Radio Interview about ‘The Famine Song’

Phil was interviewed by Matt Cooper on Today FM’s “The Last Word” on Wednesday 8th October.

Click link to hear audio  The Famine Song

Phil was invited onto the show because he had broke the story on his blog earlier that day that a parliamentary question about the Famine Song was going to be asked the next day by Alan Shatter TD to Micheal Martin Foreign Minister.

The Famine Song a Timeline of Official Inaction

April 16th – Celtic v Rangers.  It is aired for the first time. Within days Show Racism the Red Card are innundated with complaints.

Week beginning April 21 – Complainants receive responses from SRTRC that the song is racist and they are in dialogue with the SPL, SFA and Rangers FC about the song.  The request for an ethnic group to go home is a racist mantra and has been for many years.

It is NOT the Famine reference that makes the song racist.

April 27th – Celtic v Rangers – It is sang in greater numbers and on at least four occasions.  The SPL delegate is Willie McDougall, ex-Rangers employee and associate of SRTRC.  Later that evening a Celtic fan of Irish background is murdered.  In the ensuing days there is no condemnation from any quarter.  The song now starts to feature on more and more Bebo pages and there is a significant increase on it’s references in various search engines.

May 9th – Representatives from IDSA (Irish Diaspora in Scotland Association), Garngad Irish Association and the Celtic Trust meet SRTRC to discuss measures to stop the song being sung. Both SRTRC representatives opine that the song is racist.

May 10th – Rangers v Dundee United.  The song is sang specifically at Noel Hunt,an Irish Dundee United player.  There is no condemnation from any quarter,including PFA Scotland, the footballers union.

May 14th – Rangers v Zenit.  The song is sung in the UEFA Cup Final.

In April and May the song is sang in games under the jurisdiction of the SPL and UEFA with the SPL in the full knowledge that thousands of supporters are being openly racist each week.

May 12th – Gordon Smith, Martin Bain, Lex Gold and others attend the Show Racism the Red Card awards ceremony in Downing Street.  Their presence is seen as a commitment to challenge racism in Scottish

May 24th – Scottish Cup Final.  Rangers entertain minnows Queen of the South in Scotland’s showpiece occasion.  The song is aired in the presence of Gordon Smith and the SFA.  They also have been told the
song is racist.  There is no condemnation from Smith or the SFA.

June – Despite requests for further dialogue Show Racism the Red Card do not respond to contact from the Irish groups or the Celtic Trust.

June 9th – Show Racism the Red Card ackowledge privately they have had by this stage more than 100 complaints about the song.  This is unprecedented for the organisation and perhaps for almost any
anti-racist body.  Generally media coverage post-racism means the necessity is not there to complain to anti-racist bodies.

July – SRTRC inform complainants who followed up initial correspondence that dialogue is ongoing with the SPL,SFA,Rangers FC and the Rangers Supporters Trust.

August 9th – Falkirk v Rangers- The Famine Song reappears in stadia.

August 16th – Rangers v Hearts – The song emerges, but with a worrying development alluded to.  T-shirts are now on sale with sentiments stemming from the message of the Famine Song urging consideration from the Irish community to repatriate.

August 23rd – Aberdeen v Rangers – The song is sang throughout the fixture at Pittodrie.

August 31st – Celtic v Rangers – Despite conjecture that the song could lead to arrest it is sang with gusto.  Later that evening, Neil Lennon, the Irish coach of Celtic is beaten up in Glasgow.  Craig Brown, SRTRC patron and former Rangers player is the SPL delegate.  There is no subsequent condemnation.

September 15th – The BBC Scotland Reporting Scotland reports that the Irish Government, through it”s Consulate in Edinburgh has voiced it’s concerns over the song and sentiments.

September 16th – Rangers FC through Martin Bain release a statement asking for supporters to refrain from singing what has became known as the Famine Song.

September 21st – Rangers v Motherwell – Despite the request the song is aired by a significant section of the home support.

Septmember 28th – Hibernian v Rangers – Again the song is sang frequently throughout with many of the opinion that defiance is as much as a motivation as age old anti-Irish racism.  Just prior to kick off Celtic FC release a statement with John Reid, the Celtic chairman deeming the song as racist.  Again Willie McDougall is the SPL delegate for the fixture.

October 1st – An article in the Irish Post features contributions from anti-racist bodies Kick it Out and Searchlight.  Both deem the song as racist,with the former intimating that the Irish Government were correct in involving themselves in this issue.

