The teachable moment.

This time last week Paul McBride QC would have known that someone meant him significant harm. That is not a nice place to be. He is in my thoughts. His statement about not being bullied or silenced by this act of terrorism has been courageous and inspirational.

I had first been informed by a good source last week end (16th April) that Paul McBride QC had received a live bomb in the post. I tweeted the information with an “Unconfirmed” warning attached to it. I then started to dig.

By the Tuesday of this week (20thApril) I had, as they say in the trade, “stood up” the story with three independent sources.

The story was bigger than first I had suspected. In fact Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Scottish MSP Trish Godman had also received live bombs in the post. The “hoax” device that had been sent to Lennon had in fact been a viable IED.

The second of the three sources told me that a couple of Scottish papers were “sitting on” the story.

It was, I was told, because of police advice. However, this wasn’t a kidnap. I didn’t see the sense in this news blackout. If anything I thought publicity would make people more vigilant and allow the police to make a public request for witnesses. I consulted with a couple of trusted journalist friends, one of them an ex-editor. In the end it was my decision.

I decided to go with the story. I uploaded a short news piece on the basics on Wednesday 20th April at 8.45pm local time by 11.00pm the Main stream media in Scotland and then across the UK and internationally were  running the story.

The story went global.  By end of play on Wednesday I was congratulated by senior members of the National Union of Journalists for “breaking the censorship.”

As a journalist my starting point is always to see what my trade does. We are the creators of history’s first rough draft. Here the Herald’s headline on the Lennon story is a tad misleading.

This unfortunate subbing didn’t escape Roy Greenslade’s attention in his Guardian media column.

Roy has a sturdy moral compass on the ethics of the media. He is unequivocal that I took the correct journalistic decision to break the story.

As I have worked on the story since Tuesday I have become aware that the police resources deployed on this case are much greater than it was a week ago.

In the many years I have been covering these issues I have wondered at what point Scottish society reaches its “teachable moment”.

At what stage does the political class and civic leadership realise that there is a problem of a white underclass attached to Rangers FC?

When will the leadership of Scotland decide that this anti-Catholic anti-Irish bile is a societal pathogen that has to be tackled, faced down and, as a belief system, eradicated?

The UK can no longer afford the baubles of Empire and modern Scotland cannot afford the Trailer Trash of its long gone global imperium to dominate the nation’s discourse.

After the riots of Manchester in 2008 Graham Spiers wrote that a “White Underclass” had attached itself to the club.

Graham Spiers, himself from a Rangers background and the son of a Baptist minister, has been a constant, morally driven thorn in the side of those who wish to return to the old days in Scotland when the Irish knew their place.

In October 6 2008 he said:

“There is only one cure for the white underclass which has attached itself to Rangers. If I may quote Tony Blair (otherwise no great hero of mine): education, education, education.”

Again in November 9 2009

“But the “diehards” — those who love all the medieval chants and the faux-Protestant dressing around the club — certainly feel under some kind of cultural threat in Scotland. The white underclass of Rangers — I will put it no more offensively than that — feels put-upon and there is a direct link between their siege mentality and some of these repeated disturbances over the years. It is a galling image for the club to try to rectify.”

The three targets of these bombs symbolise a collective threat to the worldview of the Rangers Underclass that Graham writes about.

Lennon is an “uppity Fenian” from central casting. A dominant warrior on the field of play for Celtic. He is now also shaping up to be a decent manager. A Catholic from Lurgan in the worldview of the Famine song choir he is the punch cartoon figure of the Irish ape with the bomb.

Of course it is he who it threatened with bombs.

Paul McBride QC symbolises that the days of professional job discrimination against people on the basis of religion are, thankfully a thing of the past.  McBride‘s eloquent tradecraft has bested the Scottish Football Association when defending Lennon and Celtic around a touchline ban. Using their own rulebook he made them look foolish and inept.

Trish Godman’s “crime” was to wear a Celtic top into the Scottish parliament.

Once more she is a symbol that all is not well in the world from the vantage point of the Rangers underclass.

The three of them, by their existence, tells the Rangers underclass whether in Scotland or in the Six Counties that their day has gone.

Now in 2011 we see the result of that underclass remaining unchallenged by the soccer authorities and the Scottish political class.

Their resolve has grown, with each passing fixture as the “Billy Boys “and the “Famine song” is heard with impunity they feel more and more empowered and authorised. Only UEFA seems willing to act and discipline them into civilised norms.

Have we reached the point in Scotland where these deviant beliefs of a post imperial substratum are called out and tackled?

Since I broke the nail bomb story this week the world’s media has been shining a light on Scotland’s shame.  Scottish journalists in the mainstream media in Scotland have complained of their “embarrassment” as they have fielded calls about the Lennon story from around the world.   Indeed they should be embarrassed. Once more it takes a journalist outside the country to break a story of huge relevance to Scotland.In February I asked a leading Scottish sports journalist: “had you been in possession of the Dallas email would you have broken the story?”  He didn’t answer.  Although I broke the silence on the Nail Bomb story the media black out on me continues. As with the Dallas story  despite breaking the story my Irish name hasn’t been in any Scottish newspaper

The outside world can see Scotland’s  problem clearly for what it is.

