I spoke to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, a man who wears his Republican heritage on his sleeve, about the hostile reaction to his comments on modernising the Celtic songbook a few months back. Phil found himself to be an easy target for conspiracy theorists who turned on him for issuing a request to an end of political chanting. I’m sure Neil Lennon will not find anything like the same reaction to his comments in the Sun today, but it remains to be seen if anyone listens.
Neil said, “It’s important that we put a general message out that these chants have no place around our club. To be honest, we are better than that as a club and we always have been, we just don’t need it.
“We are and always have been a club open to all and we do not have issues around sectarianism. We have our own values and traditions but they do not include these chants. We don’t want them at matches and they must stop.”
This is not the first time Neil has given the same message this year. After his earlier comments I actually heard, “Who is Neil Lennon to tell me what I can and can’t sing? I’ve been going to Celtic Park a lot longer than he has.”
We are in a classic social paradox. The reputational damage of political singing is not felt by those who sing, and the risk of personal consequences arising for any individual singer is probably around 1%. And let’s be honest here, for all the supportive flags, banners and “I’m Neil Lennon” proclamations, is Neil respected enough to be listened to, or has he become a modern Che Guevara-poster boy?
Whatever you think of Neil, or his rights to say what you can or cannot sing, he has the best interests of our club in mind whenever he speaks on this subject.