A chorus of denunciation has appeared in the mainstream Scottish media against University of Glasgow lecturer Dr Jeanette Findlay for defending soccer fans who sing Irish rebel songs.
Ms Findlay - chairwoman of the trust which represents small shareholders in of Glasgow Celtic football club - said the songs were “from a war of independence” had “a historical basis for a club founded to help the poor Irish immigrants to Scotland”.
Unionist politicians raised a fuss over the remarks, with DUP MP Gregory Campbell describing the comments as “an appalling reference to what can only be (seen) as a glorification of terror, that is what these songs are about”.
In a surprise move, the club distanced itself from the comments, saying they were “totally unrepresentative of the Celtic support”. That move angered some supporters’ groups in Ireland and Scotland, while others issued critical statements opposing what they described as “sectarianism”.
Republican Sinn Féin criticised what it said was an artificial controversy.
“Our songs of freedom carry a message not of bigotry or hate, but of survival, of a fight for freedom against tyranny and genocide and against bigoted legislators and despotic governments,” said Seamus Reader, of RSF Scotland.
“This latest attack on our songs is morally wrong and is really just a cosmetic exercise to appease the bigots in Scottish society who would prefer that the Irish community in Scotland did not exist at all.
‘We trust that these same detractors would not wish to suggest that it is bigoted to sing songs like Flower of Scotland, Scots Wa Hae or the many other patriotic songs that depict the heroic struggles of Wallace and Bruce against English colonial oppression.
“Are these not ‘rebel’ songs as well? Or are they only offensive when they are Irish?”