I fear that those in charge in Scotland still do not.

I fear we may not yet have reached Scotland’s moment to learn, but I hope I am wrong.

68 thoughts on “The teachable moment.

  1. Jimbo

    See picture on todays papers of Neil Lennon cupping his ears as he is racialy abused… The it states the police will not be taking action against Lennon (as they had received complaints)… Need I say more about the state of affairs in this country…. Surely the police can pick out one or two of the perpetrators… Maybe too much to ask…! Suddenly it seem the MINORITY who raise these bogotted chants every other week at ibrox are not such a minority…..

  2. watp

    how is “fenian b******S” sectarian? can u not answer that question? oh u will condemn any sectarian singing from the tim support? im certain phil macgiollabhain wont!! u say lennon gets stick at every ground? so is it rangers’ supporters at every ground?? now i think death threats and parcel bombs are a disgrace to say the very least. you must wonder how he gets so much stick? part of it is obviously being an irish catholic but his attitude when playin and managing can be a disgrace as well. do u remember him spitttin on a rangers scarf and shouting “orange b*****s?” now im sure he isnt the first man to get stick whilst playin and his reaction just poured fuel on the fire. again i will say no one deserves to get put through what lennon has been put through in recent weeks. were u so quick to condemn thugs that threatened goram, novo, ferguson or beasley? maybe u did but im nearly sure phil mac wouldnt have condemned it!!!
    waitin for your next one sided response BRENDAN!!!!!!!!!

    1. Ralf

      These 2 Old Firm teams feed off one another, the Manager of Glasgow Celtic FC, who holds a highly paid responsible job, should really have more dignity, hes played in the Old Firm fixture long enough to know that any actions on the field can trigger off supporters.

      Afterwards i heard the manager saying it was a joke, i remember Paul Gascoigne used to joke in Old Firm games, he was a player, i didnt think i would ever see any Manager at an Old Firm game trying to wind up fans.

      i thought a highly paid manager of a big club would know better.

      1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

        He has been under enormous stress over the past few months.
        Unprecendented in British soccer I would have thought.
        Safe Houses, bombs in the post.
        Think for a second about the human angle on this.
        Because that is how the rest of the world is viewing this.

  3. Andy fitzpatrick

    The next person that says catholic schools are to blame just remind them why we have them in the first place.

  4. educated and pursuing

    Hi Phil,
    I have been following your blogs for many weeks, an absolute education. Asda (Motherwell) has been brought to my attention tonight, they have asked Celtic BC(under 17’s bag packing) to leave after sustained complaints from NOT ONLY CUSTOMERS but STAFF. This is indicitive of the societal reproach toward Irish-Scottish Catholics in this land of so called equality. Disgusting.

  5. Finnharp30


    After the bhoys win on Sunday and we win the SPL this year, I think you should take a week or two out and write a book about the year that changes Scottish Football (For better or worse), we have yet to determine..

    Hail Hail
    Only honest men will prevail….

  6. Steve

    Convincing Rangers fans by persuasion not to sing these kind of songs is futile. Their cultural filters are so coloured and value laden that when presented, even with the most damning evidence, instead of using logic, they tend to rationalise their behaviour.
    Instead what the authorities and those within Rangers with the will to change need to do is to frame the benefits of change in their cultural language.
    I read recently an article that dealt with scepticism in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and the summary could just as well be applied to Rangers supporters as to climate change sceptics………..You don’t lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.

  7. William

    I am still waiting on an answer as to why there was not an equail amount of condemnation for the Murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr. I was proud to see the GAA and the Police come together with Unionist and Nationalis politicians. The people on this site jump on the band wagon and seek to throw petrol on the fire of an extreamly volatile situation. We should be seeking to build bridges between the 2 communities rather than stoking hate like we see on this site.

    1. Lord Wobbly

      If everyone put as much effort into stopping the bile as they do pointing out the wrongs of others simply to justify their own actions, then maybe we could actually improve the situation. Stop singing bile. Stop talking bile. You don’t need lists of banned songs. You what is sung to incite the other side. STOP SINGING IT. EVERYBODY! STOP INCITING HATRED. Why is that so difficult?

    2. Ian Ferguson

      I think no one has answered because it is not part of the blog and no one wishes to get into a debate about murder in Ulster.

      I and every right thinking person deplore his death the same as we were appalled when a rabble wearing rangers shirts kicked and stamped an innocent Catholic to death in their “celebrations” of RFC winning the SPL.

      These deplorable murders took place in the Six Counties, and as such are for that community to resolve between them, peacefully, I hope.

      Scotland is already tainted with this sectarian neo nazi we arra peepel cr*p and I can only see it getting worse if not brought under control.

      I would like to see all the orange marches in scotland BANNED, this would be a big step in curtailing the knuckledraggers.

      Maybe then we begin to see change, in fact ban them in the six counties too and try and heal the wounds.