October 1st – Show Racism the Red Card release a statement on their website which to many regurgitates the September 16th statement of Rangers FC.  They do not label the song as racist.

October 6th – Show Racism the Red Card amend the statement with an additional sentence which says “We are of the opinion this song is racist”.  The general consensus is that SRTRC have been left with no
option but to follow the lead of other similarly motivated bodies.  Prior to this the leading anti-racist body Kick it Out, the Equality and Human Rights Comission and the anti-racist and anti-fascist group Searchlight all label the song and sentiments as racist.

To date the SPL and SFA have not condemned the song, nor labelled it as racist despite being told almost six months ago the song is racist.  As a result Rangers FC have not been sanctioned.

Famine Song Question in Dail Eireann

By Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

Irish politician Alan Shatter TD has submitted a Dail question to Foreign Minister Micheal Martin about the Famine Song controversy in Scotland.

I spoke with Deputy Shatter last week and he confirmed to me that he had acted after a constituent had contacted him.

“I am urging Minister Martin to directly contact Alex Salmond, the Scottish First minister in Edinburgh, to deal with the racist chanting of the “Famine Song” by Rangers supporters at soccer matches in Scotland,” said Deputy Shatter  ”Rangers supporters should get behind their world famous team and move on from the hatred of the past. I also hope that the club itself will deal with the supporters who will not desist from singing this racist song.”

In a separate development the organisation “Show Racism the Red Card” (SRTRC) has called upon supporters of all clubs to refrain from singing songs and participating in behaviour that contravenes
footballing regulations as outlined by FIFA, UEFA and the SPL and that may result in possible prosecution from the police. In a statement on the SRTRC website specifically referred to the “The Famine Song”. The statement from SRTRC was very similar to that of the Rangers FC in that it warned Rangers supporters singing this song that they may be liable to arrest for a “racial breach of the peace..” The statement from SRTRC, like the one from Rangers, did not condemn the “Famine Song” as racist. This first statement from SRTRC had coincided with the publication of the Irish Post’s first piece on the Famine song controversy, which highlighted SRTRC’s lack of action on this issue.

That was SRTRC’s stated position at close of business on Friday 3rd October.  By Monday 6th October midday they had changed the text of this section on their website to include the statement.

“We refer to “The Famine Song” which is being sung by sections of the Rangers support. We are of the opinion that this song is racist. Both Rangers Football Club and Strathclyde Police have stated that anyone singing this song risked being arrested. UEFA guidelines stipulate that “racial abuse” or “discrimination” is not confined to skin colour. It can also be reflected in abuse for being foreign or from
an ethnic minority background.”

To the innocent reader it would appear that, as of October 1st, SRTRC  publicly considered the “Famine song” to be racist when this was not the case.

This journalist was unable to solicit any direct quote from the organisation despite speaking to two members of staff at SRTRC on several attempts. My request for SRTRC coordinator Billy Singh to get
back to me and speak for the organisation did not happen.

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. This song is so sad on a number
of levels. If people only knew their history they would know that the potato blight was such a terrible disaster and led to death and devastation in both Ireland and Scotland.”

Anti-Irish Racism is treated as Non-Issue

PDF of article in Irish PostThis article is from The Irish Post on 4th October 2008 by Phil on the continuing debate over ‘The Famine Song’ or moreso the issue of Anti-Irish Racism in Scotland.

Click on the image on the right to view the PDF of this article.

The text from the article is posted below.


“Over the past few weeks I have re-visited the decision that my wife and I took in 1995 in Glasgow to sell up and move to Donegal.  When we moved our son Cathal was four his sister Roisin was a baby and we just got news that number three was on the way!  It is normal to re-evaluate such a major life decisions, especially when it involves your children.  Events this year in Scotland have re-affirmed that the decision was the correct one.

 Since last April to supporters of Glasgow Rangers have had a new song.

To the tune of the “The sloop John B ” the song is aimed at Glasgow’s Irish

community who follow Celtic.

The song have five verses, here is the first one:

I often wonder where they would have been
If we hadn't have taken them in
Fed them and washed them
Thousands in Glasgow alone
From Ireland they came
Brought us nothing but trouble and shame
Well the famine is over
Why don't they go home?

The Scottish police have advised Rangers that anyone singing this song is in danger of being arrested for a  “racial breach of the peace.”

The Irish government’s consulate in Edinburgh was involved in seeking clarification from the Scottish government as to what they were doing about this racist karaoke after letters of complaint had been written to the Irish embassy in London.

