Make it short, make it snappy…. and make it up!

Answering the lies of G40 on The Celtic Network.

http://www.g40celticchat.co.uk/?p=1250

I suppose the first thing I should do is to thank G40 of The Celtic Network (TCN) for writing such an ill-informed and inaccurate piece that masquerades as a ‘review’ of TAL’s latest Ezine edition.

The blog (see link) is little more than a deliberate misrepresentation of what was written in the TAL Ezine edition, but I welcome the opportunity to answer it. I would also encourage other supporters to go to our website and download the Ezine and read it for yourselves, because TCN’s ‘review’ is nothing more than a hatchet job, full of lies and deliberate falsehoods. Indeed one wonders whether the author of the blog actually bothered to read the Ezine, because his estimation of its contents are not based on reality.

Some people have little in the way of political answers, so they try to personalise the argument and the above blog is a perfect example of the personalisation of the political.

Our criticism of both Phil MacGiollabhain and Paul McBride is political not personal, but G40 and TCN prefer to interpret it differently and by his own admission G40 makes ‘assumptions’ based on his own prejudice against TAL and/or the prejudice and lies of others. Put simply, TAL Fanzine does not agree with the interpretation of the new anti-sectarian legislation by the ‘Two Macs’ – MacGiollabhain and McBride. Our view of the legislation was well-presented in the Ezine by Rebel Bhoy’s article entitled OURSELVES ALONE. (download from www.talfanzine.com)

The writer talks about TAL going into ‘the realms of fantasy’ and then goes on to claim that we specifically criticised Phil MacG because he wrote a piece on the Famine Memorial for the Celtic match programme. This is a lie, a complete fiction. There is no mention of such an article by MacGiollabhain anywhere in the Ezine. Did the author of this blog actually read the Ezine or did he base his comments on hearsay? The ‘realms of fantasy’ appear to be where the blog author was writing from.

Words are being twisted and not very cleverly. The real ‘conformists’ – those who would comply with this bad legislation – are the so-called ‘rebels’ who have INSTRUCTED the Celtic support to refrain from singing certain songs. Those who attempt to use their republican credentials to browbeat others into submission. We reserve the right to criticise that type of political hypocrisy.

Incidentally, TAL was never happy to simply go along with MacGiollabhain’s egotistical brand of ‘journalism’, as G40’s article claims. Indeed, my own contribution to the latest Ezine questioned where Phil might be leading us and made the point that we have a history to be proud of that MacGiollabhain wants to edit and rewrite, leaving us as little more than ‘the other side of the sectarian coin’ to the Scotland’s Shame FC support. It is our view that Phil’s personal obsession with Scotland’s Shame FC is an unhealthy one for a grown man who claims to be both a ‘rebel’ and a ‘journalist’ . That he has led a section of our support with him in this obsession is shamefully self-indulgent.

http://www.spreaker.com/show/oaoradioshow

On the issue of the songs, I would urge readers to go to the Over and Over Radio show site on Spreaker.com and listen to the first hour of the show, where the songs issue and TAL’s criticisms of Mac Giolla Bhain and McBride are discussed. Rather than us living in the past, we are offering ways around and through the legislation. I made the point that mine is only one point of view and that I was certainly NOT telling people how they should behave or think, merely offering an ‘alternative view’ on the matter. It’s called democratic debate. Those who are issuing diktats on the matter are not from our fanzine.

For TCN to question our credentials as Celtic supporters is downright insulting. It is a dirty argument that really is beneath contempt. How dare TCN – a network that has been in existence for a matter of weeks – question our commitment to the club.

Incidentally, it is a complete fantasy – A LIE – that we have ever claimed that TCN is in the pay of the club. The blog is not just bad writing, it is utter tripe based on no evidence whatsoever from the Ezine or our website. It is a deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of our views.

Looking through it again, the blog really is quite nasty in its intent and some specific points need to be addressed:

“…petty personal attacks against Paul McBride QC and especially Phil Mac Giolla Bhain.”

– WHAT IS PETTY OR PERSONAL ABOUT GIVING AN ALTERNATIVE POINT OF VIEW TO THEIRS?

“So because Paul McBride declared that the word Hun could be considered as offensive under these new laws when he was being interview on Celtic Underground TAL now consider him as a traitor. This is a guy who the same people where championing only months before for standing up for Celtic.”

