I firmly applaud James Forrest’s allowing James Dornan MSP to guest write for The Celtic Blog.
James, in fairness, has allowed a variety of writers to air their views on this very platform and of course, on the much lauded On Fields Of Green, where I was a regular contributor.
I once wrote an article regarding Fergus McCann which frankly went down like a pork pie at a Jewish wedding. James, to his ultimate credit, backed me, whilst disagreeing with me.
The vitriol was damning but I stand by the piece.
Some would argue that politics and football aren’t the best mix.
But I disagree.
Football is the best platform for politics and of course, our very own Green Brigade is at the epicentre of most of this.
I find their politics hard to disagree with.
They, of course, vehemently opposed the appointment of Bernard Higgins, not for political reasons but for moral ones. This was a man, who was at the forefront of criminalising football fans.
Frankly, I believe they have good cause.
But let’s concentrate on James Dornan.
I find it reprehensible that an elected MSP should come out with some of these bewildering comments, but I refer back to James and his allowance of free speech. There is nothing wrong with letting people have a platform; the thing is, James also allows others to respond, and so I shall, in a manner which MSP Dornan will hopefully appreciate … I have rights too.
Dornan wrote, in his section on self-determination; “It is for the Irish people to decide, not a group of football fans, and it will be a political not sporting decision.”
Fair enough, but in the main, there’s a massive Irish diaspora in Glasgow who massively outweigh the Green Brigade as a section of Scottish society. They will certainly have a say in Irish unification, and many of them are, at Celtic, utilising the platform of sport to re-inforce the point.
The Green Brigade is a voice, but they are not alone in their thoughts.
The Irish are still a source of hatred here, as we’re all well aware. Catholicism widely associated with the Irish and Celtic is a source of unacceptance in Scotland.
He also mentions, however obliquely, the expressions of Catholic faith at our ground. Well, Catholic education, to this day, remains a source of discussion and debate; it is under severe threat and I don’t believe that it’s an exaggeration to say that.
Aside from a handful of commentators – one of whom is the excellent Kevin McKenna – who speaks up for us?
Celtic is not exclusively a Catholic club; the fans who sing those songs never pretended for one minute that it was.
Furthermore, Mr Dornan added: “I understand that some Celtic fans will disagree with my position, but interestingly, I hold this position, not because I don’t think there’s a place at Parkhead to celebrate our Irish culture; I do.”
Here in Scotland, we rightly support such festivals as Eid Mubarak but in the “best wee country in the world” those who sing songs of their beloved Ireland are continually demonised.
We’ve all heard this bollocks about how anyone who celebrates the Irish War of Independence is a terrorist. What about those who fought, and those celebrate, the Scottish Wars of Independence, Mr Dornan?
Terrorists? Terrorist lovers? Give me a break.
The Green Brigade to me, are a reminder of where this beloved club of ours came from and more power to them for continually hammering that point across.
I found the whole piece fairly condescending to the majority of Hoops fan who are of Irish descent, including myself. Does Mr Dornan forget absentee landlords, The Great Hunger and the ostracising of the Irish race in Scotland?
Does he recall that once we were targeted; “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish?”
It’s not for nothing, you know, that those who support Irish Republicanism understand the plight of the Palestinians and give generous support to Scotland’s refugee community.
Those of us who are familiar with our history and don’t shrink away from it, recognise their causes and their struggles because we can see them through the prism of our own.
Mr Dornan adds “If you really support Ireland then sing songs of it at a time of special celebration, Saint Patrick’s Day, or the anniversary of Irish independence or any other major event in Ireland’s cultural or political calendar.”
So as a support can we sing about Ireland’s culture or political calendar?
Does the political calendar include Bloody Sunday Massacre on 30 January 1972?
Can the 50th Anniversary be commemorated when Celtic face Dundee Utd on 29th January, 2022?
Perhaps James Dornan should be applauding the Green Brigade for their vociferous stance against Scotland’s elephant in the room; its anti-Irish rhetoric.
Which, by the way, is most commonly expressed by the uber-unionists, the great enemies of his own political cause.
I find it almost unbelievable that a man of James Dornan’s standing, position, age and background deems fit to legislate an attack on his own. That was his government. He cannot say “not in my name.”
Shame on you, Mr Dornan. Shame.
Gavin McCann is a long time contributor to The CelticBlog and was a senior editor of On Fields Of Green.