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They Think It’s All Dover… Fascists Humiliated By Antifa!

antifadoverEyewitness Report From Dover

by Red Road

It is not often anti-fascist activity in the “U.K.” these days gets the media coverage, negative or positive, and generated as much debate on the left over the use of violence to deal with fascist street activity. The incidents in question are the particularly violent clashes at a motorway service station just off Maidstone in Kent and, for the third time, in Dover.

The previous fascist mobilisation to Dover (Organised by the National Front) was met with hand-to-hand fighting in a car park, delaying of the fascist march and flying construction debris causing several injuries on both sides. The numbers were roughly even and the event was neither a win nor a defeat for anti-fascists and likewise for fascists. Anti-fascist numbers would have been higher if it were not for a demonstration in Central London to support the refugees.

C'mon The Gers!
Bonehead in  rangers scarf shows off his flag and his wounds. C’mon The Gers!

Claiming some warped and debased victory, but secretly feeling left in a sort of win/lose Limbo, the fascists decided to have another pop at Dover. This time both the anti-fascist mobilisation was to be much larger than the previous time and much more well organised. Previous lessons had been learned. Fascists ramped their mobilisation (Organised by the North West Infidels and South East Alliance) to be some sort of March on Rome but as we were to prove later it would not as spectacular and victorious as that, more like the March of Fools. Fascists were promising violence and wanted “red blood” (Yes, you heard that right) and mashed up Danni Brooks (the Nazi daughter of humiliated Nazi Ade Brooks) claimed that 90 odd percent of fascists mobilising for Dover were going to be there simply to have a pop at “reds”.

Friday 29th January 2016 was the day we travelled to London in order to prepare and get ready for the next day’s mobilisation in Dover. We were anxious about the next day but arriving a day early helped us to calm our nerves. It turned into a bit of a jolly but we had business with some other fascists to attend to later that night anyway. I received a tip off from one of our Kurdish socialist friends a couple of weeks previous about a possible street mobilisation on the evening of the 29th. This was to be an outing of clerical fascists, namely of the Daesh (IS) supporting variety.

A few of us agreed that on that night we would go and give them the same treatment we would to any other fascists, a complete no platform. We felt this justified on the basis of their Daesh support, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism; xenophobia and their vile targeting of Muslims not going along with their sick ideas (most Muslims that is). Such people also provide fuel for the state’s repressive fire.  As is the case when it comes to all fascists it should be up to us, the working-class, to defeat fascists on the streets and in the political arena NOT by the actions of and appeals to the state. So anyway myself and another anti-fascist, on our way to an anti-fascist meeting, decided to go ahead as spotters and phone back for others to come when they had been seen at their mobilisation point. However on our way there I received a message telling me that night’s clerical fascist outing was called off. Shit!, some of us were waiting to have a pop at them but alas it was not to be. They were lucky but maybe not so much the next time. So we carried on as normal to our meeting.

kent4-630x420The next day arrived and we set off in a column of 5 coaches bound for Dover. These were not the only coaches from London and elsewhere either, we were looking at 700-1000 on our side. We pulled into a service station just off Maidstone in Kent. People got off the coaches to go to the toilet and whatever else. I stayed on the coach and then after a few minutes I heard the sound of another coach behind us about to pull in. I got up, looked out of the back window and thought, “Jesus, for fuck sake”. From where I was it looked like a coach load of what looked like casuals so the adrenaline started flowing, no longer tired. Their coach pulled between the coach I was in and then they started to get off the coach. As they were stepping out of the coach I was in no doubt as to what they are, a coach load of Nazis given away by the Combat 18 t-shirt wearing bonehead. Then a matter of seconds later a scuffle could be heard and a fight broke out. A group of casuals filter off from the scuffle and circled our coach. I began asking around if anyone had any weapons, no one had any. However the circling casuals rejoined the fight in front of the service station building entrance. The coach driver, understandably looking startled, locked the coach doors. I went down to the driver and asked him to open the door so I could get out, he refused but then I demanded it and he opened the door and let me out.

thugs-throw-bins-chairsWhen I got out of the coach a couple of smoke grenades had been let off near the entrance of the service station building where the main fighting was taking place. It was a scene of chaos, hand-to-hand fighting between the two groups. One of the Nazis had blood pissing from his face and so I went around to the main group of anti-fascists. Advances to and from each other with fists and feet flying, flag poles being used to batter Nazis and debris in the form of chairs, bins and stones began flying. The Nazis were well out of their depth, whom by now we knew to be “Chelsea” (An hour or so later learning that they were in fact Chelsea Headhunters). They probably though they were going to Dover to turn over a bunch of middle-class Corbynistas and hippies but they were very wrong. The Headhunters were receiving a lesson in stark reality. Fighting spilled out between the coaches.

They were taking a proper kicking and another Nazi head is split open when their own coach began pulling away. They all shit themselves and began running towards their coach rushing to get on. The coach stopped and some got on whilst some others stood outside in front of the side door. Anti-fascists rapidly closed in from two ends and floored a few of the Headhunters and gave them a good kicking whilst the others were almost climbing over each other to get into the coach via the side door. Whilst the fascists who had been floored were getting a kicking those struggling to get back onto their coach were being punched and battered with poles. As this was happening the fascist coach windows went through and side mirrors and lights smashed.

The Chelsea Headhunters were going nowhere now. Anti-fascists pulled back and got back onto our coaches. Sensing a small amount of safety as four of our coaches began pulling away a few of the Headhunters began to get off the coach again. They were incensed, the mighty Chelsea Headhunters had their arses handed to them so one took their coach’s emergency hammer and began smashing the windows of the fifth anti-fascist coach which was parked up (although not completely smashed). They threw bricks at the coach I was in, which just bounced off the windows, we were pissing ourselves with laughter. Then one bloodied Headhunter picked up  a brick and threw it at our coach and cracked an outer pane of safety glass. What happened next was just disgusting, they went and smashed up a coach load of Russian school children parked at the same service stop. Horrible bastards taking their defeat out on innocent school kids.

Everyone back on the four coaches we once again began pulling away when the police turned up and stopped the coaches. We were then held on our coaches for the next 3-4 hours at the service station. After a few hours we were taken off the coaches and searched. A couple of anti-fascists were then nicked for ridiculous and false reasons. We were then put back onto our coaches and with Dover having by now finished, made our way back to London.

Dover15As we were a significant number going to Dover, we feared that those who had made it would get turned over. We could not have been more wrong. Whilst we were being held on the coach we watched the Ruptly live feed of the events in Dover. Militant anti-fascists had a decent turn out there despite being quite a few down due to the service station clash. On a couple of occasions anti-fascists briefly blocked the fascist march, delaying and creating chaos for them. The fascists were also being pelted with debris. When both those in Dover and those at the service station got back to London we learned that in Dover the fascists had tried to attack multiple times, but were repelled by hand-to-hand fighting with the fascists sustaining some tasty injuries as a result. These Nazis in Dover were not closet Nazis but unashamed out-and-out neo-Nazis, with stiff right arms in unison.

Ultimately the fascists were able to achieve their objective of marching in Dover, but not without heavy resistance resulting in quite a physical humiliation for them as their injuries show. Of course, the fascists are in denial, insisting that they won the physical fight, but reality and their injuries tell a different story.