So far the official response from the Scottish government has been muted.

When the story of the Irish governments involvement broke in Scotland journalist Ewen Cameron interviewed me on the Real Radio football phone-in about the Irish government’s involvement. I stated my own opinion that the song was racist as well as outlining how the story had developed.  In the days that followed that radio interview my own website ( was deluged with racist abuse from Rangers fans. Most of it was too vile to be approved for viewing.

Most of it, however, was simply ungrammatical.

The “famine Song” is only the most recent manifestation of Scotland’s oldest racism. Moreover it is tolerated by the leaders of Scottish society.

Although Rangers FC are currently subject of a probation order from UEFA for “discriminatory chanting” during European games the club will probably escape any sanction from the Scottish soccer authorities for these domestic outpourings of racism towards the Irish community in Scotland by a section of their supporters.

At the recent home game against Motherwell the Rangers football club distributed copies of a club statement to fans going into Ibrox stadium.

The statement warned the reader that the singing of the “famine song” could be lead to the singer being arrested.

The statement from Rangers did not condemn the song.

During the game the song was defiantly belted out by a large section of the crowd.

There were no reports of any arrests.

This all takes place against a background of official inaction by organisations in Scotland that are tasked and funded to tackle racism in soccer.

One such organisation is “Show Racism the Red Card”  (SRTRC) in Scotland has not publicly condemned the song despite SRTRC writing back to complainants in May that the song was, in the organisation’s opinion, racist. 

Piara Powar National Director of “Kick It Out”, an English based organisation, welcomed the intervention of the Irish government in the Famine Song controversy.

” This sort of government to government action is what we need because it takes it out of the hands of the football authorities. This is a matter of ethnic and national identity and it is appropriate that the Irish government should have become involved on behalf if its citizens.”

Matthew Collins, a journalist for the antifascist magazine Searchlight: “In my opinion, the song is racist as it is aimed at and about a particular section of society that has its own distinct language, ethnicity and cultural heritage. The song has a nasty, vile and intolerable content, rather like the morons who sing it.”

George Galloway MP, himself born in Dundee of Irish decent, was unequivocal about the famine Song when asked what should the Scottish football authorities do about this song being sung inside soccer stadia? “There should be a zero tolerance approach. Imagine if it was ‘the Holocaust is over…’ or ‘Slavery is over…’ There would rightly be an outraged reaction from the authorities. There should be now.”

The Scottish media have historically turned a blind eye to the anti-Irish racism that is all around them or they subsume it under the handy catchall term “sectarianism.” 

Despite the fact that Scots of Italians parentage have largely escaped the discrimination and abuse heaped onto the Irish for generations in Scotland. I can make a John McCain defence on behalf on my fellow journalists in Scotland.

It isn’t that they don’t care about anti-Irish racism in Scotland it’s just that they don’t get it.

On Monday 22nd in his column for the Daily Record Sports journalist and BBC broadcaster James Traynor dismissed the Famine song controversy thus.

“So, to all those, of any religion or race, who think Scotland is such a bad, twisted place full of bigots and racists there is only one thing to say.


Go on, just gather up your prejudices, take your suspicions and pack your loathing of Scotland.

Go find a better place to live and leave us to get on with the job of making something good of this country.”

That could not be clearer than if it had been screamed at you from the cheap seats in Ibrox Park.

Glasgow is the only major city in Britain to receive famine refugees that has no famine memorial. Coincidence?

The Famine is indeed over, although we continue to deal with the demographic and psychological aftermath here in Ireland and in the worldwide Diaspora.

Recently my son received his Junior cert results from his Gaeilscoil, a real milestone in our time here in Donegal.

In sean Dun Na nGall it is not a crime to be called Cathal. His sisters Roisin and Aislinn are in also in a culturally safe place.

I now know that I did come home and I am daily convinced that it was the correct move for my family and myself. However it is sad that, in a very fundamental way, the city of my birth will never be home to me while these vile racists enjoy official tolerance.”

Scotland’s British Problem

Racists always make sense. They make sense to themselves and other racists (presuming of course that they are of the same perceived racial/ethnic group).

For the last 500 years the dominant ethnic group on the planet has been the white western European group.

That much is undeniable and self-evident.

The top of that particular racial pile-100 years ago-were the British.

The Germans tried to topple the British, but they failed.

However despite their failure to take out Britain Germany drained the strength of the London state and, in the end, the colonials in America had to save the old country with Lend Lease.