      The hurt on both sides will Never heal while a gerrymandered majority continue with their domineering and intimidatory marches.

  8. Adrian

    Excellent piece, well written, thank you.

    I’m interested that when such a media spotlight hits Scotland and the old-firm all the usual cliches get wheeled out to stretch their legs such as the two sets of fans being separated along, political, religeous and cultural lines. I believe ‘fault-line’ is the current term of favour.

    Well, ok, I’m Catholic and Irish decent and follow Celtic, but I cannot stand the political Left.

    I’m sure I’m not unique in hating ‘loyalists’ but being politically on the right, wanting a united Ireland but holding the Queen in high regard ?

    You know, I think what you’ve hit on in your piece deals with this. It’s about a flabby, stupid underclass representing the whole and not about the true rangers fan. Wouldn’t it be nice to think they’re a silent majority.

    Wishful thinking perhaps.

  9. joebhoy

    Phil to be brutally honest if They (Scroatish Media) do start to name check you I would be wondering if you’d sold out! You’re undoubtedly and unequivocally a Tour de force against the Editors and sub-editors who have been controlling the narrative for too long- or allowing themselves to be puppets and propaganda merchants for Moonbeam Inc.
    There has to be a root n branch clear out of the old guard the SFA and their Media darlings; hopefully new Media can expose and indeed highlight the intransigence and malevolence in their reporting particularly regarding Neil Lennon. Make no mistake Neil’s tribulations lay squarely at the door of these so-called purveyors of News, they have demonised Neil since day dot and whenever he has been involved in any sort of negative behaviour it has been blown up out of all relative context….

    You don’t need validation from these cretins Phil; No doubt these hacks wake up in cold sweats knowing their not in control of the narrative anymore; maybe they’ll change and stop churnalising the same OLD narrative from the same OLD dinosaurs…we can but hope….

    Have a good Easter Phil you deserve it!

    1. Steve

      Adrian, good point. The New Media that Phil is part of is a direct challenge to the old guard – the Ancien Regime – of Scottish media.
      I do think that there is code of honour ‘amongst’ journalists that is generally respected, otherwise, from my experience of reading trash in Scotland for decades, Phil’s card would be marked – so to speak – by those looking to discredit his good work.

  10. watp

    hey brendan

    what do you think in the celtic support showing their support for the IRA? do you turn a blind eye to that? oh and did you actually see what i wrote earlier when i said is it ok for the celtic fan’s to chant “orange b*****s?” what about “go home you huns?” personally i dont find these offensive but how can the celtic support find “fenian b******s” offensive then? or is it just a case of trying to harm rangers??????

    1. brendan melvin

      Hey WATP

      Why are you so obsessed with finding out my response to anything the Celtic support may or may not chant – why not take this moment to define yourself…..

      For instance I was at Rugby Park on wednesday – there was no ooh ahh up the ra, (as reported in the Daily Rangers) there was ooh ahh samaras….but hey why let the facts get in the way of a good bit of whataboutery, they are just as bad as us, et al.

      If it makes ye happy WATP I’ll happily condemn any sectarian singing from Celtic supporters, it makes me sick….

      There ye go, that ok?

    2. brendan melvin

      Now that you have my clear and unequivocal condemnation of any sectarian singing coming from Celtic’s support – I’ll make this point, this is now escalated to become far more than about singing, that is UEFA’s concern after years of inactivity from the SFA…… You see this week WATP someone wanted to kill Neil Lennon, a lawyer, a politician and we found out that a Catholic clergyman was the intended recipient of a bomb round about the time of the Pope’s visit in 2010….

      So we have moved the debate from singing to attempted murder and more evidence of deep rooted anti catholic bigotry in this country.

      Our manager has done nothing more than any other in this country, let’s be clear his problem is he is a Catholic from Northern Ireland who stands his corner…

      No other manager has been attacked twice in the street, both attacks were sectarian in nature, has had to endure sectarian abuse in whatever wee Scottish football ground he goes to, has had a panic alarm inserted in his home, has his partner, child and himself under constant surveillance….

      Did you hear what Walter Smith (a great man) said yesterday? – so why are you so concerned about what terms are offensive and how Celtic chants are as bad…UEFA will deal with that.

      Scotland stands at a precipice, potential catastrophe or….. it could have a moment of definition, that was the point in Phil’s teachable moment piece – what’s your thoughts on that WATP?

    3. Ralf

      i would just to point out to you Brendan, you say Neil Lennon receives sectarian abuse at every Scottish ground he plays at, this is simply not true, if you’ve ever read Neil Lennon’s book, he mentions fans and grounds that he likes which are in Scotland.

  11. Stephen Talman

    I have to take issue with the thrust of those who believe that this problem can be solved simply by increasing the powers of an already tainted police and legal system.

    This will imho be a mostly superficial public relations driven non-event that will hardly scratch the surface of the real underlying problem of loyalist-inspired ‘sectarianism’ and anti-Irish/anti-Catholic hatred.