As anti-fascists what this tells us is that, for the most part, fascism is no longer interested in achieving electoral success, as is the case with the BNP etc. They were beaten off the streets by Anti-Fascist Action, Red Action and others, they retreated to the ballot box and now, for explicit Nazis, the ballot box is no longer an option. They are out of the pseudo-Nazi closet and on the streets again and this needs to be met on the streets with a twin track policy of physical and political confrontation. The Nazis mean business and are not kidding about and neither should we. Physical force should be met with physical force: political force should be met politically: and when they try to organise culturally (Music etc.) we need to organise culturally. We need a working-class alternative led by working-class anti-fascists which will not just react but will pre-empt and prevent. We can see this slowly coming to fruition but we do not have time for incremental victories, the time is now.FashGers

The lesson of “Celtic Fans Against Fascism” and racism in football – a few thoughts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is from the excellent FOOTBALL IS RADICAL blog. One distinction that we would make is that we were not alone among Celtic fans to take a stand against racism after Mark Walters of Rangers was racially abused when he played for the first time at Celtic Park in 1989. The club condemned the racism meted out that day and the fanzine Not The View was even stronger in its condemnation of those who embarrassed the Hoops. Many fans responded to the racists by effectively self-policing and it is this fan-based approach that still stands as an example to the fans of any football club with a racist problem.  It was, however, a tipping point for the small group of Celtic supporters who went on to found TAL FANZINE and form ‘Celtic Fans Against Fascism’.

 

CFAFTALThe lesson of “Celtic Fans Against Fascism” and racism in football

“The formation of TÁL and Celtic Fans Against Fascism was really the culmination of our reaction against the racism of our own supporters towards Rangers’ signing of the Black English player Mark Walters in the late 1980s.  In the first game that Walters played for Rangers at Celtic Park, many of our fans made monkey chants and threw bananas on to the trackside.  That day was one of the most depressing for the militant anti-fascists and republicans among our support…

The Irish in Scotland were themselves the victims of racism and discrimination.  Therefore, it was hypocritical, to say the least, for the second and third generation of that immigrant community to be the perpetrators of racism…

The most important aspect of all that period is that we won the political argument with the majority of fans as well as any physical confrontations with racists that resulted.  In the end, it really became “anti Celtic” to be a racist, with our fans now taking a pride in their progressive attitudes to politics and struggle.”

Excerpts from an interview with the editors of the TÁL Celtic fanzine, published in Class War in Winter 2007

This is by no means positing an answer to racism in football, but I thought the excerpt above is really interesting and useful in how we think about tackling racism as football fans and wanted to share some thoughts on it.

A really important part of this excerpt, to me, is that whilst it’s an encouraging piece about concrete anti-racist action at football in solidarity with immigrants, it also refuses to shy away from the fact that racism does exist in many football clubs – regardless of radical reputation.

When you love a football club with all the hypocrisies and split feelings that can conjure up, the first reaction is to be defensive when accusations of discrimination are levelled at a fan base.  You know that it isn’t representative of a whole fan base, but there can often (not always) be an illogical knee-jerk reaction based on loyalty.

Our club would never behave like that”.  ”It’s just a few idiots”.  ”You misheard what they were chanting.”

We’ve all heard, or maybe even made, those kind of excuses before.  As a result, it can be more convenient to ignore discrimination and save collective face rather than confront it and do something about it because of unswerving allegiance.

Reminded me of a sad time away at Millwall (I know they probably get more than their fair share of negative press so I’m not picking on them, this is just my experience) two seasons ago.  A man in the home support was openly doing monkey impressions and pointing at two black QPR fans a few rows ahead of us.  The desired victims of the abuse were livid and were held back by police and stewards as a load of us surged to the front in their defence.  One fan demanded the police do something about it – they said to “ignore it”.  From my privileged position of being a white football fan who’s never had to deal with that kind of abuse, what made it particularly fucked up to me was that the guy doing the monkey gestures was surrounded by fans who did nothing.  In front of kids, police, other fans.  He obviously felt that even completely on his own, he could behave like that in front of his own fans without any censure or retribution.  He was right, in that sense – no-one around him so much as batted an eyelid.  For the record, I have Millwall supporting friends who are all decent people who were as appalled as I was so it’s not a condemnation of the whole club and it’s support – but nonetheless, this whole incident went on with no interference from the home fans in that particular area.

Pointing out the irony of the pitch being sided with “Kick it Out” campaign boardings is a bit of a cheap shot, but it’s not surprising either.  Campaigns like this are well meaning but perhaps also foster complacency.  It’s something we can all point to and feel good about ourselves – and to some extent it is positive in that these kinds of campaigns normalise the idea of racist behaviour as abnormal, if not necessarily as unacceptable as it should be.  These campaigns rely on big gestures and the encouragement of fans to inform on others to the higher echelons of football.  Whilst this does occur sometimes, it is worthy of note that for better or worse, as a general rule, football fans do not tend to react positively to this approach.  The first thought in negative situations like this is not to run to the club or an anonymous phone line when things I do not agree with happen in the stands, and that’s the same for any other fan I’ve talked to about this kind of thing.  I’m not saying that isn’t a legitimate course of action, of course it can be – but from my experience, I wouldn’t say that notifying an FA campaign or the club direct is the first port of call for most supporters.

Why that may be is a whole debate in itself and there are many factors at play, and it isn’t something I can claim to answer.  In some sense it’s perhaps the idea that your club’s supporters are fundamentally “yours”.  I.e. you can disagree with some of them, be embarassed and offended by them, but they are still your supporters.  It’s maybe a bit like being at school – your mates may do something out of order, but in most cases, you’ll keep your mouth shut, even though you know it’s the wrong thing to do.  It doesn’t mean people do not do anything about it and don’t speak out or take action (although of course, this frequently is the case) – but fans don’t tend to go through the “official channels”.

For evidence of that, you only have to look at messageboards after violence between two clubs – both may have behaved as bad as eachother, but for all the condemnation of violence, there’s always that underlying subtext – “well yeah maybe some of our fans acted up, but we weren’t as bad as those animals from X club”.  Or how players seen as bastards one week become “your bastards” to many fans when they play for you.  The same people who booed Joey Barton or Marlon King or Lee Hughes etc. can be singing their praises when their shirt design changes.  We may try and ignore it but so often, club loyalty and fear of alienation of other supporters both play a role in how we tackle any issue in football and it shouldn’t be ignored.  It’s all well and good to say “I wouldn’t stand for this” if you’re radically inclined but football stands are, by their nature, a big mix of people and opinions. We should not underestimate the fact that many fans simply want to support their team, regardless of what is being said and done around them.

All too often, people will be offended but do nothing.  For fear of retribution from the person being discriminatory, or of “making a scene”, or just wanting to ignore it and get on with watching the game.  More fundamentally though, the perpetrators of discrimination are often as much “part” of the fanbase as you or I are.  It’s convenient for us all to shrug our shoulders and say they aren’t proper fans and be blasé about it because we and our friends aren’t the ones doing it.  They are in our stands, supporting our team and are therefore our problem.  You can’t just ignore it – the hate exists whether we turn our nose up at their fan status or not.  Whilst it might make us feel better, it certainly doesn’t address the problem and in some senses it makes it worse.  For example, for a football fan in England who is white, heterosexual and male (like me), doing nothing more than asserting my (assumed) non-discriminatory status as a ‘real fan’ is simply an expression of the privilege that discrimination rarely affects ‘people like me’.  It relegates racism to something far less serious.  It makes racism an issue of offending sensibilities and ‘fan status’ rather than a serious problem that breeds hate, excludes others and all too often leads to violence and persecution.

My point with this ramble, and that excerpt from the TÁL editors above, is that fundamentally anti racist action has to come from the fans themselves.  Celebrity, liberal anti racism campaigns do achieve a level of normalisation for not accepting racism, but it sits above the fans rather than being “of” the fans.  No different to the “Respect” campaign – well-meaning as these campaigns can be, it is telling supporters what to do, rather than supporters themselves deciding what is and is not acceptable in the stands.