The North European white tribe had a new leader.

The old boys in London didn’t realise this until Suez in 1956.

Now, of course it is the Americans that are top dogs and the British bulldog knows it.

 The Ivy League Blue Bloods who have run the American state since the creation of the USA represents an unbroken racial supremacy dating back to Henry VIII.

Within western Europe the expansion of strong states to incorporate “ peripheral culture s of low prestige” was brilliantly mapped out by Michael Hechter in his “Internal colonialism”(1999) he used the example of the expansion of the London state to become the dominant power in the north European archipelago.

If all the subject peoples of these islands the rural Irish. Remaining catholic after the reformation and emotionally thirlled to the Brehon laws, even after Cromwellian ethnic cleansing, remained outside the emotional contract.

Like all peoples of internal colonies they provide military and industrial recruits to the power centre.

The Irish who flocked to British cities were no different to Bretons and Corsicans who provided the French republic with its soldiers and factory fusiliers.

The descendants of these reluctant arrivistes have several paths to take-these routes are often marked out for them by the powerful.

They can remain distinct by being systematically excluded and ghettoised like European Jewry.

They can fully integrate and become indistinguishable like the Cornish who provided greater Wessex with agricultural labour.

The Glasgow Irish over the last 150 years are probably somewhere in the middle.

At no time were the Irish locked up in ghettoes although there was a limit to their social mobility. In Scotland there was a tartan ceiling that the Irish could not pass through.

As late as the 1960s a certain major Scottish bank had a formal ban on Catholics being employed there.

Now of course that Scottish bank is no longer a Scottish bank, but in the 1960s the Scottish bank in question was owned and run by Scots.

Catholic was a handy badge to identify and exclude members of the Irish.

However the social division was never truly about religion.

Just like Rangers football club-everyone-including the Catholics knew the rules.

Some Catholics did better than others.

Rangers supporters sing and chant about “Fenian Bastards” not “Catholic bastards”

It wasn’t a crime to be an Italian Scot. They remained fiercely catholic. Their homeland was a republic and was home to the Pope!

Italy had sided with the Axis powers in WW2.

Yet a benign integration ,while being allowed to remain distinctly Italian, was afforded them.

Perhaps if only the Irish had been able to make ice cram!

As ever politics is in everything.

Despite being catholic from the losing side of WW2 the Italians in Scotland did not represent the threat to the entire British project that the Irish did.

In the late 19th century a Scottish catholic cleric Bishop Grey was concerned about the Irish refugees and argued with an Irish colleague Bishop Devine.

Given that both Bishops were probably Catholics we can rule out religious intolerance as well in this one!

What was the issue was that the Irish were Fenians.

The Irish had among their number revolutionaries who wished the empire nothing but ill will.

Karl Marx was alive and writing at this time and noted a definitive difference between the Irish and the British proletariat.

The Famine and the Land war in Ireland had produced the Fenian Brotherhood.

The first act of asymmetrical warfare in modern times in these islands –the Clerkenwell explosion- introduced dynamite to the arsenal of the Irish revolutionary.

The Catholicism of the Irish was never the issue for the host community.

Fenianism was THE issue.

The armed threat to the state was the issue, not transubstantiation.

The Fenian fuse finally reached its logical destination in Easter 1916.

The Proclamation is the written statement of a cultural revolution.

It mapped out the end of Greater England.

Historians may yet write that it was the start of the beginning of the London state’s grip on this archipelago.

The Republic of Ireland is-as Alex Salmond says-  “an independence success story”.

That long journey to being such a success story started in Easter 1916.

Easter 1916 is justifiably celebrated by the Irish people and the Irish state. The British send their representative and wreaths are laid by the Irish Army and the British army.

Thankfully all of this is in the past and the Dublin state and the London state could not be closer allies on many issues.

Anti-Irish racism was a creation of the centrifugal force of the London state at its zenith. Although there had been writings about the barbarous Irish as far back as the twelfth century. Giraldis Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales) was also very catholic….

That centrifuge is slowing down now. We maybe in the end of days for the British state.

It will not, in my opinion, survive full Scottish freedom. Finally the Auld sang could begin again. That new beginning for Scotland will, necessarily be the end of “Britishness”. The Scots who berate the Glasgow Irish may finally stop wearing England shirts at Ibrox and realise how appallingly they behaved when they were England’s docile natives.

One cannot explain the “Famine song” of recent controversy without understanding the different roles that the Catholic Irish and the Protestant Scots played in the British Empire when that empire was in existence.

