Trade Union Equality Officer is “Famine song” defender.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) reacted with horror when they learned that Stephen Smith their Principal Official for “Equality and Training” has tried to defend racist chanting by Rangers fans.

When I spoke to an NASUWT press officer he had no idea that Smith is currently the public face of the Rangers Supporters Trust (RST).

In 2008, at the height of the “Famine Song” controversy Stephen Smith, speaking as a representative of the RST, said in an interview with the Sun Newspaper that the reaction to fans singing The “Famine Song” was “completely over the top.”

The following year Lord Justice Carloway ruled in the High Court of Justiciary that the “Famine song” was indeed racist and aimed at people of Irish heritage in Scotland to go home to Ireland.

In 2009 the union nominated Smith as a judge on the prestigious Anne Frank Awards.

When this journalist spoke to Gillian Wallness the charity’s CEO she was horrified to find out that the NASUWT nominated judge was defending something like the “Famine Song” in his spare time.
Mr.Smith is well known to the inhabitants of the planet Scottish Football where he is often the public face of the Rangers Supporters Trust. Only last night (14/04/2011) he was on Sky Sports News discussing with Jim White Rangers most recent bit of European bother. On that interview the Equality Officer posed the question to Jim White:
“What is racism? What is sectarian? What is offensive?”
I hope Mr.Smith was more confident of these issues when on Thursday 9 July 2009 at the Holiday Inn, Bromsgrove an internal NASUWT document states:
“Organising for equalities
Stephen Smith, Principal Official, Equality and Training, ran an interactive session looking at how to organise for equalities using the Equalities Calendar. Delegates were asked to identify a month and come up with ideas and identify the resources they would use and develop an action plan.
The feedback discussion included:
• the need to ensure the anti-violence material and events covered all sections of members;
• young members’ engagement in equality;
• younger members’ engagement with the Union;
• broadening the categories of members to ‘new to teaching’;
• anti-semitism and antifascism to include Islamophobia;
• using the Stonewall Spell it out DVD for tackling all forms of bullying. “

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT said:
“The Union has a record second to none in promoting anti-racist policies, defending members against all forms of discrimination and campaigning against racist and fascist organisations.
The NASUWT condemns unequivocally any form of racist behaviour.
The Union’s rules make clear our anti-racist stance.
The Union’s contract of employment and codes of conduct for staff are equally clear on these matters.
The NASUWT disassociates itself fully from the ‘Famine Song’ and recognises the judiciary’s view that this song is racist.
In light of these reports, the Union will be conducting a thorough investigation into the allegations that have been made.”
Sources inside the union informed me that NASUWT due process should be completed within two weeks.

A spokesperson for the NASUWT further added:

“In response to media interest, Stephen Smith would like to make it clear that he recognises and accepts the judicial findings that what is known as “The Famine Song” is illegal and racist. He neither condones nor encourages anyone to sing “The Famine Song” and would like to make it clear that he is committed fully to opposing racism in all forms.”

36 thoughts on “Trade Union Equality Officer is “Famine song” defender.

  1. colin bradybhoy

    These people have been recruiting young boys to put up stickers for the bnp,nf and combat18 for years,they tried to target pakistani people and their shops for years and they go to the games thinking and acting asif they are still 15,im actually insulting all decent 15year olds out there but u get the point.I grew up watching them go to games and come back after fighting with hibs casuals and that was all they where interested in,fighting,drinking,and generally doing everyrthing that decent minded people wouldnt do and i can honestly say that they still go to games looking to cause as much hassle as possible to whoever it may be,they still dress like casuals and it was only the last game against man-utd when they where all fighting down the paisley road west,and these boys are now nearly40 or older and they still act like the stupid young boys they where,they still support ein they did and nothing will change unless the decent rangers fans get rid of them,hail hail!

  2. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

    Just to clarify. No one should think that the fine folk at the Anne Frank award had any idea of Mr.Smith’s role with the RST or his role in defending the “Famine Song” during the period he was a judge on the award. As previously stated the charity did indeed react with “horror” to learn of Mr.Smith’s other activities. That,of course,includes his fellow judges.

  3. ticbrian

    No pun intended Phil you know me but I wonder, just outa curiosity, his thoughts on seperate catholic schools might be. Pray tell !