Celtic fans witnessed racism in their ranks and autonomously dealt with it – through dialogue with fans, through starting a fanzine to spread the word and through confronting racists en masse in and out of the stands to draw the line that racism is not acceptable.  Crucially, from within the fan base, not from UEFA, or the SFA or whatever – but from the people you share the stands with week in and week out.  

It’s an over-simplification of course, but fundamentally, a tannoy message and a celebrity telling a racist that monkey chants aren’t acceptable doesn’t make them sit down – it’s too external.  As well intentioned as “Kick it Out” is, it ignores the relationship with the fans – it’s being expressed by the same people who fuck with our kick off times, who allow sky high ticket prices, who instruct stewards to kick people out for standing and so on – the super structure of football.  You cannot safely predict that people who are reticent, angry or ambivalent about an FA mouthpiece most of the time to sit up and take notice of the same mouthpiece when it talks sense now and again.  Legitimate or otherwise, I know from myself that football supporters are not always the most logical – risking relationships and your job to lose your voice as you watch your team lose in the rain in Hartlepool is par for the course.  It’s not to say that fans don’t necessarily care – but an important campaign can be lost in a sea of complacency and routine.  Playing the same old recorded message about abuse from the stands can just fall into the same sonic landscape of a bad tannoy system telling you not to stand or that the match ball is sponsored by a local car showroom.  It gets lost in routine and people become detached from the message.  Anti racism ceases to be about active dissent – it falls helplessly into the audio and visual spectacle of detached fan compliance.  Fundamentally, whilst campaigns like Kick it Out could be better (perhaps with UEFA actually taking racism seriously, for starters), there is not much above that that they can do.  But a majority of fans drowning out such abuse, confronting it in numbers and winning the political argument from within the stands – that tends to be a different story.

We can’t be complacent and rely on liberal campaigns, the only way to really tackle racism is for fans themselves to take responsibility for what goes on in our stands.  When people hear something at the ground that offends them and feel too nervous to speak out (confrontations at the best of times can be very intimidating, and no less so at the football), all too often nothing but an awkward silence follows.  People may not realise that they are potentially surrounded by dozens of other people in earshot who feel just as offended – but just as intimidated.  But how would they know if we don’t talk about it?  That’s why, even if you don’t think your club has a problem, that talking about discrimination with your friends in the stands, on the messageboards, in the pub and so on, is so important.  When and if something like this happens, you can know that it’s not just you – but that other supporters feel just the same way and that can make the difference between keeping your mouth shut or standing up and doing something about it.  And that’s not just at your club – people may be over-zealous about the idea of “fan community”, but actions and words spread.  If you and your friends make a stand at one game, it can inspire other clubs to do it too.  Share your experiences online or pre/post match with fans of other clubs – you’ll be surprised just how many people are interested but felt too isolated and/or needed the inspiration to do something.

Drown it out with other chants, confront the perpetrator, boo – anything to make sure that the person realises that they are disgusting and offending their own fans.  People they may see every week and love the club just as much.  It’s a first step.  So don’t assume that everything’s ok – get talking and discussing!  Create a fanzine!  Make a banner with your friends!  And that means, me, you and anyone else who enjoys going to the football – because we are all responsible for our game.

Green Brigade Statement: Dundee & The Aftermath

The following is a statement by a senior member of the Green Brigade on what happened at Dens Park, the aftermath and the club’s response to media overreaction. Our thanks to the Underground CSC for bringing this to our attention.

It seems to be a strange time around Celtic Park fan wise.

At our game V Motherwell on the 2nd January the group were refused entry for a few banners which poked a bit of fun at the overreaction to the ‘events’ in Dundee. The banners had no swearing on them, or names. Nothing controversial. Just some banners standing up for the Celtic support. Something NO-ONE AT ALL at Celtic was doing. Not our manager, supporters association. Not even our our own chief exec.

Peter Lawwell’s reaction to the Dundee game was the strangest I would say. Within hours of the game finishing, he had decided publicly that the support were guilty of the claims made by the Dundee chairman. Laughable claims of ‘Rioting’ and ‘urinating where they stood’.  Lies and accusations our club should have at the very very least investigated before giving any sound bites to a baying press, infatuated with the Celtic supports ID. Yes there was a few altercations at the game. But everyone know that nothing was on a scale of that said by those looking to take a kick at the away support. Lies like running battles were laughable.

It’s amazing in this day and age of cameras everywhere and mobile phones capturing almost all that goes on, not one video of rioting, running battles or fans ‘pissing where they stand’ has emerged from Dundee. Not even from the home support, so its not as if the Celtic support are hiding what happened.

It’s a stitch up on a par with the ‘Shame Game’ when the full nation rounded on the Celtic support.

Peter Lawwell should have held his own enquiry and spoke to fan groups and got the true story as to what really happened at Dens. He didn’t. He hung the support out to dry and, along with the media and police, not the for the first time, attacked sections of the Celtic support.

Dundee claimed 1 in every 42 people were ejected. Mind boggling. Every one knows 4 Celtic fans were arrested. If there was 70 people ejected there is not a chance in hell Tayside Police force would only have arrested 4 of them. This is a police force who have the reputation of being the most aggressive and ruthless force not just in Scotland but all of the UK. Everyone knows at football when a fan is being ejected it can cause a bit of a rammy, sometimes it doesn’t, but there hasn’t been one story online or said in person about mass ejections and all the hassle that would undoubtedly cause. That’s because it was lies. Lies by the Dundee chairman that Celtic sided with and backed.

Why would Peter Lawwell be so keen to attack the away support like he did? Why was the manager also asked AGAIN to sink the boot into the away support?

Some of the latest news we’re hearing is that Celtic, with some trusted lackies, have been feeding Phil Whyte the blogger some info to try and tarnish the group’s name. To try and ramp up pressure on the Political singing and the pyro the group does. All very underhand for a club chief exec, though unsurprising due to the many sleekit actions Peter Lawwell has been up to over the years.

When the Green Brigade displayed its first poppy banners a few seasons back he immediately was on the phone to all the supporter groups demanding they condemn the group and its actions. He was moving in for the kill and wanted the group banned from Celtic Park for exploiting its freedom of speach. Thankfully fans  – even those not in agreement with the banner – sided with the Green Brigade’s rights to do such actions.

At the Motherwell game David Brannan, using CCTV outside the turnstiles at 111, viewed our message banners for the match and refused them entry. He refused to enter dialogue on the issue also.

So why would Celtic refuse banners which were showing support for the club’s support?

Why would Peter Lawwell in a timescale unfit to have had a proper investigation go along with reports the support rioted, ‘urinated where they stood’ and had 70 ejections?

Over the last few months Celtic – and Celtic officials – has been acting very strange. There are incidents that have come back to us where Celtic has asked some supporters to condemn the Green Brigade publicly for a host of things. There is a strong accusation that Celtic asked the ‘Disabled Supporters Association’ to write the statement they made public a few weeks back on flares.

Flares have been happening for 7 years now at Celtic games and this statement was released at a time when Peter Lawwell has been going hammer and tongs to get the group to ditch its pyro. Coincidence? I think not.

Just before Christmas there was lots of talk of Celtic’s security chiefs being in cahoots with the Police to target the Green Brigade and its members as much as they could. They were caught bang to rights on this when one of our members, who had to contact Celtic the very day he bought a new phone and so had a new mobile number, was then contacted hours later by the police on this brand new number.

As always there is a million and 1 things going on inside Celtic Park, that sadly not all can ever be made public, as some things are asked not to be said as it exposes the source.

