Page last updated at 18:21 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 19:21 UK

DUP MP in Celtic IRA song protest

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Gregory Campbell explains why he feels the time is not right for him to go to Parkhead

Northern Ireland's sports minister has written to Celtic chairman and ex-NI Secretary John Reid in protest at pro-IRA songs sung at a game last week.

Rangers fan Gregory Campbell wrote the letter in his capacity as a DUP MP.

Mr Campbell said he felt Rangers had moved against sectarian chanting following a recent Old Firm game and he called on Celtic to follow suit.

He said that in his letter he had praised both clubs for their efforts in tackling sectarianism.

A Celtic spokesman said: "We are pleased that Mr Campbell recognises the great work which Celtic has carried out in tackling sectarianism."

He said the club had received details of the chanting incidents from Mr Campbell.

If I had gone to a game where a small minority were to engage in IRA chants, would that have been advantageous to Celtic?

Gregory Campbell

"It will certainly be considered along with a number of other representations we have received in relation to racist and sectarian chanting from supporters of other clubs," he added.

Earlier this week, Irish diplomats raised their concerns with the Scottish government over Rangers fans chanting a controversial song about the Irish potato famine.

Rangers chief executive Martin Bain reiterated the club's commitment to combat racist behaviour, while also expressing frustration that its supporters were being singled out while similar chants by fans at other clubs escaped censure.

Mr Campbell said complaints he received from constituents prompted him to complain to Mr Reid about IRA songs sung by Celtic fans at a game against Motherwell last week.

Last year, the club invited Mr Campbell to watch a Celtic home match after he and his wife were subjected to sectarian abuse on a ferry crossing to Scotland.

However, Mr Campbell told the BBC on Friday he felt that, given recent events, the time was not yet right for him to go to Parkhead.

"I just haven't had time to go, but if I had gone to a game where a small minority were to engage in IRA chants, would that have been advantageous to Celtic?

"The club would be saying to me, 'you came to the wrong game Mr Campbell', so I think it is better for me not to go rather than to bring back a very bad report."

Bain responds to 'Famine song'
16 Sep 08 |  Scot Prem
Concerns raised over famine song
15 Sep 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Clubs unite to kick out bigotry
20 Nov 07 |  Scotland

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