– NOT TRUE, WE HAVE NEVER SUPPORTED McBRIDE, NOR IS OUR OBJECTION TO HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE LAW BASED ON THE WORD ‘HUN’.

“However that is nothing compared to the personal attack they carry out against Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. Again a guy they were happy to support when he was getting tore into the Scotland’s Shame FC support. This whole thing stems from the fact that Phil in his blog criticised some of the pro IRA songs at the Hibs game and then raised the issue of whether there is any need for these songs to be sung in Scottish football grounds considering the people in Ireland were trying to move on from the troubles.”

– PHIL IS AS ENTITLED TO HIS VIEW ON THIS AS WE ARE TO OURS. WHY DO THESE PEOPLE FEAR DEBATE ON THE MATTER? AFTER ALL, ISN’T THAT WHAT PHIL CLAIMED HE WAS STARTING – A DEBATE?

“Now this is where things move into the realms of fantasy. They then go on to slag Phil off for writing a piece for the Celtic match program about the need for a Famine memorial in Glasgow (Wolves friendly). Now I would have thought that these so called republicans would have welcomed this but they did not. Instead they seem to claim that he’s writing for the enemy which is strange considering it was a Celtic FC publication.”

– NOT ONE WORD OF THE ABOVE IS TRUE. NO QUOTES, NO REFERENCES, JUST LIES. IT’S A CUTE ATTEMPT TO QUESTION OUR COMMITMENT TO CELTIC BECAUSE WE CONTINUE TO CRITICISE THE CELTIC VIEW, WHICH IS THE OFFICIAL MOUTHPIECE OF THE PLC (WE DID NOT MENTION THE MATCH PROGRAMME OR THE FAMINE MEMORIAL ARTICLE, AS HAS BEEN CLAIMED).

“To top it all off they have a go at the fact that Phil Mac Tee shirts are being sold on Rhebel Rhebel so in effect they are also having a dig at that site. Anyone who is familiar with Rhebel Rhebel knows that they only produce products that the Celtic support are interested in buying. As a side note their T Shirts are brilliant so have a look on the site.”

– A CRUDE ATTEMPT TO BUILD AN ANTI-TAL ALLIANCE BY INFERRING THAT OUR CRITICISM OF THE EGOTISTICAL T-SHIRTS WAS AN ATTACK ON THE ‘RHEBEL RHEBEL’ T-SHIRT SITE. WE CRITICISED PHIL’S SELF-PROMOTION, NOTHING ELSE.

“So the questions are. What is TAL’s agenda? Are they a pro Celtic site or are they an organisation who wants to live in the past while the rest of the world move on? Is it their belief that your only a real Celtic fan if you support the now disbanded PIRA or you need to have pro republican views?”

– ANOTHER ATTEMPT TO IMPLY THAT WE ARE NOT ‘REAL CELTIC SUPPORTERS’.

“TAL claim to be anti fascist which is strange considering they seem to want every Celtic fan to conform to their view.”

SOMEONE WITHOUT A POLITICAL HISTORY BELITTLING AND BESMIRCHING THOSE AMONG OUR SUPPORTERS WHO HAVE A PROVEN TRACK RECORD IN FIGHTING FASCISM AND RACISM, AND COMPLETELY TWISTING THE IDEA OF ‘CONFORMISM’ IN THIS CONTEXT.

“By the way I’m happy to publish any responses from TAL and it’s supporters. I don’t believe in censorship. However I won’t publish personal abuse.”

– IMPLYING THAT OUR LIKELY RESPONSE WILL BE PERSONAL AND ABUSIVE. WITHOUT EVEN ONCE REFERRING TO, OR QUOTING FROM THE EZINE HE IS CRITICISING, HE CONCLUDES THAT WE ARE LIKELY TO BE ABUSIVE IN REPLY TO THIS NONSENSE. IS THIS MAN PSYCHIC?

“Foot note Contrary to what TAL believes TCN has nothing to do with Celtic fc if the club were paying me to work for them I think I might have noticed by now”

– NOW HE’S A MIND READER? THIS IS ANOTHER FANTASY. TAL HAS NEVER IMPLIED OR ACCUSED ANYONE ASSOCIATED WITH TCN OF BEING PAID BY CELTIC PLC.