    As a lawyer Paul McBride has a somewhat blind faith in the ability of the law to provide a solution to this problem. In his interview with the BBC it is interesting that he named everyone – (the clubs, the managers, the players, the police, the courts, the politicians) – that is everyone, except those with the power to make the necessary changes – THE FANS.

    Any ‘solution’ that does not involve the supporters as its main component is not a solution, it’s a smokescreen for a more authoritarian approach by the authorities of football, government and the law.

    No matter how any of us here feel about the fans of ran.gers, ultimately this issue can only be addressed and solved by a sea-change within their support. It is finding those in their own fanbase who are prepared to stand up publicly and consistently against racism, fascism and loyalism that will be the hardest task of all, but if we are to be politically consistent we must continue to call for and hope that the ‘silent minority’ among them will become a vocal and proactive majority.

    I am not in favour of the draconian solution of simply locking people up for what they write or what they think… In regard to actual attacks and incitement, obviously there are exceptions, and where someone is actively involved in turning internet fantasies into reality they should be dealt with by the full force of the law.

    However, legal solutions have little effect on cultural, religious and political perceptions, which are deep-rooted and ingrained. The real solution lies in finding ways to reach out and/or isolate this alienated section of the ran.gers support, without pandering to their odious fascistic views.

    1. Ian Ferguson


      If ever proof was needed that some of you will not change, You are making a very good job of providing it, guys like you will sink your team, the sooner the better.

      Go ON YerSelf, Deflect and Deny if it makes you feel better.

      But do US a favour, GO AWAY away and do it on the DR or some other crappy paper.

  12. Tom Gallagher

    There might be some journalists who take a look at this post and who,seeing the genuine respect that you are held in, feel a pang of regret, for preferring to act as performing seals, offering a timid, formulaic and sometimes slanted account of why football in Scotland has become a lightning conductor for so much social menace.

    Tomorrow, the Kingfish, aka as the First Minister has publicly asked Neil Lennon and Walter Smith to go through the
    motions, pre-kick-off and show thir mutual regard. This is the kind of vacuous gesture beloved of politicians who wish to show their engagement when everyone is watching but who refuse to do the heavy-lifting thereafter.

    It would probably be toomuch to ask Mr Salmond to walk to the centre of the park and offer a Gettysburg address in which he owned up to his own sins of omission when confronting sectarianism ( I refer to his government’s attempt to drive out of existence the sole anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth in 2008 by withholding public funding). perhaps he might even ask his election rivals to join him and make a promise to devote energy to tackling the violence, low-level but sometimes vicious and scary, that stalks many lower-income communities and city and town centres in urban Scotland.

    Such a show of cameraderie among fierce rivals would I think make a real impresssion but it would involve the First Minister getting out of his comfort zone. All the signs are that Neil Lennon and Walter Smith do not need to demonstrate that they are reasonable people, so i am sorry for them that they are being put through this charade.

    When Mr Salmond thinks of sectarianism, he of course usually draws attention to the 18th century act which prevents the heir to the throne marrying a Catholic. For sure this is an unacceptable anachronism but it is also a whopping red herring.
    From the summit on sectarianism in March to his breezy claim a few days ago that deadly violence only emanates from ‘the lunatic fringe of the lunatic fringe’, his latest gesture is just an effort to park a massive social problem in a politically convenient place and derive some momentum for the electoral exercise which has been his main preoccupation even before the camapign officially started.
    his current

  13. Tony Cassidy

    Phil – God Bless you, sir. Another gem ! And a Happy Easter to you and yours. Thanks again, for everything. Tony, Glasgow.

  14. watp

    when have u ever seen mccoist act like he did in that old firm sc replay???? lennon has done it on a few occasions this season. constantly questionin referees. wot do u think of lennon spitting on a rangers scarf and shouting “orange bastards” during an old firm game? bet u see that as being acceptable! now rangers are getting punished for remarks about fenians. supposedly it is sectarian to chant fenian b******s. now i believe im correct in sayin that celtic fans chant “paddy mccourt’s fenian army.” so its not sectarian then? u just couldnt make it up!!!!

    1. Shiltrum

      What these people fail to see is when they sing these songs of hate in glasgow/Scotland and then find themselves on foreign soil they dont take into account that their auditorium now has millions of people within it and they dont care what kind of advertisement this is for Scotland they just carry on reguardless after all they are ra peepul.

  15. Charlie D

    For an example of deep seated anti-irishness you should check out George Galloway’s interview in Radio Scotland’s ‘Off the Ball’ a few months ago, when the gruesome twosome were all over him like a rash. It was a fawning and sycophantic performance. Until that is, George gave us a quote (which I wish I could remember verbatim) about the combination of strong Scottish and Irish traits which moulded James Connolly. It was a pretty innocuous quote, not expressing any political sentiment. It was quite clear that Stuart and ‘Tam’ welcomed this quote like a fart in a phonebox and passed swiftly on without comment.

    So is it not ‘good form’ on Radio Scotland to mention anyone who helped their country take its place among the nations as a modern independent state, or does that just apply if the country happens to be Ireland?

