A ‘rebel song’ commemorating 10 republican PoWs who died in the 1981 Hunger Strike reached number 24 in the British singles’ charts this week.
The ‘Roll of Honour’ ascended the chart after Celtic supporters in Scotland launched a campaign to prove the song is legal and inoffensive.
The move came after Scottish authorities outlawed the singing it and other Irish ‘rebel songs’ at Scottish football grounds under special new legislation.
The campaign has been organised by a Celtic supporters’ umbrella group, Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC), which has been given permission to release the song by folk band, The Irish Brigade.
Originally penned in the 1980s, the song pays tribute to 10 IRA and INLA Volunteers who died during the 1981 hunger strike.
A number of people have been convicted for singing the song at Scottish football grounds, while several are currently awaiting trial. Last April a Celtic fan was cleared of inciting public disorder by a Scottish court after he was found singing the song at a football game in Dundee.
Irish rebel songs have been sung by a section of the Celtic support for many decades.
A spokeswoman for FAC defended the download campaign.
“The campaign is not about encouraging people to sing the song, it’s about saying this song should not be a criminal offence to sing,” she said.
“It’s not a criminal offence unless you are a football fan.
“The Offensive Behaviour At Football Act is a bad law which attempts to restrict freedom of expression and that is wrong.”
The Irish Brigade said the song was written in 1982 at a time of great social and political upheaval in the North of Ireland.
“It was to commemorate the sacrifice of ten young men who died in the Hunger Strike of 1981. They, too, were protesting against criminalisation.
“The song was a reflection of the thoughts, feelings and beliefs, held by many in Ireland and throughout the world who felt that these deaths could have been avoided if the British government at that time had not taken such a harsh and unbending attitude towards the prison crisis.”
While one lyric reads: “England you’re a monster, don’t think that you won, we will never be defeated while Ireland has such sons”, the Irish Brigade denied the song was anti-English or sectarian.
“It is an historic, social commentary about one stage in a long freedom struggle that is still continuing but that now uses democratic paths and institutions that did not exist in the early 80s.”
But unionist MP Gregory Campbell wanted the song to be banned.
He said there was a duty for the BBC as a public service broadcaster not to broadcast material “promoting terror”.
“Exactly the same principles should apply to this as would if it were al-Qaida, Basque separatists or any of the other Middle-Eastern terrorist groups,” he said.