It seems Celtic are hellbent on attacking the Green Brigade and the away support and will use anyone and everyone in this campaign to do so.

A Time To Publish

Last February, I penned an article for this blog that I decided in the end not to publish. My decision not to publish at that time was based on my view of Phil MacGiollabhain as being a ‘busted flush’ politically, if not journalistically.  I really didn’t think he was that important any more despite the forthcoming best-seller and his popular blog. However, since the publication of his book on the demise of rangers, Downfall (which will be reviewed by this blog at a later date) it has become apparent that MacGiollabhain intends to further exploit his new found status as a ‘Celebrity Celtic Fan’. He appears to be intent on using his reputation as a best-selling author and ‘journalist’ to beat down any section of the Celtic support that does not slavishly worship his interpretation of Celtic’s (and Ireland’s) history. The latest blogs from Phil and his editor/proof reader Angela Haggerty have told lies and half-truths about a situation that developed during the Boxing Day match at Dundee. There will be more on this blog regarding the alleged incidents at Dens Park later this weekend. It is clear that there is an agenda at work and that Phil has many collaborators from among the most anti-republican and anti-political elements of the club’s fanbase. By his own hand and the use of proxies he appears hellbent on destroying the reputations of anyone and any group that opposes him.  It is for that reason that I have decided to relent and publish the pulled blog from February 2012 which tells part (and I do mean only part) of the hidden history of The Rebel Fantasist. Phil will no doubt dismiss this blog in the same way that he dismisses every criticism that comes his way, as ‘playing the man’, but as anyone who has ever played the game will know, sometimes in the interest of the team it is necessary to play the man and the ball.

Talman, 5th January, 2013

 

Two Whites Don’t Make A Wong! 

February 2012

The story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf came to mind when I read a recent piece from Phil MacGiollabhain’s blog, or maybe it’s more fitting of that scene in Carry On Cleo when Kenneth Williams’ character Ceaser shouts ‘INFAMY! INFAMY! THEY’VE ALL GOT IT IN FOR ME!’

http://www.philmacgiollabhain.ie/when-the-truth-makes-you-a-target/

The article masquerades as a blog about pioneering, brave journalists, risking their lives against violent dictatorships to get their copy in against overwhelming odds. Closer inspection of the article, however, reveals it as a completely self-regarding egotistical piece about MacGiollabhain himself and his inflated opinion of himself and his ‘journalistic’ work.

In his fevered imagination Phil puts what he does on a blog (that largely obsesses over rangers) alongside those journalists who are literally dying to tell their stories in war-torn parts of the world. That he equates his ramblings about rangers’ financial crisis with the serious work of journalists in the Middle East and North Africa speaks volumes. This is the dream world that Phil lives in, where he is the avenging angel, armed with notepad, pen and press card. He puts his Walter Mitty lifestyle writing dispatches about Celtic, and more often rangers, from the idyll of Donegal on a par with war correspondents.

One thing for sure is that there is a financial appeal coming soon, because whenever this particular ‘bhoy cries wolf’ it usually ends with him begging Celtic supporters to part with more of their hard earned cash so that he can continue to do little more than sit at the other side of a computer playing with himself.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of the campaign against rangers being waged by ‘the rebel fantasist’ is that he is the namesake of the new rangers’ owner (Note: Craig Whyte was rangers’ owner at time of writing). That’s right, Phil MacGiollabhain, the self-proclaimed ‘rebel journalist’ is actually plain old Philip White, originally from Baillieston.

Is this a ‘blood feud’? I think we should be told!

MacMadman has been living his fantasy life with his fantasy name for some years now, but those who know him by his other name – Phil White – have many stories to tell of his cowardice and sly backstabbing of both friend and foe alike over the years.

One thing that all who know of his past agree on is that when the going gets tough MacWhite gets going, leaving others to clean up the mess he has left behind.

The first hint of Phil White’s unstable mental condition came as far back as the 1987 General Election when he was the election agent for an SNP candidate in the east end of Glasgow. Using his contacts in the local republican movement, the ‘Pied Piper of Baillieston’ gathered some young Republican Flute Band members and supporters of the Irish republican cause around him. In his usual crass way, he sarcastically nicknamed this group of young republican electioneers, “The Provisional SNP”. Oh how he laughed.

Phil’s own revisionist account of this election campaign where he blames the Labour Party for attributing the ‘provisional’ name to the SNP canvassers can be found here.

This arrogant, sniggering, disrespect of the republican movement (and those from its ranks who had volunteered to help him) was to prove to be Phil White’s undoing. Needless to say MacWindbag’s moniker for his little band of ‘volunteers’ was picked up by the press and, on being door-stepped by print and TV journalists, White only too obligingly recanted his sins, denied all knowledge of such a group’s existence (despite the fact that he himself had bestowed the ‘provo’ name on them) denied all links to Irish republicanism and duly disappeared from the political scene for about 4 years, until he re-emerged in 1990-1991 to lend a hand in setting up TAL. Armed with a new name, he reinvented himself from White to ‘MacGiollabhain’, assuming that his previous political indiscipline was now ‘in the past’ and would likely be forgotten. Incidentally, the name MacGiollabhain does not even translate properly from either Irish or English. Try looking up the name in the Irish telephone directory and I’ll wager that very few MacGiollabhain’s will you find, apart from MacMentallyUnstable himself.

Editor’s Note: Due to information received there appears to have been changes of name back and forth over the years for reasons unknown. In the 1980’s in Scottish and Irish republican circles the man now known as MacGiollabhain was known as Phil White. Whether or not this was also an assumed name is now the subject of further investigation. 

During his time with TAL, he contributed under the pseudonym Mick Derrig; a name borrowed from a member of the Flying Columns who Phil claimed as a relative. During a particularly violent period of anti-fascist activity in Glasgow, when local members of AFA were involved in a clandestine conflict with fascists and loyalists, White took fright and disappeared, eventually relocating to the safe environs of Donegal. In Donegal, he ingratiated himself with the local republican movement, falsely claiming to have been ‘the editor of TAL Fanzine’. He wrote for An Phoblacht under the same Mick Derrig alias and earned his much waved around NUJ card through his work for the paper.

If this was all that Phil White/MacGiollabhain had ever done it would be nothing, but along the way this man who claims to be a ‘journalist’ working on behalf of Celtic supporters has made some of the most serious accusations and bizarre allegations against political activists in Ireland and Scotland. It is not necessary to go into details here, suffice to say that MacGobbledeegook’s allegations of ‘touting’ and smears of ‘paedophilia’ against Scottish republicans precipitated a nasty feud between two pro-independence republican organisations in Scotland that had only just started to work together politically. Questions still remain unanswered as to just exactly what White was playing at back then? Did he deliberately provoke this feud in order to scupper any political unity and effective actions that might occur? I remember discussing with a senior member of Anti-Fascist Action, White’s propensity for making unfounded claims about his own links to republicanism and his wild allegations against others. We concluded that he was more likely a fantasist than an agent provocateur. With the benefit of hindsight, however, that assessment may need to be reviewed.

In all respects Phil McGiollabhain is a person who enjoys pointing fingers at others and spreading malicious lies and rumours. This aspect of his ‘work’ is only ever done on the QT, he hasn’t the balls to publish some of the more bizarre allegations that he spreads by word of mouth in his malicious whispering campaigns. For example, in Phil’s world, the serial killer known as Bible John, is or was ‘a prominent member of the SNP’.