  16. Ralf

    We’re living in difficult times, there are big problems with people being unable to get a job, and big problems being able to get affordable rented concil houses, people are often on a housing waiting list for many many years before being offered a house.

    We are hearing politicians admiting that emigration needs to be tackled, and it was Gordon Brown prime minister who said in last years election British jobs for British people.

    I think with the hardship facing a lot of people, theres a sense of frustration, and one of the reasons that sadly this is happening.

    1. Ian Ferguson


      What the feck kind of excuse was that?

      Times are hard, Kill/Abuse/Threaten a TAIG! It will make you feel better.

      a party political broadcast on behalf of the loyalist knuckledraggers “WE ARRA PEEPEL” Party, marching in your district soon.

  17. Mick11

    Wow, what a great piece phil.

    Social commentary at it’s very best.

    Scotlands teachable moment is a long way off I rekon.It’s far too deep rooted, those who don’t want to learn won’t.

  18. AussieBhoy

    Great article Phil. However I can’t agree that the hatred is perpetuated by a white underclass. Quite the opposite in fact. I believe it goes right to the very top of Scottish society, and always has done.

    1. Ian Ferguson

      I have mentioned this before but the more I see and hear the more relevant it is.

      One of the 1st times I commented on “daftie” guys , no education, no actual facts just an anti catholic rant, I received a reply from a professional employed in the medicine.

      He pointed out that I was decrying “Billy fae Brigton” but “WILLIAM from Bearsden” was more insidious!

      W is educated and determined to keep you down/out, whether it be in jobs, clubs etc.

      W permeates the levels where decisions are made… including the ones against Neil Lennon and the ones where action is declined.

      W is active, politically, when RFC is completely out of order but no action is taken until it can be classed as an “OLD FIRM” issue, both to blame.

      Until you can change W, “Billy fae Brigton” will get the focus and the blame.

      Who is causing the most problems to modernisation & integration William or billy?

  19. bert

    Catholic schooling’s clearly the problem here!

    According to that journalistic heavyweight Lorraine Kelly in he Sun colum that is; Yes that same smiley faced Dundee Hibernian supporter believes there lies the issue.

    Poular faces like ‘smiley Lorraine’ are ever bit as dangerous as any long-standing ill-informed hack with ‘loyal’ readership, perhaps more so in appealing to the under-class.

    She sets focus on their next target!


    1. Ian Ferguson

      I have read this type of blame allocation quite a lot.

      an ex-senior member of the SFA says WE treated catholics as the enemy because they went to seperate schools.

      I have read about it being APARTHEID, as if somehow, catholic education makes the rest of the country 2nd class. If Apartheid labels can be applied in scotland they would be applied on the opposite direction.

      Catholics? UNDERCLASS in LAW, try having a Law whereby you would LOSE your right to succession to a countries monarchy if you married a Muslim/Jew/Any other religion EXCEPT Catholic.

      The Gov of the day would Decry the outdated law, change it, apologise etc. Anti Catholic Law in Britain… IGNORE IT… It’s TRADITION.

      Catholic schools exist because Catholics were Banned from the existing schools and had to start their own. they were integrated into the system at a later date.

      Underclass in the APPLICATION of the law, today arrests were made concerning internet abuse. Two people were mentioned Lennon & Douif, the police spokesman said it was an easy thing to action… YEARS of ABUSE and threats for LENNON with NO ACTION, sooo it’s only easy if you WANT to act on it.

      I read the DR today, Jim Traynor, of the GO and it’s only banter fame has completely changed HIS tune, he is starting to tell the knuckledraggers it’s not on… BETTER LATE THAN NEVER…

      For the record I would prefer Integrated schools, BUT only when the, underlying problems of Irish/RC 2nd class citizenship are sorted out…. Sooo No integrated schools soon then?

  20. Tom Gallagher

    I think you draw together many of the threads of the story in a cool-headed way.

    It is also right to focus attention on the complacent and coterie-ridden nature of Scottish journalism (with some notable exceptions like Graham Spiers). Large swathes of the print and electronic media have resolutely refused to carry out their basic journalistic functions and document the violence, intolerance, and contempt for the law that is to be found by any cursory examination of the underbelly of Scottish society (and not just in the West).

    it is ironic that intrepid people across the Middle East are risking their lives to acquire the freedoms which news, editors, managers and hacks in the Scottish media carelessly toss to one side in their everyday approach to their jobs.

    I sometimes suspect that if your common or garden Scottish media chappie got advance warning of an asteroid hurtling towards some corner of Scotland, he would keep stum until getting the all clear from those who pulled the strings in the networks where he moved that it was alright to run the story. For the sake of politeness, i can only brand them an utterly Lilliputian lot; whether Scotland will be less like Liliput after the 5 May elections is a very open question – I for one am not holding my breath.

  21. brendan melvin

    Great piece Phil – it does however make for depressing reading. I have been around these parts all of my life but for a brief sojourn in England. I am not sure that there is any real will here to tackle this problem.

