Thursday, October 6, 2011

Police launch new sectarian singing probe

Published on 5 Oct 2011

POLICE have launched an investigation into the singing of sectarian songs at the SPL game between Hearts and Celtic at the weekend.
Officers have begun a post-match investigation after receiving complaints away fans sung pro-IRA songs during the side’s 2-0 defeat at Tynecastle Stadium. It is understood the police are also looking into the singing of anti-Catholic songs by Hearts fans.
Police have confirmed one fan was arrested and charged with breach of the peace “with a sectarian aggravator” at Sunday’s match, which was shown live on Sky Sports.
Songs reported to have been sung by Celtic fans included Ooh Ah Up The Ra, said to be a pro-IRA song, The Boys of the Old Brigade, which celebrates the role of the 1920s IRA in the Irish War of Independence, and Roll of Honour, an Irish rebel song that commemorates the participants in the 1981 Irish hunger strike.
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: “We are investigating complaints about the singing of sectarian songs and there is a post-match investigation under way. Anyone who is found during these inquiries to be committing an offence will be brought to justice.”
The new probe was compared by the police to that carried out when trouble flared at the Hiber-nian v Sunderland pre-season friendly in August. As of last week, 12 men have been arrested and charged with breach of the peace, some of which were aggravated by religious prejudice.
Sunday’s game was expected to lead to high tensions as it was the first since Celtic manager Neil Lennon was confronted by Hearts fan John Wilson on the touchline in May.
Mr Wilson, an unemployed labourer, was jailed for eight months after being found guilty of a breach of the peace at the game in May, although there was uproar over a not proven verdict returned by the jury at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on a charge of assault aggravated by religious prejudice.
Safety measures introduced for Sunday’s match included “clear zones” between the two sets of fans and police and stewards around the dugouts.
Security guards escorted Lennon closely in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the scenes.
While there was no sign at the match of Wilson, who was banned from Tynecastle for life after charging at Lennon, the Celtic manager was taunted by some Hearts fans who wore face masks of Wilson.
There were also reports schoolboy football team Livingston Hearts were subjected to abuse from Celtic fans when they took to the field at Tynecastle.
Scores of supporters were seen making obscene gestures at the youngsters as they jogged past on a lap of honour during the half time interval.
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