The actions of social workers and the police in the Orkney Child Abuse Case, which were based on false allegations, was defended by him. This in spite of the fact that it later transpired that the social workers involved had attended ‘satanic ritual identification’ courses run by an American right-wing Christian group with a crazy philosophy and a track record for smearing non-believers as ‘witches’ and ‘Satanists’. Even after questions were raised about the motives of the social workers involved in the case, MacGiollabhain, a social worker himself, still maintained that the adults and children at the centre of the enquiry ‘were part of an international paedophile ring’.

More recently he has turned his attentions to making whispering allegations and insinuations against senior members of Sinn Fein and the Republican Movement, whilst at the same time publishing a hypocritical blog article fawning over Martin McGuinness’ candidacy for president, a man that MacGiollabhain privately maligns at every opportunity. Indeed, by his own admission, senior members of the movement in Donegal now ‘cross the road to avoid him’.

It is this history of political indiscipline and the deliberate relaying of misinformation in order to foment discord in political organisations that requires thorough investigation. Indeed, given White-MacGiollabhain’s recent articles which give full support to police and state intervention on a range of matters, it is imperative that his personal and political history is looked at ‘in the round’ and not just through the green-tinted spectacles of the Celtic support, the ‘market’ that White constantly seeks to manipulate and exploit.

A Political Prisoner’s Day In Maghaberry

Irish Political PrisonerA DAY IN MAGHABERRY

By Alan Lundy.

Its 27th September about 5 o clock in the morning I am lying in my cell nervously thinking about the day ahead. Today I am in court and with court comes the brutal, degrading and humiliating tactic of the forced strip search of Republican prisoners. This is not my first time being brought to court so I know what lies ahead. My heart beats faster and faster I can actually hear it pumping through my chest as thoughts of what I am about to receive run through my mind. I might be worried but at the same time I know I wont comply to these bitter heartless torturers.

The next few hours seem to drag in then about 7 o clock the alarm bells ring throughout the wing, they couldn’t be any louder. I lift myself up into a sitting position and stretching myself out I look into corner of the cell and see last nights dinner I had thrown it there as it wasn’t edible.

Looking on the floor beside my bed I see my breakfast, a small packet of Alpen and a half carton of milk, the screws had threw it into my cell the night before knowing I was for court this morning. I eat this and when finished I keep the spoon as I will need it later. I rip up the plastic container it came with and the milk carton and I throw them out the window, this procedure happens with the three daily meals, it stops them from using the containers and cutlery over and over again and it also leaves the outside of the Republican wing looking like a rubbish dump which annoys the administration as they have to pay industrial cleaners every so often to come in and clean it up.

I can hear the cleaners outside with big hoovering machines cleaning up the mess we had made by pouring the stuff threw the doors last night. I realise I had better go to the toilet quickly before they come and get me for court. The toilet consists of a sheet of newspaper on the ground and an empty half carton of milk, out the window the urine goes and onto the wall the rest of it goes. Its not a nice thing to be spreading this onto the wall first thing in the morning, not a nice thing to be doing anytime of the day but we have no other choice the administration has forced us into this position but at least today there is room to spread it, my cell was cleaned for the first time 2 weeks ago, before that the four walls were covered top to bottom with a double coat of excrement as well as the ceiling. The ceiling isn’t accessible to all the prisoners as height comes into play here. To cover the ceiling it entails stacking a load of newspapers on top of the plastic chair we have or placing your brown bag of clothes on top of the chair and standing on it, it takes good balance as it is awkward but it is a good feeling knowing that the person cleaning it with the power hose will be finding it difficult to dodge the waste coming down on him from the ceiling.

Shortly after the door opens and there they stand. The riot squad. These are the hateful rats that work our landing every single day. There are four of them, “Shower, you’re for court” one of them snarls. I walk out carrying my towel, toothbrush/paste and soapbox, one of them takes these from me and searches through the towel and box, another searches me from head to toe while the other two just stand and stare at me with hate filled eyes. The four of them walk me the short distance to the showers, two to the front of me and two behind me, this is what they call controlled movement. No other prisoner will be out on the landing while another prisoner is on it and at all times he will have four of this riot team around him.

At the showers they throw a box at my feet with a brown paper bag on top, in this box we have our clean clothes, they don’t let us wear the clothes we have in our cells when we leave the landing as they say they are contaminated.

I take my clothes out of the box and lift the brown bag, they open the steel barred grille let me in and then lock it behind me. I’m only in a few minutes when one of them shouts “Hurry up the bus is here” I take my time I’m in no rush for what lies ahead. I put the clothes I had wore leaving my cell plus the towel and toiletries into the brown paper bag I walk over to the grilles the same four are standing waiting. One takes the brown bag and searches it thoroughly while another searches me again from head to toe and the other two yet again just stare with their hate filled glare. “Right use the phone” one of them says I tell him that I can’t use the phone as my phone card is in my cell. “Not our problem” he says and I quickly realise that I wont get my 5 min phone call to my family today. With that he turns to other members of the riot team who have now gathered at the reception desk “That’s him for the bus, he doesn’t want the phone.” They all burst out laughing. Pathetic.

Four of them again walk me the short distance to the grilles that leads me off our landing and out into to the circle, through one gate and then another, a short walk to the turn-style, through it and straight onto the bus at the entrance of Roe house. The engine starts and away we go. There is a small hole in the material used to blank out the window and as we go through the two large electronically controlled gates I can see we pass the search box. The search box contains the boss chair which is a body scanner that can detect objects hidden inside ones body they put us through this on our way back from visits so why cant they just put me through it now instead of driving straight by it and on to the reception area where a body search will be forced upon me by a five strong riot team?

My stomach is in knots as the van pulls up to the reception area. I’m brought into the reception area and asked immediately if I am going to comply with the strip search. My answer is no. They put me into a small room and tell me I have 15 minutes reflection time to think about it. “I don’t need it” I say, but the door slams firmly shut. During this time I am pacing up and down the small room taking deep breaths and moving my arms and wrists in circular motions to loosen them up for the attack that lies ahead. After the allotted time the door opens and a governor walks in he asks me am I going to comply with the strip search, more determined than ever I repeat “no”, he asks is there anything he can do that will change my mind again, I say no. “Ok then” he says “I am going to order the search” and he walks out. Within seconds a five strong riot team rush through the door, one of them runs to the corner with a hand held video camera in his hand while two quickly rush me and grab my arms, they pull them straight out from my sides and twist my wrists, fingers and arms into some kind of martial art lock. A third grabs hold of my head and pushes it down to my chest whilst pushing me hard enough to force me to my knees. Whilst on my knees my arms are outstretched in a crucifix type position and my wrists are twisted agonizingly upwards. The fourth member goes behind me and pulls my legs from the kneeling position while the third one forces my head to the floor, all the while the other two still have my arms, wrists and fingers in locks, I am now lying face flat on the floor two of the riot squad are on the ground with me still with my arms wrists and fingers in these painful locks. Again the fourth member of the team begins taking off my shoes and socks, he searches them and finds nothing, he then pulls off my jeans and underwear leaving me naked from the waist down, again he searches these and finds nothing, Then the third one lifts my head about 8 inches off the floor while the other two have my arms, wrists and fingers still in locks. The one doing the stripping pulls off my t-shirt, searches it and finding nothing, he throws it on top of me. The senior officer of the riot squad tells them one by one to pull out. The first to go is the one stripping me, he is then followed by the one who is holding my head to the floor. This leaves three of them still in the room, one in the corner who has been videoing the whole ordeal and the other two who have my arms, wrists and fingers in locks. All of a sudden one of them starts shouting “Stop resisting, stop resisting!” I can’t move never mind resist and at this they systematically pull my arms up outstretched behind my back. I squeal in agony, I don’t know how to explain the position I am in because I don’t think it would be humanly possible to put ones body in this shape. I think my shoulders are going to pop out, I feel my wrists are at breaking point, I am still screaming in pain when they let me drop to the floor. “Don’t get up till we leave the room” one of them says. I just lie there in agony but a sigh of relief comes over me, it was over, for now.