    Fot that to happen takes the courage of real recognition – “we have a problem and it stems from …..”

    Instead authority representative after representative whether they be from the political arena or from the wider media insist on infantilising the problem. It’s either a “small minority” (we know it’s not) or it’s an “old firm problem” (we know it’s not)

    We have had the customary blah blah soundbites from these people this week, it’ll be interesting to see what comes from their moral outrage.

    Only Graham Spiers and your good self emerge with any credit or credibility within or outwith the media – being prepared to put your head above the parapet. Had you not broke this story we are entitled to ask when the mainstream would have?

    Incredibly, there are still some within the media here who continue to imply that Neil has been caught up in some michief that he has in some way at least part-authored.

    We even had to read a story yesterday that had an air of triumphalism regarding an apology from Paul McBride to the SFA and Stuart Regan specifically…

    You could not make it up…or rather you could

    The link between what happens in the old firm arean and society in general is close and in this respect the media and establishment treatment of the recent Old Firm Shame Game provides a near perfect example of this (un)comfortable inertia.

    Consider the facts – 8 Rangers players booked, 3 sent off, one of whom man-handles the ref on 2 occasions, the other refuses to leave the pitch on the advice of the ref and stewards and police. There is an altercation between Neil and McCoist (sorry just replaying the opposite of the names normally used) the latter having to be dragged back by his manager earlier in the game. The Rangers fans sang their bile throughout…..

    Neil Lennon acknowledges his wrong doing and is banned for 4 games. Further the SFA attempt to pursue the execution of his ban by not following their own rules until we have the intervention of McBride. Meanwhile the media figures come out to defend McCoist – “he’s not like that” we hear, this is all about what happened in prior matches, Ali was only looking out for his team and his players…blah followed by more blah…. McCoist, Bougherra and Diouff escape…

    We then have to hear the political elite pontificate and showcase a meaningless summit, pat themselves on the back etc and I am wondering why were Celtic called to that.

    We have our Justice Minister praise the fans at the cup final during which the Rangers fans indulged in sectarian singing that was virtually non-stop – you could not make it up, or rather you could….

    And there you have it Phil – and why this is quite so depressing – If this was an issue of white underclass and white underclass only, education would be a solution. I’d suggest though it runs deeper than that – you are quite right in speculating what the three victims may well represent but to whom?

  22. Charlie Duffin

    Remarkable piece of subjective journalism,well written and very informative,keep up the good work.

  23. Aodhan

    I would make two points Phil.

    Part of the reason for the problem’s persistence is that it is not just a white underclass that is bigoted, nor is it a west of Scotland problem.

    There is a lot of the silent bigotry that goes on amongst what passes for the better educated. There are legal and accoutancy firms even today where Catholics would be wasting their time waiting for advancement and there are some notorious private clubs in Edinburgh where “papes” would simply not be welcome.

    Secondly, “education, education, education” – you are so right but the bigots and the secularists have seized on this opportunity to call once again for an end to Catholic schooling in Scotland. The key points here are:-
    1. Catholic schools are the only remaining schools with a Christian ethos; in the name of multi-culturalism non-denominational schools have dropped things like assembly, uniforms etc. and are now a “one size fits all”

    2. I don’t believe bigotry is taught or practised in ANY school in Scotland, denominational or not, so the bigotry must come from education at home.

    3. If the Greens and the Secularists see Catholic shools as devisive, what about private schools?
    I still laugh at Kirsty Wark on Newsnight telling how awful it was to be separated from her best pal at the end of the street as her pal went to the Catholic school in Ayr.
    Aye, Kirsty, while you went to the private fee-paying Wellington School for Girls, which most parents in Ayr probably couldn’t have afforded….

    So let’s hear if it is just the Catholic schools that are to be targeted for closure or is it all schools that separate children at a young age?

    With an election coming up, these are questions people should be putting to politicians, especially the Lib Dems and the Greens.

    I liked the Roy Greenslade comment – I had missed it but from now on I will be choosing a quality daily paper other than the Herald.

  24. croybhoy

    Congratulations Phil on another excellent piece of journalism.
    Keep it up and you may reach the heights of the recently announced’journalist of the year’ who spoke of ‘CRISISES’ this week on radio!!
    I hope you are not surprised or dissappointed not to have recieved any plaudits with a name like that!!
    Hail Hail

  25. Endbigotryinscotland

    Phil you are clearly passionate about your work and seek out reviews in an attempt I assume to improve it’s quality. I would love you to review this piece with your own critical eye and try and form some self awareness as to how the language used here highlights your own prejudices. Using phrases like ‘trailer trash’ and ‘White underclass’ when describing the rangers support may be crowd pleasers for the extremist bigoted element of the Celtic support but for the majority it undermines any point you try to make.

  26. Ronnie

    Very informative site you have Phil,please continue to let us know what’s really going on in our sad wee country.