The British Empire is, of course, a thing of the past.

A historical fact, but something that is done with, over, finished and never to return.


The centre of that empire-that once spanned the globe- is now also in terminal decline. The UK is now struggling even to be a junior ally of the US empire (which is also starting to stumble in the imperial game as China waits their turn).

The new Scotland can have no place for the league of empire loyalist with their visceral hatred of the Irish.

Scotland, like Ireland can play a full part in the development of a European polity.

The “mother country” so loved of the England shirt wearing Rangers fans will soon be too busy dealing with the home grown Jihadis in Bradfordistan to notice that the descendants of a successful English annexation in the 18th century are finally being themselves again-just like the Irish.

I am confident that more and more Scots will find their confidence and their voice to take their place among nations once more.

I am glad I came home to Ireland, but I wish the country of my birth well in dealing with their British problem at Ibrox.

For if Scotland is to progress and takes its place among the nations of the world then the Ibrox psychosis will need to be finally dealt with.











Last week and without any great fanfare George W Bush broke from deep cover and moved to strike at the enemy.

He took out the free market.

Bush is a commie!

All these years the free wheeling oilman from Crawford Texas with the rich daddy and well-connected Saudi buddies was actually a closet leftie.

He had us all fooled.

It was a brilliant cover making the Manchurian candidate look like false nose and glasses from a Christmas cracker!

Had Hugo Chavez moved on the financial system of Venezuela in a similar fashion then we could safely assume that the lads in Langley would be planning another coup.

In fact what Bush did with his move in state control of the economy was much less than what Salvadore Allende did in Chile in the early 1970s.

The democratically elected President of Chile offended US business interest he paid with his life, as did thousands of other Chileans who were tainted with leftism.

The Bush administration on Saturday formally proposed a vast bailout of the United States financial system, requesting unfettered authority for the Treasury Department to buy up to $700 billion in mortgage-related assets from financial institutions based in the United States.

The US state is now the owner of major financial institutions and millions of US homes.

The most right wing, free market US president in a generation has nationalised banks and taken a huge housing stock into public ownership.

Read that sentence again, because it doesn’t look right does it?

What we are trying to witness is as ungraspable as what the people of the developed world started to witness in 1929.

We have no idea what is unfolding-we only know that the epoch is about to change.

In 1929 Hitler was a nobody. A sick deluded man with a handful of followers. Then a huge financial tsunami, which no one had predicted, catapulted  him to be the saviour of the German people.

Millions of sane rational Germans voted for him five years after Wall Street crashed.

You know the rest.

Who will be the new Hitler?

Where will the new Nazis emerge?

We have no idea.

Not a single one of us.

History-contrary to popular misconception does not repeat itself.

Similar things to reoccur again and again-like wars over scarce resources in times of shortage.

That is the human story, but the circumstances of the new conflict are never exactly the same as before.

I was born in the 1950s.

All of my life the world financial system-set up after World War Two-has worked.

There have been recessions, downturns, readjustments and blips.

Through all that the system worked.

Historians will argue about whether or not these eight years of Bush was the key pathogen in a global catastrophe.

The ideological drive to de-regulate and then de-regulate some more was a coup d’etat against the financial order that the world had enjoyed since the end of World War Two.

It could have been different if people in powerful judicial positions in Florida in 2000 had acted with good authority.

They didn’t.

President Gore would undoubtedly have taken corrective action as envisaged by J.M. Keynes and by the smart men who met and concocted the “Bretton Woods agreement” while Hitler and the Empire of Japan had yet to be defeated.

This was admirable forward planning.

The new world order was being planned and the IMF was a key part of that every bit as much as the UN.

Now the US federal debt is a number that I cannot pronounce .I have to count and recount the numbers of zeroes and work out what it is as a word.

Historian Niall Ferguson said that the US Empire, in his book “Colossus”, had three deficits.

Manpower, Finance and attention.

The middle one just got a lot worse.

China now owns a sizeable chunk of the US economy just as America bailed out Britain during World War One.

The geo-politics of the planet are starting to tip towards China again for the first time in 500 years.

While the American legions are embroiled in the battlefields of the Middle East central Asia Beijing quietly builds up its power.

The invincible US military has found its own forests of Germania just as Britain over-reached itself on the Somme.

Islam is bleeding America dry and the Jihadi cannot be parleyed with. There will be no Paris Peace accord with the Al Qaeda franchise that is opening up a branch near you soon.

