Rangers Supporters Trust claim 'Famine Song' is satirical
A spokesman for the Rangers Supporters Trust has defended the singing of “the Famine Song” by some fans and said describing a follower of Celtic as a “dirty Fenian bastard” was not necessarily bigoted.
David Edgar, the media spokesman for the trust, said the song, which features the lyrics “the famine is over, why don’t you go home?”, was satirical rather than sectarian.
The song has been criticised by politicians in Scotland and Ireland and Rangers have banned it at Ibrox.
Writing in a new book, Rangers: Triumphs, Troubles, Traditions, Edgar said he believed The Famine Song was “no big deal” and that its significance had been exaggerated.
“It was never aimed at Irish people and that is the important thing,” he writes. “It was sung as a dig against those who had this fake, romantic idea of what it means to be Irish.
“It could be used in a racist way, but it wasn’t racist in the context in which it was being sung.”
Edgar accused John Reid, the chairman of Celtic and a former home secretary, who publicly condemned the chant, of “grandstanding”. “Some people were arguing that The Sash is anti-Catholic, which is clearly wrong,” he writes.
“It is pro-Protestant and what is wrong with that? Celtic . . couldn’t be any more Irish if they brought on Paddy McGinty’s goat. But Rangers are told they can’t be proud of their Scottish Protestant unionist history and it sticks in the craw of many fans.”
Edgar said he supported efforts to rid Ibrox of chants referring to the Pope and paramilitary organisations but said those making inflammatory remarks at Old Firm matches should not automatically be condemned.
“You will get an otherwise sensible person like a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant who, with a few beers in them, will stand up and call someone a dirty Orange bastard or a dirty Fenian bastard. Is it right? No, but it doesn’t mean they are bigots.”
He said attempts to weed out sectarianism at Ibrox had destroyed the atmosphere at home games and created a “fear factor”.
“Fans are not sure of what is and what is not acceptable. There is a Big Brother attitude. The club are scared and their philosophy is ‘sit down, shut up, buy a pie and don’t do anything’.”
Nil By Mouth, the anti-sectarian pressure group, said the comments were “disappointing”, adding: “The Famine Song exists and is sung in order to cause deep offence.”
Rangers said the club was committed to taking action against sectarian, racist and anti-social behaviour. “We meet regularly with supporters representing all fans’ groups,” said a spokesman.
From The Times