Political Promise

Auld Firm Summit

In Graeme Morrison on March 9, 2011 at 9:42 am

After news the Celtic vs Rangers derby games will be “calmed down” by new special measure, Graeme Morrison fears it is short term legislation papering over the real problems in Scottish Society.

The Celtic versus Rangers fixture is known across the world due to excitement it generates and the passion of the fans on either side of the ‘Old Firm’ divide. On the 2nd of March this year, both sides met in the fifth round of the Scottish F.A. Cup in what was an incident-packed tie as per usual. Unfortunately, it is more than football that gives this match its unique edge. It has defined social tensions on the Scottish west coast ever since both clubs began to dominate the Scottish game in the late 19th Century. Anyone who witnessed the events at Celtic Park last week will have realised the extent to which madness can escalate in what was a cauldron of an atmosphere.

Three red cards, managers brawling, accusations of racism, warring chief executives and 34 stadium arrests later we have a Scottish Government-led summit in order to bring some sense to what historian Tom Devine called ‘Scotland’s Shame’. The point of this summit is to outline legislation that would potentially minimise the chaos that takes place on Old Firm match days. Earlier weekend kick offs and later openings for public houses have been long established and yet fail to curb overflowing passions. This summit should focus on looking further into the social problems, rooted in history, that continue to influence life in the West of Scotland.

Since the wave of Irish immigration to Scotland in the 1800s and the creation of Celtic FC as a result there has been strong tensions entrenched in Scottish society based on religious tribalism. Indeed Rangers Football Club employed a policy until the late 1980s that said no Roman Catholic could play for the club. Rangers have moved on as a club and it is true most of Scottish society has also done so. There continues to be an ignorance of issues relating to religion on the west coast that undermines our desire to move on in this country. Will this summit help? Perhaps. However, we have it within our own hands to change this ugly part of our social fabric.

It is education that must play a vital role so as we can foster more responsible people who are respectful of others around them. Supporting a football team passionately is to be celebrated. It gives people something to identify with and for many provides their only source of stimulation. When someone bases their prejudices on whether something is green or blue however, is when we must consider which direction our society is headed. It therefore falls to parents, teachers and adults within our communities to ensure young people are making decisions which are well informed and not on bigotry based on ignorance.

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