The old men of Beijing have no war to fight with Islam, but quietly buy up US assets while their people labour in the new workshop of the world.

The Chinese curse could not be more apt.

These are indeed fascinating times.

Damn it!







The anger that reveals impotence

Racists are not happy when their victims will not be quiet and accept their allotted role as lesser beings.

In the Deep South of the United States the “Uppity Nigger” was something that could not be allowed by all right thinking white folks.


Soon those “folks” maybe ruled by their worst nightmare.


I hope that comes to pass.


I have the facility of allowing or not allowing comments onto this site.


This is a power that the victim of racism usually doesn’t have the luxury of.

Where the comments have been non-abusive and non-threatening I have approved them.


People are free not to agree with me as I reserve the right to disagree with them.


However that liberal attitude to a lively debate is a red rag to a racist bull.


The people who have objected to my opposition to the “Famine Song” do not believe I have the right to object.


That is what the famine song is all about.


It reflects the 19th century Punch cartoon view that Victorian Britain had of Irish people.  Probably only among the rougher elements of Rangers supporters do those attitudes to Irish people still persist.

Like the poor white trash of America when they see successful African Americans they long for the days when the blacks  “knew their place”.

The Irish of the global gaeltacht are no longer Britain’s victims.

We are a success story of the third wave of the info sphere and the de-massified media. Alvin Toffler could have written for the script for this new Irish Diaspora.

The Rangers supporters who sing the “Famine Song” with such gusto hark back to an old culture of the certainties of the British Empire where the Irish had no choice, but to know their place. In that world the community that supported Rangers had a few more crumbs from the imperial table. A few extra crumbs were all that it took. They were not the bottom of the pile in Clydeside in the old days. Rangers football club throughout most of the 20th century did not field players who were known to be Catholics. Recently a Rangers player from the 1960s Sandy Jardine said when he arrived at the club in 1964 there were no Catholics at the club even in the backroom staff. It wasn’t a written policy, but that is how the place operated. Everyone knew, everyone understood. That was the emotional contract with the paying public. The world tilted slightly since 1989 when Rangers, under a new management team signed an ex-Celtic player Maurice Johnston who is a catholic.


Since then many Rangers players have been Catholics these players have been from France, Italy and Spain as well, of course, from Scotland. Their religion has not been an issue. Rangers first catholic captain was Italian Lorenzo Amoruso. The Rangers supporters took him to their hearts. His religion wasn’t an issue, nor of course should it have been. Amoruso embodied what was at the core of the Ibrox psychosis. That Lorenzo Amoruso was a catholic was, at the end of the day, no big deal. What their captain could not be was an Irish catholic. For a player to be able to say he was a Rangers and Republic of Ireland international is simply an appalling vista for the hordes who lustily belt out the “Famine song”. There are Catholics in Scotland of Italian descent as there are Catholics of Irish descent. The Ibrox hatred is aimed at the latter. In my writings in the Irish Post in the 1990s I made this point again and again. This is about ethnicity and nationality in Glasgow not about religion.


Rangers football club has issued a statement saying that if their fans sing “The Famine song” at a match then they are in danger of being arrested for a “racial breach of the peace.” This was the advice that Rangers had received from the Scottish police.


So the police think this song is racist.


When Rangers were formed in 1873 Britain was the world’s unrivalled global superpower. It is hard to imagine that now. Within this archipelago the Catholic Irish were clearly first of many victims of that empire. That is why Irish people have a natural affinity with so many other peoples who also were forced to live under the union flag. Happily that flag is almost gone from the planet as a symbol of imperialism.

Rangers as an institution grew up in the early 20th century to be a power in the land as a focus for anti-Irish sentiment in Glasgow. The Irish of early 20th century Britain, especially on the Clyde, would be analogous to how some people view British born Muslims today. The Irish were always the enemy within for imperial Britain par excellance.


The world has moved on, but a section of the Ibrox support is still caught in that time warp. Scottish journalist Graham Speirs, himself a Rangers supporter and committed Christian, said that the Ibrox club had a “white underclass attached to them. They are financially and intellectually impoverished.” Speirs, who said this in a radio show just after Rangers fans had rioted in Manchester at the UEFA cup final, has become a hate figure for the representatives of this underclass who have access to a computer.

Their anger that has poured onto soccer message boards and onto this site over the last 24 hrs since my interview on Real Radio is a manifestation of their frustration that a culture is changing and they don’t like it.                  


It is always a good sign when racists are angry.


