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Celtic's Reid condemns Famine Song

Celtic chairman John Reid
Reid says Celtic will not tolerate offensive songs by their own fans

Celtic chairman John Reid has condemned as racist one of the songs chanted by fans of Glasgow rivals Rangers at the recent Old Firm derby.

The Famine Song refers to events that killed an estimated one million people in the 1840s and led to a mass migration from Ireland.

"We should condemn racism and sectarianism without fear or favour wherever they arise," said Reid.

"That is an essential part of Celtic Football Club's ethos."

Reid has written to Celtic fans about the controversy that erupted after Rangers' 4-2 victory on 31 August.

The Ibrox club have since asked their fans to refrain from singing the song, which includes the line: "The famine's over, why don't you go home."

But we are not complacent. I would again condemn, without equivocation, the use of any chants or songs which can be interpreted as support for religious or ethnic hatred, or for acts of violence

Celtic chairman John Reid

Rangers also sought guidance from Strathclyde Police on the matter with a view to making singing the song an arrestable offence, although the Rangers Supporters Trust defended the chant, saying it was not racist, and no worse than any other football song.

And former Northern Ireland Secretary Reid said: "As both Rangers Football Club and Strathclyde Police have stated, the content of the song - which is directed against the community of Irish descent in Scotland - is in breach of Race Relations legislation and exposes its perpetrators to the risk of prosecution.

"The Irish Famine was a human tragedy of immense proportions. It is one of the few such events for which the British Government has expressed specific regret for its share of responsibility.

"Few of those who sing this song will have stopped to think that famine is non-sectarian and the millions of people who died or were forced into mass emigration - some of them to Scotland - were from all faiths and traditions within Ireland."

Reid also warned he would not tolerate offensive chanting by his own club's supporters.

"Celtic supporters have received well-earned international plaudits in recent years for the way in which they conduct themselves at home and abroad," he said.

"But we are not complacent. I would again condemn, without equivocation, the use of any chants or songs which can be interpreted as support for religious or ethnic hatred, or for acts of violence.

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"The assistance of true Celtic supporters in weeding out the minority who persist in that behaviour, usually at away games, is greatly appreciated and results in stringent action."

The aftermath of the 31 August derby saw Irish diplomats raise concerns with the Scottish government over Rangers fans' chanting.

It is understood a Celtic supporter complained to the Irish Embassy in London, with the matter referred to the Irish Consul in Edinburgh.

That was followed by the Northern Ireland sports minister saying he was unlikely to accept an invitation to Celtic Park after pro-IRA chanting by fans of Reid's club.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell wrote to Reid, complaining about songs sung by Celtic fans during their 13 September game away to Motherwell.

In his letter, which he penned in his capacity as MP and not sports minister, he demanded the club take more action.


see also
DUP MP in Celtic IRA song protest
19 Sep 08 |  Northern Ireland
Bain responds to 'Famine song'
16 Sep 08 |  Scottish Premier
Concerns raised over famine song
15 Sep 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West


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