  27. Letterkenny

    fair play to you Phil…story had to be broken..the more publicity it gets the better the chance of some action actually being taken – ps you may want to check out David Leggat’s blog, seems he does not like you that much – cant even spell your name or Donegal

  28. Andy fitzpatrick

    Perhaps you could do a piece on why Catholics are shunted in to criminal law and not the more lucrative chamber practises,you could ask mcbride and beltrami there opinion.
    Then you could do a piece on how catholic refs got on in the 70s and 80s and why not many came through,you could pick any decade but the 70-80s will do,
    I think the SFA,s signing policy matched that of rangers.

  29. Tommy B

    Please continue to expose this continued treatment of everything Irish in Scotland. The people who perpetrate these acts must be weeded out; this can only happen when good people speak out and point out the would be terrorists. Phil you are to be commended for your work, you may not receive recognition from the mainstream media, but what you do is valued by all who really care. Journalists all over Scotland must be embarrassed every time they hear that you are releasing a story.

  30. dave

    Fabtastic Phil,
    I dont think I have to add anything to your piece , that your last couple of sentences say it all.


  31. James Miller

    I hope you are wrong too! I come from a typical London mongrel background of Jewish, Huguenote and Devon roots, with a touch of Irish thrown in. I myself have no religion and have spent most of my 60-odd years in London, Liverpool and Suffolk.

    So your post was a good education to me about the problems in Glasgow. I support Ipswich and the town, club and the suppoters never want to see either of the Glasgow clubs in the town again. The last was a friendly a couple of years ago against Rangers and the atmosphere was anything but friendly. Speaking to opposing fans in my travels around the UK, this is very much a general English opinion. We have had our problems with violence in the past, but if Spurs and Arsenal can play a really exciting game as they did last week with virtually no violent incidents on or off the pitch, then this is what all sensible football fans want as the norm.

    I have a feeling that unless Glasgow sorts itself out, then the sensible fans of the clubs will desert them, just as sensible fans in England, deserted clubs after the violence of the 1970s.

    So the violence must be solved both around the football clubs and in the city, otherwise two of Scotland’s most famous institutions will wither and die.

    1. Tony Cassidy

      James Miller – I note that the unfriendly atmosphere that you refer to at Ipswich related to RANGERS fans.

    2. Ralf

      What you’ll find James is that with a section of Celtic and Rangers supporters, they are just as bad as one another as far as bigotry is concerned, i dont want you thinking that Glasgow is a bad place for football, there is a club who play in Glasgow, a lot of their fans who are fed up with the Old Firm bigotry support, and the team is Partick Thistle, they are in the Scottish first division at the moment, but one day could be in the top league in Scotland, Glasgow needs a top alternative team to the Old Firm.



    Your article is good, but I believe the lumpen element would still be with us even if Rangers went bust. The problem is a certain proto-fascist organisation who are about to take to the streets soon for the better weather is upon us. Until they are treated like the KKK by society then the coat-draggers will still have the confidence to take to the streets. And they will simply join another team. Have you seen the reaction Celtic players and staff get at Hearts, Falkirk, Dundee, Motherwell, Airdrie etc?

  33. Wullie

    Phil , well done. Part of the problem we face in Scotland is this constant ‘whataboutery’ and the mantra from the media and the establishment that we are different sides of the same coin. This is clearly shown in this paragraph from the Herald.

    “It was also reported last night that police are to raid the homes of people involved in Old Firm internet hate campaigns.
    An operation to target more than 50 people posting racial and religious hate comments about stars such Lennon and Rangers striker El Hadji Diouf will take place ahead of tomorrow’s match”.

    With the best will in the world how the hell can you tie in EHD with what Neil Lennon is suffering?

    Prominent people in Scotland have used “this goes beyond football” as a comfortable sound bite when addressing the media. Ironically if you take on board that paragraph from The Herald it’s true. This goes right to the heart of Scottish society.

    This is only the first part of the beginning of the end of institutional bigotry in Scotland.

    Still a long way to go.

  34. Kev

    Phil, great read as ever. Do you accept the fact that a media blackout of your work in Scotland is probably more for commercial reasons than individual or even proprietal bias. This for me is at the root of the problem, and some would say always has been. The sectarianism ‘sells’ because of the the scale of it. The media don’t teach anything else because they risk losing their Market. It’s a self perpetuating problem.



  35. dominic

    Good article Phil, it got me thinking of a conversation Bruce Lee had with someone who wanted to join his gym, it went something like this, “Mr lee can you Teach me that style of fighting you do” ? “If you are Teachable” said Lee. Im afraid Phil that the rangers underclass are not Teachable.

  36. Steve

    Phil. Learning, that is, psychologically behavioural modification through experience or conditioning in a fractured cultural environment, takes tremendous force of will.

    Volition, as we know, is what is sadly lacking in Scotland.

    I can see no grass roots level change until Rangers FC ban thousands from their grounds using CCTV evidence when songs like the Famine Song are sung.

    Only then would those capable of change, even grudging change, would refrain from their refrains.