I get myself together and get on my feet I look at the door, the hatch is open and the one who had the camera is still videoing, I get dressed and the hatch slams shut. Within a minute the governor walks into the room, “Have you any complaints about the search?” he asks. I say it was overly aggressive and uncalled for. “I’ll make a note of it” he says. He leaves the room and a nurse enters, “Have you any injuries?” I just look at her, and she leaves. The screws at the door shout “lets go.”

I walk out to the reception area and there is the riot squad standing laughing, they all stand tall as if they had just carried out something to be proud of. I just look at them smirk and turn and walk to the front door.

Out we go and into the prison van for the short journey to Laganside courts in Belfast. Once there I am brought straight down to the cells and I wait to be called. Within the hour I am brought upstairs to the courtroom. I get to sit beside three of my friends who are in the dock with me, all four of us in court on trumped up charges placed against us by the RUC. Within minutes the judge adjourns it as the so called police witnesses haven’t appeared.

I shake hands with my friends and am led back down to the cells. I am held here for a few hours. They bring me lunch, a sandwich and a packet of crisps and then its back onto the prison van and the same short journey back to Maghaberry.

The nerves in my stomach return again. I know they are waiting on me.

Back in reception the whole brutal procedure is repeated again.

I am in agonizing pain as I am brought back to Roe 4. I am lead straight to my cell by four of the riot squad. Two in front and two behind.

The cell door slams behind me. My dinner is already sitting on the bed, freezing cold potatoes and some kind of cheese and broccoli slice. I throw it behind the door and lie down on top of the bed and think about the day I’ve just had. I ask myself, why do they drive past the search box with the boss chair in it? If they put us through the boss chair leaving Maghaberry then there would be no need for these brutal forced strip-searches. Then reality kicks in, it is all about power and control. I cant help but wonder what sort of person would you have to be to go to work every day and brutalise another human being ? A sick individual is my only conclusion.

As I lie there in thought my cell door opens “Anything for the duty governor?” one of them says, I don’t even lift my head to acknowledge him the cell door slams shut.
Its about half 6 now time to start the nightly building of the dam to block the door for when I put the stuff out later. Some skill is needed in mastering this art but within a few days I had it sussed.

When I need to go to the toilet later I will use the plastic spoon I saved from this morning from breakfast to mix it all together until it turns into a brown nasty liquid which I will be able to pour out onto the landing. We never get to see it but I would love to see the state of the landing and the mess they have to clean up after all the lads have emptied their mix out the doors. With this done and after a little bit of reading I close my eyes and settle down for the night. Tomorrow brings a new day and although we might be locked up 23 hours a day I will get to see my friends and comrades during that little bit of exercise time. This brings a smile to my face because despite the treacherous conditions we are forced to live in despite the brutal regime we are forced to endure, the craic and the spirit couldn’t be greater.

It fills me with great pride to play a small part in this phase of the prison struggle. We are more determined now than ever to see this protest through to the end and we will win.

These men on dirty protest here in Maghaberry are brave men, these men are strong men but above all else these men are Irish Republicans.

Victory to the protesting prisoners in Maghaberry.

ALAN LUNDY, P.O.W
ROE 4, MAGHABERRY

BEATING THE FASCISTS

Anti-Fascist Action

This is the review from Issue 41 of the Journal of the Socialist History Society (click here to order book)

Sean Birchall, Beating the Fascists: The Untold Story of Anti-Fascist Action (London: Freedom Press, 2010), 416pp., ISBN 9781904491125, £15.00, pbk.

“…they were hit with everything, bars, hammers, baseball bats. Yes it was savage enough I suppose but not gratuitous. We were taking the opportunity to send them a message …” (p.215)

Beating the Fascists deals with Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), an organisation that engaged in what was, in effect, a quasi-paramilitary conflict with a variety of fascist organisations, principally the BNP and Combat 18, who were intent on pursuing a policy of insurrection by ‘controlling the streets’. This semi-clandestine campaign continued up until 1994 when Nick Griffin ostentatiously declared that his party were to ‘de-commission the boot’ in order to end what John Tyndall had described as ‘a state of war’. AFA had,literally, driven the fascists off the streets and forced them into a comprehensive strategic re-evaluation, and this text provides key anti-fascist activists with a platform to tell their own story in their own words.

AFA was created on 28 July 1985 at Conway Hall in London (although formally launched in Liverpool in the following year) and set out to be a totally non-sectarian and democratic organisation with its only objective being to oppose fascism both physically and ideologically. AFA in fact consisted of people belonging to a range of political groups, including Red Action (communist), the Direct Action Movement (anarcho-syndicalist), Class War (anarchist), Workers’ Power (Trotskyist), and Communist Action Group (Stalinist)—as the book says, in AFA hunt saboteurs rubbed shoulders with members of the Territorial Army and Irish Republicans! AFA was, indeed, an odd amalgamation but according to the book, ‘one of the reasons AFA was so effective was that it could apparently accommodate recruits from all ideologies and none’ (p.341). Yet the objective of AFA’s principal activists is clearly articulated throughout – physical resistance as a pre-requisite for effective anti-fascism, to clear the fascists out of working-class areas and destroy all semblance of a fascist presence in public spaces.

By 1990 AFA was clearly identified as the militant wing of the anti-fascist movement with a dedicated street-fighting cadre and stewards group. At its peak in the early 90s AFA had four regions and 36 branches with particular areas of strength in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. Yet as the book is at pains to point out, street confrontation was only a part of what AFA set out to do. It was an important tactic (not a principle) and only part of a multi-faceted approach to anti-fascist practice. The magazine Fighting Talk was set up in 1991, and an attempt was made to mobilise people via various cultural and leisure activities such as Cable St Beat and Unity Carnivals. Meanwhile football clubs were the focus of considerable AFA activity with teams like Glasgow Celtic, Manchester United and Aston Villa having a visible AFA contingent, determined to halt the colonisation of the game by the extreme right. AFA even produced a BBC Open Space video entitled Fighting Talk. So Beating the Fascists looks, therefore, in some detail at the ‘roots’ of AFA in the Anti-Nazi League of the late 1970s, the split from the SWP in 1981, the formation of Red Action, the launch of AFA in 1985, and the numerous internal feuds and splits that ensued. It is also replete with detailed and graphic descriptions of extremely violent confrontations with fascists, which will doubtless horrify those anxious to dismiss AFA as the mirror image of the right-wing bullies they were claiming to oppose.

There is no doubt that Beating the Fascists is a controversial book, a fact acknowledged by the author(s) as well as the publishers, Freedom Press, who have described it as ‘the most controversial book of the decade’. Its credentials as a source of intense, even acrimonious, debate are reflected in the fact that some people did not actually want the text to see the light of day at all, and the eventual publication has precipitated vociferous ‘discussion’ in various circles, even causing some former comrades to condemn the book in recriminatory tones. It is a book that, seemingly, not only divides opinion but generates deeply felt and contradictory emotions, offending not just right wing reactionaries but a variety of liberals, anarchists, Trotskyists and others. This is quite an accomplishment for a text produced by a small independent publisher, concerning what is, on the face of it, a relatively esoteric element of left-wing political practice in the 1980s and 90s. The source of the consternation and condemnation is not difficult to discern.