I have no problem with G40 expressing a point of view that is different to TAL’s, but I do have a problem with someone who ascribes to TAL words that none of the contributors to the Ezine have ever uttered or written.

Stevie (Talman)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OURSELVES ALONE

Fighting The Legislation

By RebelBhoy

I suppose the first thing this writer should do is to offer sincere thanks to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. Without his blog (24th July 2011 see link 1) I would have been caught sleepwalking into falling foul of the proposed “anti-sectarian” legislation set to become law in early 2012 (Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill). Echoing the tones of the proposed legislation, Phil tells us that any ‘reasonable person’ would deem the singing of songs in praise of those who fought for Irish freedom as ‘offensive’. Of course Phil, in humble fashion, has already claimed the credit for opening our collective eyes in his follow up piece (28th July 2011 see link 2). Well that has certainly lifted the malaise with this ‘Tim’.

Fundamentally, I have a problem with the impending legislation. That being that its purported purpose is to combat sectarianism, yet has been drafted to include “offensive” behaviour. The net result of this, in this writer’s opinion, is to ensure that this legislation will be affected with equal vigour across both sides of the Glasgow divide, be it the offensive behaviour of calling a Rangers supporter a Hun, or the sectarian behaviour of chanting “No Pope of Rome”. Hey presto, under the “Anti-Sectarian” legislation, you have your proof; One side is as bad as the other.

Further to this, we have this “reasonable person” clause (Section 1(2)e). The concept of a reasonable person is an interesting one. Section 38 of the recently enacted Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 references a ‘reasonable person’, it also cites behaviour of a threatening and abusive manner. As far as I am aware, football stadia are not exempt from this piece of legislation, so why the need for further law making? For me, the answer lies in the need to tie ‘offensive’ behaviour, which football supporters across the world indulge in, to sectarianism.

The “Rebel Journalist” instructs us that it “would be a rather strange reasonable person who would conclude that songs and chants endorsing proscribed organisations that have killed British Nationals wasn’t offensive”. By the same token, it would be a rather strange reasonable person who would conclude that sporting the symbols of, and collecting money for the benefit of British soldiers who interred, maimed and killed members of our community wasn’t offensive. I don’t expect to see Messrs Lawwell and Reid facing the beak under this “Anti-Sectarian” Legislation. Ether everything gets judged on its respective merits, or this is nothing but a piece of selective legislation designed to de-politicise our support and silence the sectarian and racist behaviour of the supporters of Scotland’s Shame. Seeing as the “Rebel Journalist” is so willing to fall into line to help effect this legislation, we are left with absolutely no-one to fight our corner but ourselves.

I don’t doubt that Phil has conducted greater research into the implications of the impending legislation than I have. I did however have cause to listen to the recent Celtic underground podcast (No.145 – see link 3) with Paul McBride QC. It does not surprise me that McBride is in favour of the principles of this legislation. Nor did it surprise me that he skilfully evaded the question as to whether the singing of IRA songs was designed to cause offence. He was unequivocal about the use of the word Hun and chanting IRA, but anything but when it came to singing songs about the IRA. Sure, he rejected their association with Celtic, as I would expect him to and as he is entitled to, but he did not tell us that they were designed to offend. So why is Phil so sure that you and I could potentially fall foul of this new legislation?

Paul McBride told us that, “The Lord advocate said that this is not about people expressing robust, indeed offensive opinions sometimes” adding ”This is about people trying to cause trouble at games”. Over the last number of months TAL have held a number of ‘Green Room’ interviews with ‘rebel’ groups and singers. Without exception they have expressed the belief that the continued relevance of such songs amongst the Celtic support is to serve as a vehicle to promote learning about the struggle for Irish independence. Certainly a robust opinion that may be considered politically objectionable or ‘offensive’ by some, but absolutely not stated with the intention of causing offence.

