Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Neil Lennon's QC warns Celtic fans over sectarian and racist behaviour

Leading QC Paul McBride has sparked controversy by warning Celtic supporters that any songs or chants referring to h**s will no longer be accepted.
The Scottish Parliament are drafting up fresh legislation which is aimed at curbing offensive behaviour inside football grounds after seeing anti-sectarian legislation virtually ignored.
Bringing ‘offensive’ terms into play will certainly provide some interesting test cases with many football chants by definition offensive. Supporters of Aberdeen, Dundee United and other clubs often refer to Rangers as h**s but according to the QC those days are almost over.
The knock on effect of that viewpoint could spell the end of chants such as ‘In your Glasgow slum’ a favoured taunt at Celtic and Rangers fans and also kill off sheep related chants aimed at Aberdeen supporters.
McBride shot to fame in footballing circles when he took on the SFA last season defending Neil Lennon and forcing outgoing President George Peat into a humiliating climbdown as an independent inquiry chaired by Lord Carloway described Peat’s role as ‘contrary to the principles of fair play’.
Not long afterwards he found himself a target for extremists as he was sent a ‘viable device’ in the post at the same time as Neil Lennon.
The new legislation won’t provide a list of banned songs and chants but McBride is in no doubt that any references to huns will no longer be tolerated.
Speaking to the latest Celtic Underground podcast he explained: “All the talk in parliament about what is a reasonable person or what is offensive behaviour is all puff and smoke- we all know what is offensive.
“I think that using the expression h**n is now offensive. I don’t think that we’ll be seeing at Parkhead next season signs saying ‘No H**s in Europe’ or ‘H**s get out of here’. We have to accept that if we are going to have one side behaving in a certain way we have to make sure that our own side, the Celtic family, don’t act in an unacceptable way.
“That’s not taking the fun out of the game, you’ll never take swearing out of football, you’ll probably get abuse and all the rest of it but we can’t have people throwing bananas on the pitch, we can’t have people abusing black players, we can’t have people being called h**s, we can’t have people being called orange b’s.
“Those days have to go in the same way that we want the Rangers family not to sing The Famine Song, we don’t want them to sing ‘up to our knees in fenian blood’.
“We have to look at our own side as well, we can still enjoy ourselves at Parkhead without singing about the IRA, without singing about huns go home and without singing about orange b’s- I don’t think any of that behaviour is unacceptable and it has to apply across the board or we’ll never get rid of it.
“When the term (h*n) is used it’s designed to cause offense. You can have rivalry without being blatantly offensive.”
McBride’s views are bound to spark plenty of controversy with the QC very clear in his views that any songs relating to the IRA must end despite the British Queen’s decision to lay a wreath at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance during a visit to Ireland.
He added: “99% of people at Parkhead will have nothing to fear, I don’t think that there is a particular problem at Parkhead in any event. I’m not happy with some parts of the crowd, a very small part, singing songs about the IRA.
“We’ve got the Green Brigade, who I think are very entertaining, I think that they add something to Parkhead- sometimes the games are so dire they are the only thing entertaining as the bounce up and down and sing songs!
“I’m not that happy about them singing about the IRA. Why are they singing about the IRA in the context of a football game? This culture has got to change, we can go along to games, yes we can shout abuse at the other side, yes we can have fun but there is a line over which we should not be crossing. I think that we all know where that line is.”
CLICK HERE for the Paul McBride podcast in full from Celtic Underground
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