The book is in fact quite explicit from the outset in stating its purpose – it tells the story of AFA, not only from a rank-and-file activists’ perspective, but also more specifically from the point of view of those activists that coalesced around the group Red Action (described, incidentally, by BNP HQ as ‘the worst of the lot, total scum’). Given that AFA was always a relatively pragmatic amalgamation of various political groupings, there have been rumblings of resentment, particularly from anarchists, who claim that the text is focused too narrowly on those individuals who, although playing a key role in certain cities, did not constitute by any means the entirety of the organisation. Yet such criticism is odd given the fact that those who composed the text have not claimed any definitive or comprehensive purpose. Clearly the book does focus somewhat on those involved in Red Action, who acquired a fearsome reputation for ruthlessness when engaging their political enemies (it is worth remembering that Combat 18 were set up in response to the success of RA), but in many ways the driving force behind AFA was indeed Red Action. Formed in 1982, many of its members having been expelled from the SWP for the venal sin of ‘squadism’, Red Action explicitly rejected the liberal-left anti-racist agenda, and criticised the state funded agencies of the multi-culturalist establishment. As the author points out, ‘while race awareness took the plaudits, it was a strikingly illiberal militant anti-fascism that did all the heavy lifting’ (p.18). Little wonder, then, that the book has caused controversy.

What the text does provide is a fascinating glimpse of the struggle that took place between AFA and the unreconstructed Nazis on the extreme right, and the book is unquestionably authoritative in the sense of emanating from those who were actually engaged in the struggle – but it is much more than that. The strangely dichotomous narrative contains not simply a sometimes chilling account of collective confrontation, but also a concise,calculating analysis of why such methods were deployed, and interestingly, a realistic acknowledgement of the limitations of AFA’s strategy – violence of the first resort can never be anything but an artificial and temporary remedy. This is not simply hooligan-porn, and anybody aiming simply to satisfy an urge to experience, vicariously, the thrill of visceral violence, is likely to be somewhat disappointed. Fighting the Fascists has taken upon itself the more ambitious objective of contextualising and examining the strategy of AFA, as well as documenting, in remorseless detail, the various dust-ups that ensued.

Beating the Fascists is, in effect, both an analysis and a micro-historiography of popular resistance against fascism. It documents the fight against the purveyors of an evil political creed which takes place in the very communities where that grotesque ideology is incubated. It is, more than anything, the story of ordinary people engaged in struggle. The words of Phil Piratin come to mind who, commenting on people remembering their participation in the ‘Battle of Cable Street’ said, ‘the people were changed. Their heads seemed to be held higher, and their shoulders were squarer—and the stories they told! Each one of them was a ‘hero’—many of them were’ (P. Piratin, Our Flag Stays Red, 1948, p.25). As Eric Hobsbawm has pointed out, sometimes it is a good thing to remind ourselves of what the enemy fears most—ordinary working people that are assertive in their own collective working-class identity, self-confident, politically astute and prepared to resist. Read the book and remind yourself.

Mark Hayes, University of Southampton

Celebrate Identity – Challenge Intolerance

Two games into the new season and the self-appointed ‘Thought Police’ among a section of our fans in cyberspace are already screaming about ‘inappropriate songs’ being sung by our supporters.

We felt it appropriate to remind them of this excellent analysis from September 2010 that came out of a diversity training programme run by the much respected organisation CICI (Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance)

Summary of Equality and Diversity training – Celtic Football Club supporters

Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance recently delivered Equality and Diversity training for supporters groups and fans of Celtic Football Club. The training day covered a whole range of issues ranging from political expressions and ideology to sectarianism, racism, Irish culture and wider Equality issues.

Owing to social myths and misconceptions many of the songs that are frequently heard within football stadia have been incorrectly categorised and cultural ignorance has sought to sectarianise certain songs when such accusations are without foundation. Consequently this has created a confusion around songs that are heard within Celtic Park and stadia throughout Scotland and beyond.

Various Celtic supporters groups were represented at the training day. Within the content of the Equality and Diversity training day we focused on the rules and regulations which effectively govern football supporters in and around stadia in Scotland, as well as ensuring there was an emphasis on wider Scottish law. We also offered clarification on the long standing controversy around Irish songs, this being an area of concern for many Celtic FC supporters and the wider Irish community in Scotland.

We wish to make clear that :

A ) Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance is an Equality and Diversity consultancy. Our fundamental position is that people have a right to celebrate their identity regarding the Protected characteristics within Equality and also have the right not to be discriminated against for the same aspects of identity.

B ) What is set out below is coming from an Equality perspective, we are apolitical and as such do not enter into current and ongoing political matters, ideology or belief.

C ) It is intended as a guide only for supporters, what is set out below has not had any approval from Celtic Football Club, the football authorities or the police. We cannot give guarantees that supporters will not be intimidated, threatened, ejected from stadia, banned from stadia or charged for what is legitimate expression.

D ) We are not advocating that supporters sing any particular song, our findings are around rights and responsibilities from an Equality perspective.

 

Scottish Premier League and Celtic FC Unacceptable Conduct

From the Scottish Premier Leagues Unacceptable Conduct document which has been adopted by Scottish Premier League clubs, there is a clear opposition to any expressions which are motivated by racial and religious intolerance. The stadium regulations of the club also makes clear that the club is opposed to homophobic abuse. From a societal perspective it is the areas of race, religion and sexuality that engender a level of hostility that leads to most physical abuse and Hate Crime in such a violent form. As an Equality and Diversity consultancy we are fully supportive of the position of both Celtic Football Club and the Scottish Premier League. As such we would encourage supporters to inform stewards and the police of any such abuse but would also discourage supporters from language that is pejorative around age, disability and gender. Within the Unacceptable Conduct of the SPL and member clubs there is also reference which seeks to dissuade supporters from engaging in derogatory references to a ‘social or cultural group with perceived religious affiliation’.

With this in mind, and taking into account certain chants that have been heard historically in and around the environs that Celtic Football Club play their fixtures we would ask fans to desist in any chants which are based around the Orange Order and wider Loyal Orders. There could, additionally, be problems for supporters who engage in the song commonly referred to as ‘Roamin in the Gloamin’, primarily for the interjection in the ‘song’ which states ‘Fuck King Billy and John Knox’. Supporters have been ejected and subsequently banned from football for such expressions in the past and on this issue we fully support both the club and the police. Whilst we understand that such expressions have became more infrequent in recent years it is imperative to point out that such chants and interjections are not conducive in any way to creating a more tolerant society.

Within the training day around this issue we also emphasized the importance of ensuring that racist attitudes are challenged and opposed. Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance made supporters aware that racism is no longer solely based around the abuse of an individual or group owing to skin colour. More and more racist abuse is directed at people through nationality, national origins, citizenship and ethnicity and again we support the stance of the clubs and police in removing such abuse.

Celtic FC Stadium Regulations

Celebrate Identity Challenge Intolerance main focus in this area centred on Section 11 and fully support the position of the club which states that any sectarian, racist, and homophobic abuse is strictly forbidden within Celtic Park. Section 11 states that ‘The use of threatening behaviour, foul or abusive language is strictly FORBIDDEN. Racial, sectarian, political, homophobic or discriminatory abuse or chanting is also forbidden and is considered as unacceptable conduct and may result in arrest and a lifetime ban from regulated football matches’. With a ‘political’ reference our view is that this is intended to ensure that there are no endorsements of proscribed organisations as decided by the Home Office and British Government. This view stems from comments on several occasions attributed to Celtic FC Chief Executive Peter Lawwell, comments which state that any support or songs themed around proscribed groups such as the Provisional IRA are unwelcome where Celtic FC are playing, either at Celtic Park or away from home. This position effectively disallows songs such as Roll of Honour, Crossmaglen, Long Kesh and others that are similarly themed. On the issue of visual expressions with political connotations or motives we ensured that we covered the issue of flags and symbology as this had been an area of concern for some supporters. As there is no Flags and Emblems Act we informed those in attendance that on a point of law there are no illegal flags as such. We feel this important to point out around the matter of the Ikurrina, commonly known as the Basque flag, and also the Palestinian flag. Neither flag is prohibited in their respective regions, the Ikurrina being legalized in 1977 and the Palestinian flags’ ban being all but removed in Israel in the early 1990’s and with this in mind we would find it perplexing why either flag would be banned beyond the respective areas. On this we would also like to dispel the myth that the flag known as the Starry Plough is illegal. We feel it would be helpful and offer greater transparency if Celtic Football Club could offer a more detailed description in writing of what they feel is unacceptable from a political perspective.

