Roll of Dishonour – Celtic’s Shame

This week, an affiliation of Celtic Football Club Supporter Groups has launched a campaign to promote a song, 'Roll of Honour', as part of their wish to essentially be allowed to behave in any way they see fit. The campaign has been launched by the disingenuously named Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC) – a group which comprises only Celtic fan groups. FAC actually contains all the main, official Celtic Supporter Groups (Celtic Supporters' Association, Celtic Trust, Affiliation of Registered CSCs and Association of Irish CSCs) and the Green Brigade ‘Ultras’ group.

'Roll of Honour', for those of you not aware, is a song which eulogises Irish Republican terrorists. Every single person celebrated in the song was convicted of terrorist offences and was either a member of the Provisional IRA or the INLA. Just so that there is no romanticism attempted by those who will be outraged by this article, let me detail each one.

Bobby Sands – Active Provisional IRA member. Convicted of possession of firearms and of possession of a gun used to fire at RUC officers after the Balmoral Furniture Company bombing in Dunmurry. He’s described in the song as “gallant”.

Francis Hughes – Active Provisional IRA member. Hughes was tried for, and found guilty of, the murder of one British Army soldier (for which he received a life sentence) and wounding of another (for which he received 14 years) in the incident which led to his capture, as well as a series of gun and bomb attacks over a six-year period.

Raymond McCreesh - Active Provisional IRA member. Convicted and sentenced to fourteen years in prison for attempted murder and possession of a rifle and ammunition.

Patsy O’Hara – Active INLA member and convicted of possessing a hand grenade.

Joe McDonnell - Active Provisional IRA member. Convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison for possession of a firearm.

Martin Hurson – Active Provisional IRA member.Convicted of involvement in three IRA landmine incidents where several members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Defence Regiment narrowly escaped being killed.

Kevin Lynch – Active INLA member. Convicted and sentenced to ten years for stealing shotguns, taking part in a punishment shooting and conspiring to take arms from the security forces.

Kieran Doherty – Active Provisional IRA Member. Convicted and sentenced to 18 years for possession of firearms and explosives after being caught on his way to set a bomb.

Thomas McElwee – Active Provisional IRA member. Sentenced to 20 years prison for possession of explosives and the murder of 26-year-old Yvonne Dunlop, who was burnt alive when one of his firebombs destroyed her clothes shop.

Michael Devine – Founder member of the INLA. Convicted of firearms offences.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are the heroes of the Official Celtic Supporter Groups and described in the song as "Ireland's bravest men". The same people that sit around a table with Peter Lawwell and other Celtic officials are promoting a song which celebrates the actions of terrorists.

We can debate the Offensive Behaviour Bill all day long. Personally I think it’s a shambolic piece of legislation which was badly thought out and the implementation of which has been ridiculous. However, FAC couldn’t care less about the bill. What they want is to be able to sing about how wonderful terrorists are whilst stopping any sort of expression which opposes them. They are a political group. Jeanette Findlay, an active participant in FAC, and who is inexplicably allowed to hold a position at Glasgow University, is on record over her IRA sympathies. The same woman who the other day threatened to report someone on Twitter to the police for calling her unpleasant names is trying to pretend she encourages freedom of speech. In fact she only encourages it when people are saying things she likes.

FAC is a sham. It’s a group of hardline Celtic supporters who back Irish Republican terrorism and are somehow aghast that a bill they encouraged, with their mock offence over anything they didn’t like, is now being applied to them. They actively want it to apply to everyone else and, in fact, are the very people who brought it about.

However, the worst part of the story is not the actions of this hardline group of pro-terror militants, but that enough Celtic supporters have bought the song that is has entered the UK Singles Update chart at No. 24. It looks almost certain that it will chart in the Top 40 Singles chart on Sunday. Clearly, years of Celtic as a club condoning and encouraging the militants in their support, through their assistance in setting up the Green Brigade, has now led to a situation where swathes of their fan base think that the glorification of terrorism is the norm. Where they think it is a good idea for their club to be associated with a pro IRA song in the UK charts. The delusion is spectacular.

They are helped in this regard by the Scottish press who appear terrified to properly highlight the issue. The Green Brigade only started getting negative publicity when they became a problem for Lawwell. Before that, they had been praised by the club, their manager and countless fawning journalists, despite their repertoire always having being mainly based around the signing of pro IRA songs.

Jeanette Findlay, with her usual class, took to Twitter to celebrate the news that Celtic fans had downloaded the track in numbers high enough to see it enter the Update Chart.

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It must be great to be so secure in your bitterness and hatred that you feel it is appropriate to take to social media and make a quip about terrorists who murdered people simply because they were British. Her play on the word “provisional” is just another in a long line of crass and frankly disgusting comments by Findlay. Glasgow University should be absolutely ashamed to employ her. Of course they do so safe in the knowledge that her comments and actions will be excused in Scotland.

I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen in England, if supporters of a team with strong Muslim roots decided to promote a song calling Al-Qaeda terrorists “the bravest of the brave”, “gallant” and celebrating the murder of innocent people. They would rightly be hounded by the press and disowned utterly by their football club. In Scotland they are excused, tolerated and encouraged.

Several MSPs have publicly supported FAC. Michael McMahon MSP spoke at their rally in George Square. Siobhan McMahon MSP invited them to Holyroood. Did these MSPs know that they were supporting a group who eulogise violent terrorists? Do they condone the acts of the Provisional IRA? The Rangers Standard has contacted them both and we await their replies.

Celtic have a real problem here. Their official supporter groups have banded together to publicly promote a song supporting acts of terrorism. What does it say about the Celtic support as a whole when ALL their official groups want to express their Irish roots through the promotion of acts of murder and terror? There are many decent Celtic fans who would not support this I’m sure, but who is speaking for them? Their club certainly aren’t. Their silence has been deafening. Their fan reps aren’t – they support it. When will a voice emerge from Celtic and condemn this?

In any other country, journalists would be breaking down the door at Celtic for comment. This would be front page news. The MSPs who supported it would be under pressure to distance themselves from an out of control group of crackpots. Yet there has not been a single story. I’m told that some tabloid journalists who were aware of it did not want to give it publicity. If that is genuinely the case then that horse has bolted. There is no excuse now that it has been backed by enough Celtic fans to get it into the UK charts. Hopefully the English press will also pick up on it as I suspect their disdain for the actions of FAC will not be tempered by the promise of the next scrap that Lawwell might throw them from his table.

Celtic fans have been a disgrace in the past couple of years. Riots in Amsterdam and Dundee included attacks on police officers and several convictions. Illegal marches in Glasgow lead to numerous arrests. UEFA have had to take action over various infringements. Their reputation has arguably never been worse. If they want to continue backing this type of initiative then it’s not going to get better. Decent Celtic fans need to stand up quickly or the assumption is going to remain that by their silence and by their club’s silence, they condone the pro terrorist sentiments of those who run their official supporter groups and who bring further shame on their club. The Roll of Dishonour at Celtic keeps on growing.