  37. colin bradybhoy

    Fantastic article phil and i cant believe you arent working for or mentioned in any scottish papers with your breaking stories and truthful account of breaking news that most scottish red tops would go mad for,i see that some are starting to come out a bit more now but what has it took?Neil lennon to receive his 2/3rd bomb in the post along with3other players,politician and a qc who are only affiliated to celtic and the catholic church,i hope u would be able to publish your own paper,maybe weekly and get it over here in Glasgow as i know many many people are talking about your great work,keep it up phil,we are all neil lennon!

  38. jmbhoy67

    Phil, thanks for this!! Succinctly put, if the Scottish media and local police force had highlighted this in tune with you it may have never got to this position. The fact that Cardinal Keith O’Brien received a threat last September and we are only now hearing of the threat speaks volumes!

    Keep up the “Great” work.



    Phil you bring a breath of fresh air to Scottish journalism sadly may I say from out with Scotland. Although truth be told we here in Scotland live in a country of oppression and anti Irish racism fully condone by the Scottish media. Scottish journalism will at some time in the future start to learn their trade and be more professional and start to report the truth.

  40. jony williams

    What are you on about Phil, as you should know by now one is as bad as the other … to the back of the bus you go ….. And do not look at me ……… BOW!!

  41. Prionsa Eoghan


    I fully expext the next SNP government to take a much much stronger line than the generic ‘old firm’ or ‘sectarianism’ catch all blame no-one line that is the currency of Scottish society at present.

    The mood of the country is ready, only the unreconstructed will get a shock when the blame is attached where it belongs. Next stop redemption and education. i have been making the case all week that stronger words were needed, which were forthcoming today from Salmond.

    Change is here!

  42. obonfanti1888

    Great piece phil, sadly i share the pessimism of your last line; the bigoted attitudes are so entrenched and the discourse on “sectarianism” so blurred within Scotland that I truly doubt we will see any meaningful improvement for a long time. far too many people in scotland simply refuse to acknowledge that scotland has a problem.

    put it this way, if i ever have kids, scotland is the last place i’d want to raise them which saddens me but who would want to in a country where the catholic faith is habitually mocked and abused, its schools blamed for the ignorance of others, where wearing a celtic top is enough to get a bomb in the post or indeed, in the tragic case of Mark Scott, enough to get you murdered.

    i have no doubt however that the festering sore of bigotry endemic in scotland has been exposed to the world at large, in no small part due to your relentless work. a Brazilian friend of mine has just sent me an email expressing his shock and horror at what is happening to Neil Lennon and has even said that “he is absolutely a celtic fan now”!

    Hail Hail Phil

  43. Ian Ferguson


    that encompasses what a lot of us ordinary guys have tried to say and have been po-hood as paraniod, Both The Same etc.

    I still don’t expect a level playing field, even after all that has gone on.

    I think Easter Sunday’s game will be an opportunity to “level” things the other way… I expect to be Equally to Blame by Monday mmorning.

    You have made great inroads, Keep it Up… We will get there eventually… MLK said we will overcome… and WE will.

  44. Frank Devine

    It has taken bombs to be sent to Neil Lenon before this entire episode was reported in the media. They will not be happy until (God forbid), Lennon has a nervous breakdown. That is what these fascistic animals are attempting to do. I work with a guy from Carrickfergus and I really like him. But he is blind to this feckin hatred. He said to me on Tuesday that O’Neill was loved by the ‘Northern Ireland’ support so it must be something to do with Lennon. I said to him that Lennon was OK with your mob when he played anywhere else bar Celtic. He could not get it because he is blind to the hatred. Walked into work yesterday and I was raging about the entire thing. He said nothing but if had opened his mouth I would have been sacked. They still think this is a joke and I am talking about so-called educated guys. It is defo not just the trailer trash…it is also white collar scum who ridicule the Irish in Scotland.

  45. Palacio67

    Hi Phil, I was online on Wednesday when you broke the news, and waited until it was let loose at 11oclock, but why did the Police, media and Politicians hold this back? Would it ever have came out if you never intervened ?
    The whole world is seeing what Scotland is really like in its intolerance to all things Catholics and Irish, lets see what they do to try to remedy this, big brush under the carpet. Nothing to see here Timmy…
    Still no Police arrests, even to the hate posters on Facebook/etc Disgrace.

    Keep up the good work Phil

  46. JPaul

    Firstly, you were absolutely correct to break the story. How was justice and criminal investigation served by keeping it quiet. Did anyone seriously believe that by keeping these facts concealed from the public that an investigation would be helped, I think not.

    Secondly, thank you for that piece, you are absolutely correct. It’s about time that the World started to really look at the anti-Catholic, anti-Irish microcosm we live in. maybe then the three monkeys of see no evil, hear no evil and say no evil will be forced to actually tackle the issues.

    I think the CIS final must be considered a turning point. The vitriol and bile which we all had to listen to, from the majority of the Rangers support finally put to death the myth that it was a minority. I think that the attempted murders of prominent Celtic figures subsequent to that have done the same with the “it’s only banter” myth.

    Thank you for reporting these issues and highlighting the reality of the situation. It’s not the minority, it’s not just banter. It is real threats that we have to live with.



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