McBride also told us that ”It depends on what you are doing, who you are doing it to, and why you are doing it”. The answer to these questions is a simple one for this writer. I am singing of those who fought for Irish freedom amongst fellow supporters of a club born of the Irish diaspora, whose founding fathers actively involved the club in the national question. A question that remains as valid today as it did then. I am doing it to celebrate their ideals and memory and to act as a conduit for learning about that struggle for both myself and my fellow supporters. That is the only answer I can give, for it happens to be the truth. Accepting Paul McBride’s assertion that context is important in the application of this legislation (an assertion that Phil has singularly failed to address in either of his blogs on the subject), this is the context within which I sing these songs. I won’t have Phil playing guessing games that it is borne out of “boozy self- indulgence”. No legislation, no ‘Rebel Journalist’ will define my motivation for me. It is certainly self indulgence (boozy or sober matters not a jot) to consider yourself the sole arbiter of the era of struggle that may or may not cause offence to people I have no intention of offending.

This legislation is coming, unless it can be derailed. It is dressed up nicely with a big fancy bow labelled “sectarianism”. Does anybody have the will to fight a bill with the purported aim of eliminating sectarianism? Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has given his interpretation on what the legislation means for “Rebel songs”. I am not sure things are necessarily as clear cut as he seems to think.

I am not interested in playing Republican ‘top trumps’ with Phil, my grandfather didn’t “fight the British army”, nor do I watch games with those who shared a wing with Bobby Sands. Perhaps my thoughts on the matter are not lent the same gravitas by this criteria, however I do support Celtic and I am a proud Irish Republican. I can come up with my own theories as to what Bobby Sands, the poet, songwriter and campaigner against the criminalisation of Irish Republicanism may have made of the singing of Irish Republican songs and the legislation that seeks to criminalise it. I willingly accept that “disrespectful” is not amongst the adjectives I would have chosen. I also wonder what Bik McFarlane makes of the inference that the songs he sings perhaps show a lack of respect, or does Bik delivering a ballad instruct me to sing also?

The struggle of 1798, 1916, 1981 and all points before or since hold an intrinsic and sustained value for me and many other others. The British state tried and failed to criminalise these people then, and if Phil is right, they are trying again to criminalise you and me, right now. Phil just makes their job that bit easier. So thanks again to the ‘Rebel Journalist’ for the heads up, I look forward to seeing more of the his work in the Celtic View and The Celtic Network (TCN) in the future.

RELATED LINKS

1/ The Celtic Away Support – by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

2/ The implications of the new legislation – by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

3/ Celtic Underground Podcast No.145 – Paul McBride QC * http://www.celticunderground.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=715:podcast-145-paul-mcbride-qc-talks-refereeing-sfa-reformation-and-anti-sectarian-legislation&catid=34:audio&Itemid=58

* Link leads to Celtic Underground website where you can find Podcast 145. Alternatively, copy and paste the above link into your browser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rebel Turns Conformist

The increased tension in Scottish football last season caused by the violent threats and  attacks on Celtic manager Neil Lennon has been the talking point of the year, with calls for the Scottish government to resolve the problem of ‘sectarianism’ (the real problem of anti-Irish racism is once again sidestepped).

The SFA as an organisation emerged from the season with the stench of corruption and bigotry around it. Played under unprecedented pressure, the SPL title race ended with a rangers victory and a gold watch for Sir Walter.

Despite success on the pitch,  unrest behind the scenes continued at Ibrox, amid rumoured rival takeover bids, massive debts and an as yet undisclosed tax bill and the possibility of large penalty costs incurred for alleged ‘tax avoidance’.

Much of the investigative work in uncovering the true nature of the finances at rangers was down to the dogged determination of internet journalist Phil Mc Giolla Bhain, utilising both his own contacts and those recommended to him by the supportive Celtic online community.

Phil’s star was on the rise, with a steady following building up on facebook, as well as a growing readership of his blog pages. He impressed further when he broke the Dallasgate drama online ahead of the Scottish press and largely in spite of their silence on the matter. His audacity in publishing, relying on gut instinct and the strength of his sources, he was mentioned in dispatches by none other than eminent media expert, Professor Roy Greenslade.

Previous to these scoops Phil had relentlessly pursued the Ibrox club’s fans over their fascist anthem ‘The Billy Boys’ and the anti-Irish ‘Famine Song’, both of which were deemed to be racist and offensive by UEFA and the Scottish courts.

With a growing reputation, he self-published his second book, “A Rebel Journalist”,  a collection of his online writings and published work, which was warmly welcomed by the Celtic fans and enthusiastically purchased online and at events such as the one Phil attended in Dublin courtesy of the Naomh Padraig CSC.

