There has been strong criticism of an official British Army event in which soldiers were filmed clapping and dancing to loyalist tunes at Ibrox Park football stadium in Glasgow.
Dozens of soldiers in full uniform joined in with fans of Rangers football club at an ‘Armed Forces Day’ held by the club on Saturday.
Although the official armed forces celebration day takes place in June, Rangers and the British military establishment hold their own version during the football season.
Up to 400 members of Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines took part in the event during the Glasgow club’s league game against Stenhousemuir, which culminated with soldiers joining in with sectarian chanting by the fans.
Video footage shows a pipe band marching in the background around Ibrox as soldiers and Rangers supporters sang the loyalist anthem ‘Derry’s Walls’ and chants mocking the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Two appeared to make fascist salutes.
Soldiers also were seen ‘doing the Bouncy’, a dance which became popular with Rangers fans following the murder of Portadown Catholic Robert Hamill, who died after loyalists were said to have ‘bounced on his head’ in a mob attack.
Two Scottish media reports about the events made no reference to the soldiers’ sectarian displays.
A Scottish TV report mentioned that an army band “entertained fans” and quoted Major General Nick Eeles, the British Army’s ‘General Officer Commanding’ in Scotland, as saying it was hoped to make it into an annual event.
But left-wing MP George Galloway described the event as “fascistic” and said he would be raising the matter in the Westminster parliament.
While some media commentators wondered why the incident went largely unreported over the weekend, others noted that displays of anti-Catholic hate by British forces are a familiar tradition in both Scotland and the north of Ireland.
Responding to the criticism, the British Ministry of Defence said they were looking into the matter -- but admitted that there were no plans to stop any future celebrations of ‘Armed Forces Day’ at Ibrox.