  4. AJ.

    Racism?? This nation has the memory of a goldfish. The institutions that commit whole communities to racist ways of life should be dismantled. And no , I’m not talking of any denomination of church, I’m talking of institutions that state they will take up ARMS if Scotland is even allowed a referendum on independence from the affair with England. You know who they are.

  5. Ian Ferguson

    He is another mealy mouthed apologist, and how he got a job in a Union as an Equality Rep amazes me.

    He does a 180 degree turn in the Evening Times, apparently it is Bad now and people shouldn’t do it.

    what a week its been for changing opinions. The succulent lamb eater, after all his “it’s only Banter” articles and statements on his BBC phone in, all of a sudden HE has discovered it is illegal and they shouldn’t do it.

    Mr English had a good article about how they ARE Racist and should not shoot the messenger. there was even mention of the ruling bodies ineptitude and unwillingness to act against RFC.

    Heady times indeed!

  6. droid

    It is amazing how quickly journalist can move to ‘investigate’ circumstances whenever it suits them –

    However, I do think this snippet portrays the eperience of many –

    “And in a past interview, Mir, a presenter on BBC Radio 5 live Drive who was brought up in Bearsden, has been quoted as saying that she could “never” support Rangers, because she remembered men in the club’s shirts handing out BNP leaflets when she was at school.”

    If only their narrow focus could have expanded to include a comment on the advanced efforts being made across england with the pre match video presentations.

    Does Mr Powar’s circumstances not reflect that of the many within Scottish football who have a conflict of interest but yet the media see them fit to continue in such roles?

  7. JimNC

    How can SRTRC support this mob… Is the continued abuse of the Irish nation and those who have any distant association with it based in Scotland not deemed as racism? I really wonder what it is gonna take for the decent Rangers fans to stand up against the very large (minority) bad element at their club. The real irony is that their is a very high statistical chance that the majority of the “Peepul” will have some Southern Irish blood in them. I feel embarassed for them. If it was just a religious thing, I would love for someone of their ilk to tell me what are the main differences in both religion and why that came about…

  8. Paddy Lennon

    Phil, it’s great that this guy is now getting some publicity that he hasn’t engineered for himself. More importantly, it seems that he’s only interested in Equality during the day job. In my opinion his position is untenable. I’m sure the GS will come to that conclusion also.

    FYI – here is what Mr. Smith provided the Scottish Sun with just before Lord Carloway stated what everyone else knew about what Smoth compared to ‘a wind-up’….

    STEPHEN Smith, of the Rangers Supporters’ Trust, said the reaction to fans singing The Famine Song was completely over the top.

    He added: “The reaction from Rangers to baseless accusations of ‘racism’ is disappointing, but the Rangers support absolutely rejects this – along with the sectarian political agenda and deliberate misinformation behind it.

    “Racism is what happened to Emile Heskey in Zagreb last week.

    “Racism is not a wind-up, even one in very poor taste, aimed at Scots Celtic fans whose ‘affiliation’ with Ireland amounts to vocal support for the IRA and songs about killing.

    “The RST’s opposition to racism and sectarianism is unequivocal.

  9. JimNC

    I wonder if we will see a comment from Smith in the next 2 weeks. I will hopefully see Phil Dissect that but feel Smith will squirm thru this without ramifications and his statement will be vague enough to say nothing much… He should follow Walter Smith’s lead and come out with the truth… We all take sides but we should also remember we are publically accountible at the end of the day. The Rangers fans give it ‘F**k the pope’ in games in Europe and then post the video evidence on youtube… i think they are placing the noose around their own neck and i reckon these investigations will rumble on (picking up new evidence and momentum) for a number of years to come. So expect more teflon deflection from the ‘Peepul’ to those who support the green and white, because they have no other route to follow, like rats backed into a corner.