The rangers tax case also saw him develop a relationship with News International and he has publicly boasted of his contacts at the News of the World and more recently of ‘tip-offs’ to The Sun.

He has also written for Matt McGlone’s ‘Alternative View’ and, more recently, he has made it into the pages of the club’s official weekly magazine The Celtic View.

For a long period Phil has purported to represent the best interests of Celtic supporters and The Celtic Football Club. He has publicly championed the Irish heritage of the club and indeed he has celebrated the republican political culture of the fans for as long as anyone who knows him can remember. He had the support and confidence of the more politically aware supporters, as well as his fellow rangers obsessives, Father Phil’s congregation on the Timterweb.

More vain than bhain.

As the reputation has grown, so too has the ego. T-shirts with Phil’s face on and advertising his website appeared for sale. Along with this journey up his own arsehole, came an even more outspoken internet persona. Bemoaning an absence of ‘leadership’ from the club, Phil has apparently unilaterally decided that he should provide the necessary leadership. Seeking no counsel and taking advice from no-one, a nascent ‘Fuhrer Complex’ appears to be developing. Phil is no longer content to serve the Celtic support as a campaigning journalist, to champion the rights of Celtic fans. Mac Giolla Bhain has climbed the greasy pole all the way to the moral high ground of a free seat in the press box. From his ivory tower in the free seats and with all the bluff and bluster of an archetypal keyboard warrior, Phil has turned his attention from the inadequacies of the rangers support to the flaws that he perceives in the Celtic fan base, in particular those among us who continue to sing songs or chant in support of the IRA, specifically the Provisional IRA.

In cynical attempts to bully, emotionally blackmail and control the parameters of the debate, he has resorted to citing his republican heritage and current republican ‘connections’. These have ranged from anecdotes about his grandfather’s participation in the Mayo Flying Columns, watching Celtic matches with a former comrade of Bobby Sands and, most recently and most curiously, claiming the imprimatur of an unnamed senior anti-GFA republican (a man who ‘laughs like a drain’ apparently).

‘The Rebel Journalist’ turns conformist and attempts to lead a section of the Celtic support with him into the comfy seats, using all the means at his disposal, by hook or by crook…
Phil even attempted to justify his political about-turn with a schizophrenic fantasy ‘argument with his 25 year old self’ in a hilarious blog article. Hilarious to those who knew the 25 year old, the 35 year old, the 45 year old and indeed the 53 year old man who now turns his back on the same things that he defended and championed even until recently.

This from the person who was one of the two co-founders of the TAL Fanzine (I was the other) and who was responsible for writing many articles in support of republican militarism, alongside contributions on the experience of the Irish in Scotland, lancing the boil of ‘sectarianism’ and advancing the arguments around the issue of anti-Irish racism.

From TAL, Phil went on to write for the Irish Post and the weekly newspaper of the republican movement, on the back of which he earned his beloved NUJ card.

If Phil has republican political demons that he needs to confront and exorcise, and if those demons are ‘provisional’ ones, he should do so openly and honestly in the appropriate political arena, rather than hiding behind the new ‘anti-sectarian legislation’ in Scotland as a means to practice his own peculiar brand of republican political sectarianism.

If he means what he says then he really must question his own credentials as the self-styled ‘rebel journalist’. This is a ‘rebel’ who no longer has a cause other than to serve the club and the state as the self-appointed policeman and moral arbiter of the Celtic support.

Phil recently celebrated the working class nature of the Celtic support in an article on his website. He did so from his perch in the Aviva press box, about as far removed from that working class experience as he could be in that stadium. All the ‘rebel journalist’ seems to have had to rebel against was rangers and its fans. Do we really want to be reduced to a bunch of ‘hun haters’ by him? Is that all our history amounts to?

With the Ibrox club beginning to clean its act up, Phil is running out of targets, and his is a type of journalism that relies on targets. It appears that it is the Celtic support and particularly the away supporters that are now in his sights…

But the Emperor has no clothes. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has what he’s always had, a battalion on paper (or more accurately on a computer screen). He is a general without an army. Only our own stupidity will allow him to further indulge his megalomania and self-serving careerism.

The above article is reproduced from the latest issue of the TAL Ezine, August 2011