They are angry because they are impotent.


Contented racists are a sign that the oppressor has power over the oppressed.


That is no longer the case. That is why the hatred and abuse now pours into this site like so much toxic waste.


I will only allow those into public view if their missives are civil, polite and capable of basic sentence structure.

The laughter of my children

If you are reading this and you are a parent then you will instantly get what is about to appear a few lines down your screen. If you are not a parent then you will either dismiss the statement I am about to make or take my word for it, because you certainly wont “get it”. This is a parent thing. There is no way I can explain it to the childless. In fact I didn’t think it is possible for anyone to explain the following to the childless.

Ok here goes.

You will not tolerate a situation for your own kids that you endured as a child.

All the parents reading these words nod inwardly in quiet comprehension.

The rest of you will have to take it on faith.

That is how I felt when the “Famine Song” came to my notice in May of this year.

The UEFA cup final in Manchester had not passed without incident.

Manchester had seen the worst outbreak of civil disorder since the Miner’s strike of 1985.

The rioters were supporters of Rangers’ football club.

I wasn’t surprised by any of this. Anyone who knows the reputation of Rangers support knows that crowd trouble is a camp follower of their expeditions into European competition.

What WAS new was a song that was sung by a section of the crowd in the City of Manchester stadium.

It mocked the Irish famine and implored the target of this ditty “ to go home”.

That the opposition on the night was Zenit St. Petersberg from Russia mattered not a jot. This song was written for back home. It was intended to bait and taunt the supporters of their city rivals Celtic.

Most Celtic supporters in Glasgow can conjure up an Irish ancestor or two.

My own ancestry is a probably not uncommon for Glasgow born followers of Celtic.

One Irish born parent (my father from Mayo) and a settled family in Scotland who came to Scotland during the land war evictions. My mother’s grandparents were from Carlow and Donegal. All were rural poor Catholics. All of my great grandparents were children of the Famine generation. They had held on in places like Mayo and Donegal, just.

Not surprisingly between such a household in the East End of Glasgow and summer vacation on Mayo’s Atlantic coast I grew up with a keen sense of Irishness.

It was a proud rite of passage when the Irish embassy in London posted me my green passport with the golden harp embossed on the front.

Inside I savoured the words   “saoranach d’eirinn”. The literal English translation is “free person of Ireland” on the passport it was  “Irish citizen”.

I was indeed a citizen and not a subject of someone’s hereditary good fortune.

Citizen was good enough for me and it has been so ever since. One of the reasons I loved foreign travel as a young man was my affirmation at airports and borders of my Irish identity.

I have relatives with an identical genealogy in Philadelphia and in Ohio. There it isn’t a problem in the USA to have an Irish lineage. In fact it is something of a social advantage.

The Famine song would never be sung to Irish Americans. Never.

With the new football season in Scotland the famine song was again sung by the supporters of Glasgow Rangers.

This time it was what they really wanted. They were allowed to sing it inside the stadium of their archrivals as their team comprehensively beat Celtic 4-2.

In this hate fest the excellent performance of the Rangers’ players who fully deserved their victory was a mere sideshow for the Rangers support.

They had the serious business of pouring out racial hatred for those in Glasgow who remember that part of them will always, emotionally, be in Ireland.

A couple of weeks later the Irish Times published a letter by a Mr. Dan Duggan who had been at the game with his children. He was appalled at the anti-Irish racism given vent and fury in 2008 in a British soccer stadium. He was sickened by the “Famine song”.

Reading Dan Duggan’s (Rangers and racism, Irish Times 10/09/2008) reminded me that I made the correct decision to take my young family out of Glasgow in the mid 1990s.

The day that I read Duggan’s letter my son received his Junior cert results from his Gaeilscoil here in Donegal. Like his Mayo grandfather he is a fluent Irish speaker capable of a subtle and nuanced conversation in the first language of this republic.

In sean Dun Na nGall it is not a crime to be called Cathal. His sisters Roisin and Aislinn are in also in a culturally safe place.

The “famine Song” is only the most recent manifestation of Scotland’s oldest racism. It is also the racism that is tolerated by the leaders of Scottish society.

Although Rangers FC are currently subject of a probation order from UEFA for “discriminatory chanting” at UEFA controlled games the club will escape any sanction from the Scottish soccer authorities for their domestic outpourings of racism towards the Irish community in Scotland.

Moreover the Scottish media tend to turn a blind eye to the racism that is all around them.

