Anti-Irish racism must be tackled once and for all


THE failure of Scottish political leaders and authorities in dealing with anti-Irish racism has been identified as the cause of symptoms such as the throng of Rangers supporters chanting the ‘Famine Song’ in Glasgow City Centre.

The group were filmed chanting under the watch of officers from Police Scotland (above) ahead of the recent derby match in the city, with the resultant investigation leading to three arrests, of men aged 19, 21 and 24, so far.

Police Scotland have confirmed that the investigations will continue and more arrests are expected, while pressure on Rangers to deal with recent incidents of racism has resulted in the club pledging to ban those responsible from Ibrox Stadium.

“We have made the first of what I expect to be numerous arrests following the disgraceful racial conduct shown by a minority of Rangers supporters who were making their way to Ibrox stadium on Sunday August 29,” said Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland, divisional commander for Greater Glasgow Police Division.

“Three men, aged 24, 21 and 19, were arrested and charged last night, Wednesday September 1, in connection with racially aggravated offences towards a member of the public and for the singing of racist material.

“We will continue to work with Rangers FC to identify and take appropriate action against those responsible.”

Calling it out
While the incident—as well as a renewed focus on the role of Orange Order parades—has highlighted the need for those campaigning against such behaviour to continue and strengthen their efforts, campaign group Call It Out gave a reminder that these are merely symptoms of a lack of political will in dealing with anti-Irish and anti-Catholic hate.

“While it is true that there has been an upsurge recently, racist and bigoted incidents like this are not the most important issue,” a Call It Out spokesperson told The Irish Voice. “They are symptoms of a failure of political leadership. If the issue of anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic behaviour is properly addressed then these
incidents will fade away.

“Far more targeted and sinister are approaches such as that by the Rangers Reviews, part of the Newsquest group, and their very thinly veiled attack on those prominent individuals and campaigners who condemn anti-Irish racism. Institutions like the press have a responsibility to take this seriously rather than indulging this type of discourse.

“With the death threats aimed at councillors in West Dunbartonshire for opposing anti-Catholic marches it is clear what the reaction can often be, but political leaders must lead and take on the responsibility to address this issue. Charging a few working class young men for their part in such unacceptable behaviour alone isn’t going to solve this problem.”

As they seek to continue their efforts, the group have called a public meeting on September 6, and have written to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. They will also seek a meeting with Police Scotland Chief Constable Ian Livingston.

“A number of Irish community groups including Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, Conradh na Gaeilge Glaschú, Irish Diaspora in Scotland Association, Scotland GAA and a representative of the Irish Gypsy Traveller community, as well as Call it Out, are writing to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to request a meeting on what the Scottish Government intends to do about anti Irish racism as part of Scotlands Race Equality Action Plan 2021-25,” they explained. “In addition we have requested a meeting with Chief Constable Ian Livingstone on the separate issue of policing anti Irish racism.”

Political voices
Among those political figures who have led calls for action against the upsurge in such racist behaviour are Labour’s Paul Sweeney MSP and James Dornan MSP of the SNP.

Mr Sweeney wrote to Chief Superintendent Mark Sutherland in the days following the incident in Glasgow, requesting a written update on the approach of Police Scotland in policing the group and suggesting a meeting with the Chief Superintendent.

“We have a duty to ensure that every single member of our communities feels safe in this city, regardless of race, religion or creed,” he wrote. “I can assure you that I will do everything in my power to ensure that is the case, and I trust Police Scotland share that desire.”

Mr Dornan, meanwhile, wrote to Rangers FC asking what consequences those who could be identified would face from the club, referring to an earlier racist incident after which individual Rangers supporters and a supporters club face sanctions from the club following the racial abuse of Celtic’s Japanese player Kyogo Furuhashi.

“I would… like to commend you for the immediate action taken in suspending two supporters and the Supporters’ Bus after the recent incident therein.

“I would like to be granted some assurance that, if the people who can be clearly seen in this latest video are identified, that similar consequences will be directed at them.

“I would also like to know if the members of this mob all belong to the same supporters’ group, or indeed a small number of supporters’ groups, that these groups will also be subject to disciplinary measures from the club.”

He later stated that the response he received is a sign that if this is how the club ‘treat the issue of their fans singing racist and banned songs then unfortunately Rangers still have some way to go.’