By Phil Mac Giolla Bhain
An ex-Republic of Ireland international and anti-racism expert has slammed the official inaction at anti-Irish racism in Scotland after the most recent stunt by supporters of Glasgow Rangers.
At the recent old firm match in Glasgow Rangers supporters unfurled a banner with a bus on it imploring that the city’s Irish community should go back to Ireland. The banner was made by “The Blue Order” the Ibrox club’s official fan club.
Kieron Brady, a Glaswegian who played for Sunderland and the Republic, is recognised as one of the leading anti-racist educationalists in the country, who, until recently, worked for the charity Show Racism The Red Card.
The banner is undoubtedly racist. I think many familiar with recent events surrounding anti-Irish racism would opine that the banner is a derivation of the Famine Song’s motivations, only expressed visually as opposed to vocally. The reference to Stranraer and how the word ‘Offended’ is constructed leaves those who view the banner under no illusion that it’s target group is the Irish Diasporic community in Scotland and despite what many in Scotland may think, stemming from the principles of Equality, the Irish community have the same rights not to be discriminated against as any other ethnic or immigrant grouping.”
“My view is that this banner is indicative of a profound intolerance of the aforementioned community. I fail to see how it can be viewed otherwise. I personally find it sad that supporters collective can sate their prejudice by altering the well-documented manifestation of anti-Irish racism. To substantiate the claim of it’s profoundness I would point to the fact that the police, swell as anti-racist groups with expertise in this field had deemed the Famine Song as racist, yet this particular group of supporters still insisted on the creation of a banner similarly themed and were on the face of it were willing to discount any subsequent implications.”
Brady fired a salvo at the Ibrox club itself:
“The attitude of Rangers as a club and the accompanying rhetoric is in stark contrast to how clubs deal with racism by and large in England. Clubs on the whole condemn the racism almost instantaneously and take steps to ensure the racists are located and consequently prohibited from stadia. The lukewarm utterances of those in the employ of Rangers only serves to illustrate that they have comprehended that this represents a unique, significant and serious problem, irrespective of whether we deal in the semantics of a ‘minority’. If there were a forthright perception that this is a small minority that continuously besmirch the name and image of the club then surely it would not be beyond the realms of possibility for those in the higher echelons of Rangers FC to issue a statement asserting that those who hold anti-Irish attitudes are no longer welcome at Ibrox Park. All that said I am aware that Rangers FC do engage with groups campaigning against racism and other forms of intolerance. However, as encouraging as education in the bowels of Ibrox may be through the week, there is a futility if there is a lack of preparedness to banish those from the stadium who are incapable of attendance at fixtures without voicing their ingrained prejudice.
Brady received support from Scottish politicians in the governing SNP. Alasdair Alan the Scottish national MSP for the Western Isles stated:
“However generously, you try to interpret this banner, I am afraid its unambiguous message is that families who have lived in Scotland for 150 years should be “repatriated”. I don’t think Scotland can put up with intolerance on that scale, and I would welcome the fact that all Scottish football clubs are now working to eradicate these embarrassing displays of ignorance.”
Professor Chris Harvie MSP, SNP member for East Scotland said:
”The folk who get their kicks out of the ‘Famine Song’ and this provocative football banner vegetate on their own sad wee planet. No-one wants to visit it or them.”