Anti-racism charities in Scotland have condemned the police there for not intervening while a group of over 100 soccer fans marched through Glasgow city centre singing the anti-Irish tune ‘The Famine Is Over, Why Don’t You Go Home’.
Prominent human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar condemned Police Scotland for “facilitating (again) a racist anti-Irish march”.
“If they replaced Irish with Pakistani/Muslim police would act, so why not now?” he asked.
While sectarianism has been in decline in the north of Ireland, anti-Catholic and anti-Irish hate has become an increasingly serious issue in Scotland.
Ahead of a soccer match against Glasgow Celtic FC, which has historic links to the Irish immigrants, a group of Rangers FC fans dressed in black were recorded singing the tune which is effectively banned in the north of Ireland.
The song refers to Ireland’s Great Hunger of the 1840s, when enforced food exports to Britain caused a famine which led to the death of a million Irish people and the emigration from Ireland of another million, many to Scotland.
Several groups have condemned Rangers FC for failing to tackle the problem of anti-Irish racism among its supporters and staff.
Earlier this year, a video emerged in which a group of Rangers players and others were heard to be singing ‘Fuck the Pope’. The police controversially failed to get involved.
However, the force has finally been stung into action by the latest display, arresting eight of those involved.
The police said they are also investigating hate-filled tweets sent from accounts held by members of Rangers’ official media partner. Three organisers have made references to “tarriers”, “papes”, “Romanists”, “bead rattlers” and “beggars”, in reference to those with Irish or Catholic backgrounds.
‘Call It Out’, which campaigns against anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism in Scotland, called on the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council to take action and to “start by recognising our community”.
The group tweeted: “This is the kind of racism you don’t notice – day after day, week after week, year after year, decade after decade. When are you going to call it out?”
‘Show Racism The Red Card’, an anti-racism education organisation, said: “Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic hatred in all its forms must be challenged and treated with the seriousness it deserves.”
‘Nil By Mouth’, which campaigns against sectarianism in Scotland, said: “This was no display of passion for a football team or celebration of culture but a display of hatred and ignorance....Actions must have consequences.”
The scenes also came under fire from former Scottish government justice secretary and current health secretary Humza Yousaf.
He said: “For those hurling racist abuse at our Irish community telling them to “go home” - Scotland is their home.
“Disgusted to once again see anti-Irish racism rear its ugly head. Solidarity with our Irish community.”