The Famine is indeed over, although we Irish here in Ireland and in the global Irish Diaspora continue to deal with the demographic and psychological aftermath.

I did come home and it is sad that, in a very fundamental way, the city of my birth will never be home while these racists enjoy official tolerance.

A week or so after the derby match in Glasgow I was contacted by a source inside the foreign affairs department that the Irish embassy in London had received many complaints following on from the soccer match in Glasgow in August.

From my time with the Irish post in London I knew a few people I could call in the embassy.

I found out that the appropriate minister in the Scottish government didn’t know of the existence of the Famine song, never mind the import of this racist ditty.

The Irish consulate in Edinburgh did bring up the issue of the Famine song with the Scottish government.

I dipped into the Scottish soccer debate around the “Famine Song” by giving an interview to Ewen Cameron of Real Radio on the 16th September 2008.

The very mild intervention of the Irish Consulate caused some embarrassment to a sporting establishment who had sought to deal with the Famine song “in house”.

This non-confrontational approach had seen the Rangers songbook not advance an inch towards the enlightenment in decades.

It took a Panorama programme in 2005 and UEFA sanctions in 2006 for  “discriminatory chanting” to make the singing of the original Rangers’ battle hymn “The Billy Boys” a banned substance inside Ibrox Park.

Although it is heard regularly wherever the rougher end of the Rangers support is found it is not heard inside Ibrox.


The Famine song was penned within the last twelve months.

It was a replacement for the “Billy Boys”.

Although marching “up to our knees in fenian blood” is no longer publicly acceptable (or legal) the need to bait and taunt those of Irish descent is still a deep-seated need probably best dealt with by a psychotherapist.

After this particular news cycle we know this much.

The Famine song-sung publicly in a soccer stadium in Scotland is likely to lead to the singers arrest for a “racial breach of the peace”.


Here in Donegal it isn’t a crime to be Irish anymore. My children are citizens of a republic and in times to come one of them may even be elected president.

That is why, when I hear the laughter of my children outside in the garden, I know that their mother and I acted in their best interests when they were too young to know that they were the objects of hatred of so many where they were born.

Their laughter is the best antidote to the hatred and bile that created the Famine song.



2010 President Palin

The year is 2010. Two years from now. President John McCain finally loses his battle against cancer. There is a ceremony as laid down by the founding fathers. The office of the presidency of the United States of America transfers from President McCain (deceased) to President Palin.

President Palin…………..

From that moment there is an extra person in Sarah Palin’s security entourage.

There is a military officer with the attaché case as beloved of spy movies handcuffed to his wrist. This person is a commissioned officer in the U.S. military, pay-grade O-4 or above, who has undergone the nation’s most rigorous background check (Yankee White). This briefcase is codenamed “The football”. The contents of this briefcase in the wrong hands could end all human life on the planet.

The “wrong hands” is a US President who believes that we are in “the end of days”.

A President who believes that dinosaurs roamed the earth four thousand years ago.

It is correct that the officer entrusted with this world-ending piece of equipment has been thoroughly checked out.

Unfortunately President Palin the person who has the command authority to launch the ICBMs and initiate a nuclear winter wasn’t checked out at all by John McCain and his campaign team.

This is not the behaviour of a grown up culture. Nor is it the behaviour of a polity that has a long-term future.

A standard refrain from the  “the women’s movement” in the 1970s was that war was something that only men did .The implication was that men enjoyed going to war and women, because of their nurturing life giving role in human procreation , were the planet’s pacifists.

Like all insane ideologies feminism denies the subtlety of the human condition. All of us know aggressive warlike women and equally we know men who abhor confrontation.

Historically ,because of the physical demands of warfare, it was men who had to heft the sword and shoulder the pike.

All President Palin has to do is speak some words while peering into a retinal scanning device to play her own part in “ the end of days”.

When she was put on the Republican ticket two weeks ago an incriminating piece of video emerged on You Tube.

She was speaking to a “graduation class” in her church “the assembly of god” in her hometown of Wasilla Alaska.

Not only did she say that the invasion of Iraq was  “part of god’s plan” she believed that Alaska would be a sanctuary for the saved as the end of the world-as foretold in the Book of revelation- neared.

Palin is, of course, on the republican ticket to attract Hillary Clinton PUMA voters.

Party Unity My Ass voters maybe the final kick of a dying feminist animal in America. That a woman ,ANY woman, will do.

Even THAT woman will do.

Is that the legacy of feminism?

2010 the end of days?