I was watching the Celtic match against Hearts tonight in a bar in the West of Ireland.
At the bar was a Scotsman travelling the island for a pharmaceutical firm.As the events unfolded I made the point that this was showing up Scotland to the world.
He shrugged and didn’t respond.
As the second and third goal went in I suspected he wasn’t from the Celtic family.
I gave him some advice on the best route to his next destination and some pharmacies that might not be on his list.
I told him he would find a welcome across the places he was intending to travel.
“There is always a warm welcome for a Scots voice in my father’s county” I told him.
“Unlike over there where it is a crime to Irish.”
He didn’t answer, but merely studied the remains of his bar meal.
Had he been in a mood to converse on this subject I would have told him that yesterday morning I was at the BBC in Pacific Quay in Glasgow being interviewed for a documentary on Scotland’s “sectarian problem.”
An elderly man from Dublin asked me “what’s their problem over there with Lennon?”
My answer was simple.
“He’s an Irish catholic managing Celtic, an Irish club in Scotland. Everything else is irrelevant.”
The man at the bar didn’t contradict or intervene.
He left before the final whistle.
In the aftermatch analysis the only talking point was the attack on the Celtic manager.
There have been, of course, physical assaults on Neil Lennon before.
However this one was the first to happen at his place of work.
The televised game would have been seen by millions.
I hope the clip of the thug attacking the Lurgan man goes viral.
It will produce iconic images of an ugly society that harbours and authorises a deep visceral hatred of Catholics in general and Irish Catholics in particular.
It is instructive that this happened at Tynecastle not Ibrox as it takes this issue out of the “Old Firm” setting.
When Aidan McGeady was being subjected to racist abuse on an almost weekly basis for choosing to play for the Republic of Ireland it was not just Rangers fans who were the offenders.
Neil Lennon’s assailant is the product of a society that authorises the hatred of Irish Catholics.
Scotland, like a dysfunctional family, cannot see the destructive patterns.
It normalises the bizarre behaviour.
Scottish society needs help, outside help, to fix its anti-Irish pathology.
A society with ingrained hatred of the Irish continues to shrug as the evidence piles up on almost a daily basis.
Tonight’s attack on Neil Lennon at Tynecastle is just another worrying symptom that Scotland is far from its teachable moment.