britain and Ireland, I condemn the singing of songs or other actions which promote or encourage racism, sectarianism or xenophobia of any kind. “.
I spoke with Deputy Shatter last week and he confirmed to me that he had also written directly to Rangers Football club to express his concern for this “anti-Irish chanting” indulged in by thousands of Rangers’ fans regularly.
He had taken this action after being contacted by a constituent who had attended the Celtic Rangers match on August 31st.
Shatter’s written question was answered on October 9th the day of Rangers football club’s AGM in Glasgow. Sir David Murray, the owner of Rangers, called on Rangers supporters who engage in “sectarian bile” to cease their activity. He also stated that he would be meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond to defend the club’s good name.
Coinciding with the AGM the Scottish Football association held a high level press conference about their continued attempts to stamp out anti-social behaviour, sectarianism and racism at Scottish soccer stadia. Smith stated that it would be inappropriate to punish clubs for the behaviour of their fans. “The clubs are doing everything they can, it would be unfair to punish them”.
A Scottish Premier League spokesperson told me that the SPL had a series of sanctions in place against clubs if their fans behaved in a racist manner.
Neither David Murray nor ex-Rangers player Gordon Smith mentioned the famine song.
The main organisation in Scotland dedicated to eliminating racism in football is Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) .
Last week on it’s website SRTRC, partly funded by the SFA, stated for the first time that the “Famine Song” was, in their opinion, racist.
Alasdair Allan the Scottish National Party Member of the Scottish Parliament for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (western Isles) stated that:
“The sentiments in this song are unquestionably anti-Irish and racist. The overwhelming majority of people here would say that there is no room in Scotland for this song.”