  10. JimNC

    I read your articles often Phil, coming from a family of mixed catholic / protestant backgrounds I have always considred myself neutral in any sectarian debates for and/or against either side. I am a Celtic fan first and foremost and do get a bit irked when there are people in this day and age defend things that are generally not only obscene but in a lot of ways infantile. Grown (maybe professional men) acting like a bunch of uneducated kids teaming up and on a rampage of tribilism, often snowballing bringing in less committed and easily swayed sane individuals to the tribe to join whatever the chant of the day is. Mr Smith’s professional position should be under scrutiny after his ongoing remarks. To make a balanced summary I also dislike some of the things the Celtic fans sing, but any real neutral on balance looking at the evidence on both sides could not put a fraction of the liability on Celtic that Rangers should be facing and maybe they are now. One last thing. I had myself and my boy as season ticket holders last year unfortunately due to work and football playing/coaching for the under 12’s I didnt take that up this season. The amount of bile that non OF fans level at the Celtic support (my son;s experience last season), is something else that should be questioned, this is often seen as banter but I am not a ‘Fenian b*****d’, My Mothers family from Co Monaghan , my fathers from a Fife Presbytarian stock, should I go home cos the famines over. I am a 44 yr old man, typing this note from a hotel in North Carolina, a professional man who has worked 24 years, paying a large chunk of taxation to the UK government and get somewhat offended when neanderthals sponging off the system for years tells me to go home to Ireland… Rant over, Hail Hail..

    1. james

      cant understand what the fuss is all about over songs, i couldnt care what celtic fans sing, i dont like some of their child murdering terrorist songs but put up with them, they have sung,,,GO HOME YOU HUNS TO US FOR YEARS, and then when they here WHY DONT YOU GO HOME, they moan to the establishment,,,grow up for gods sake

    2. jocky bhoy

      James – Rangers are referred to on Hearts websites and many other fansites throughout Scotland as Huns, not just by celtic fans. There are numerous suggestions why that is, but not one of them equates with race or religion.

  11. Guinnessjohn

    Phil Mac , just when I was beginning to think I was beyond further astonishment of forehead , you bring this little jewel to the public domain .

    Principal Official for Equality and Training ? !

    In my bestest Podge and Rodge impersonation , I`ve got to wonder , what the feck is going on ?

    Is this article actually employed as a teacher ?

    Please tell me it`s not so .

  12. RalphWaldoEllison

    What is absent from his latest proxy statement from his Union, is a condemnation of sectarianism. A renunciation of sectarianism is significantly excluded in a statement where he and they had the opportunity to say it loud and clear.

    Quite how he can hold such an equality position within a group that purports to represent people form all denominations, and at the same time tacitly support sectarianism in his other fulltime job is shameful.

  13. daviebhoy

    But Stephen Smith, chairman of the Rangers Supporters Trust, said: “In our opinion the song is not racist and it’s not motivated by racism, it is motivated by football rivalry.

    “People are saying it’s offensive and it is meant to upset them and it’s meant to irritate them, in the same way as any other football song does. It’s part of a deliberate campaign to smear both the club and support and we condemn that.”

  14. Dan

    Excellent work again Phil. How many more people who have what appears to be totally conflicting opinions are out there I wonder?

  15. Gerry

    Superb yet again Phil ! and yet a sad revelation at the same time, that a person can be so different in two totally different roles – an official for equality ???? / and an RST rent-a-gub !!!!!! The next thing he’ll be saying is that he’s “astounded” (ala Bain) at these allegations !
    Any updates on the ever so imminent takeover ?????? 🙂

    Once again, please keep up the great work Phil.

  16. Duff

    If I was a member of the nasuwt I would be horrified that somebody who would excuse such a racist song was in a prominent position in my union, disgraceful!
    Well done Phil keep it up

  17. jmbhoy67

    Hard to beat Phil. Love it!!

    I take it you have been reading the diatribe from ‘Lego’?

    Long may this continue!!


  18. TLOPG

    Hi Phil,

    sorry for not making myself clear.

    I was not casting any doubt on the fact the statement was made, or on your good self.

    All I meant was that if Stephen Smith truly believed that “The Famine Song is illegal and racist” then he should say so himself the next time he is on a news station discussing Rangers and their songs of hate.

    Hope this clears it up, apologies again for any confusion.

  19. Indy Fab

    A fair comment from his union leader at this stage of their investigation.

    The spoekesperson on his behalf is less imrpressive. He neither condones or encourages. But does he criticise or condemn? For evil to prosper……

  20. TLOPG

    You keep surpassing yourself Phil.

    If that statement at the end is true, why does the NASUWT not ask Mr. Smith to repeat this the next time he is on Sky Sports News, or any other media outlet, discussing his fellow Rangers fans who sing this song?

    1. Phil Mac Giolla BhainPhil Mac Giolla Bhain Post author

      The statement was emailed to me by the Press Officer of the NASUWT on his official email.
      Subsequently, I have no reason to doubt the statement.


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