Section 74 – Criminal Justice Act Scotland 2003

This particular section is based around offences with a ‘religious aggravation’. These are offences where ‘the offender shows malice or ill-will towards the victim based on the victim’s membership (or presumed membership) of a religious group or group with a perceived religious affiliation, or ‘the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by malice or ill-will towards members of a religious group or group with a perceived religious affiliation’. The content of Section 74 is such that it makes clear that any abuse based on religion is a criminal offence, and also that any abuse against those belonging to or associated with a ‘group with a perceived religious affiliation’ could lead to arrest. The wording of Section 74 means that engaging in abuse which is anti-Orange in nature could lead to arrest and a charge of ‘Religiously Aggravated Breach of the Peace’ even although Orangeism is not a religion or faith. There have been cases where such verbal abuse has led to court cases and convictions and this can potentially affect any supporter whether they are Catholic, Protestant, any other religion, or indeed of no religion or faith.

We would also point out that there are legal grounds for charges relating to any form of racist abuse and we fully support both the club and the police in ensuring that both racial and religious prejudice is dealt with. Finally on this matter, we wish to emphasize that illustrating a pride in religion or faith or making a representation of faith does not breach Section 74 of the Criminal Justice Act Scotland. In the flags that have been brought to Celtic Park and away fixtures there have been symbolic representations of Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam and this does not infringe on any of the above rules and regulations.

Irish songs

It is this area that has created the most controversy. Whilst we appreciate that this is and has been an emotive issue, our view is that this controversy has emanated from certain songs and expressions being erroneously classed as sectarian. We have agreed to create a list of Irish songs that are not in breach of any of the legislation above, and have no sectarian connotations, either through lyrical content or the event(s) the respective song is themed around. Ireland is a sovereign nation and as such enjoys the same rights as other sovereign nations. Within this there are rights to celebrate national identity and nationhood whether that is expressing an affection or love for a nation, or remembering those who died in order to secure a nations freedom or independence. This is a right afforded to any citizen and by extension, nation, not just around the Irish or Ireland. When we covered this area we looked at it from a commonly used definition of racism in the field of Equality which alludes to ‘to treat an individual or group less favourably based upon race, skin colour, nationality, ethnicity’ and we feel it is necessary to convey that racism is not merely the presence of hostility, it is also the denial of equality regarding skin colour, nationality, national origins, ethnicity etc and cultures therein.

When this is looked at then it is clear that to refer to legitimate Irish songs in unfavourable terms could be construed as racist if the same rules are not applied to songs and cultures pertaining to other nations. This is an area that we feel is important to refer to regarding the positions of both the stewards and the police who oversee crowd behaviours within professional football. Both parties have a difficult job in making stadia a safe and secure environment and we hope that this information will be beneficial in ensuring that neither party is subject to accusations of racism. This also has a relevance outwith the immediate vicinity of football matches, particularly those tasked with reporting on professional football.

Taking all of this into account we have listed songs that are Irish in nature, which stem from a pride in Irishness, or are themed around Irish patriots, it was around patriotic songs that most clarification was sought. Some of the songs referred to are known outwith traditional Irish circles. For example the song A nation once again featured in the Irish dancing show ‘Celtic Tiger’ which was seen by millions throughout the globe, as was the song ‘Four green fields’. Both A nation once again and Foggy Dew topped BBC radio polls in recent times and several of the songs have been top of and featured in the Irish music charts.

The accompanying pictures below illustrate the Irish Government endorsement and recognition as patriots of those who died during the Easter Rising and War of Independence in the former part of the 20th century. The British ambassador to Ireland has attended these commemorations in the recent past. The pictures mirror those of other nations, their political leaders, armed forces and citizens who annually commemorate those who have died for their respective nations fighting against persecution, fascism and tyranny.

Below is a list of Irish songs that from an Equality perspective do not infringe any of the outlined legislation.

Amhrán na bhFiann ( Irish national anthem )
Fields of Athenry
Irish soldier laddie
Irish soldier boy
Lonesome boatman
Boys of the old brigade
Merry Ploughboy
Broad black brimmer
Foggy Dew
Let the people sing
Meet me at the pillar
Bold Robert Emmet
Kevin Barry
James Connolly
Michael Collins
James Connolly’s ghost
Protestant men
Henry Joy
Dying rebel
Boolavogue
A nation once again
God save Ireland
Patrick Pearse
Banna strand
Boys of Wexford
The valley of Knockanure
Wearing of the green
Only our rivers run free
Tri-coloured ribbon
Oro Se Do Bhatha Abhaile
Save a piece of this island for me
On the one road
Grace
Farewell to Dublin
Galtee Mountain boy
Flight of earls
This land is your land
No Irish need apply
Lough Sheelin eviction
Four green fields
Winds are singing freedom
Down by the glenside

We would also strongly recommend that the songs listed above are sung without any additions or interjections which would infringe the legislation above. We also want to stress that the songs listed are not a complete list of songs that do not breach any legislation. Owing to there being thousands of Irish songs it would be impossible to have a detailed list of all songs which are considered Irish and have both a theme and lyrical content to support such an assertion. If people have concerns around this then please contact us at contact@cici.org.uk and we will try to answer any queries in due course.

The reasons for the selected songs stems from the position that :

a ) Through research and dialogue on the matter we understand that these are Irish songs that many supporters have a familiarity with.

b ) As a result of that familiarity we would hope that supporters would give some consideration to introducing these songs instead of songs and expressions which breach any of the rules, regulations, law, Unacceptable Conduct etc.

c ) None of the songs listed above would, if the Unacceptable Conduct document is adhered to, be likely to have Celtic Football Club sanctioned in any way by any football authority, both in domestic football and under the jurisdiction of UEFA. Patriotic songs are heard frequently in UEFA governed matches, most notably at international level and to our knowledge this has never brought sanctions to any national association.

Closing summary

As an Equality body we would encourage supporters to eradicate all forms of intolerance within stadia and would remind fans that society is not suspended when people enter football stadia. Consequently criminal law is still applicable and we fully support the clubs and police in addressing ALL forms of racial and religious prejudice and discrimination. We would also emphasize that creating conditions whereby patriotic expression is permitted, tolerated and respected in sport and wider society with the exception of Irishness, or indeed any culture relating to nationhood, is not only racist, but is not conducive to a harmonious and egalitarian society in Scotland.

Although we do not envisage any changes in legislation we would encourage supporters to keep updated with the SPL Unacceptable Conduct, Celtic Football Clubs stadium regulations and Scottish law, all of which can be accessed online. Additionally we feel it would be beneficial for travelling supporters to view individual clubs stadium regulations prior to away fixtures.

The pictures below have been reproduced with the permission of the Irish Government, we would like to extend our gratitude for this.

For any media inquiries around this matter then please contact: contact@cici.org.uk