Neil Lennon speaks out for the heart of Celtic


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.

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  1. mickthetic says:


    “Can l ask why do grown men need to be asked to stop chanting this drivel”



    Irish songs of resistance are drivel? As Mr Kelly said perhaps Scottish fans should stop singing the flower of Scotland at games – using your argument i guess that would come under the drivel category

  2. may67 says:


    17 November, 2011 at 13:39



    I suppose they’re just simpler for me! I appreciate the tone of the question, but I’ve taken a ton of abuse on CQN this week for stating my case. I guess it’s out there, for better or worse, if you want to go back to previous threads.



    However I agree there is nothing simple about defining what is illicit and what isn’t. On the other hand it’s not hard to define what is offensive, even allowing for the fact that some people are offended by benign things like bad grammar or the excess of facial hair in November – we’re grown up enough to know what this means in most cases.


    Neil Lennon doesn’t refer to illicit chants, he simply says ‘we’re better than that’. We know what that is.


    People will debate this for many more years, long past the stage where it’s relevant, if that we’re not already past that point.



    I think the curious thing about this fall-out amongst Celtic fans is that we set the tone ourselves. The club mission statement, the new Celtic Park, the new vibe around the club and we defined ourselves as better than that. We did that, Lennon didn’t just make that up to persuade the recalcitrant, he simply stated an accepted fact. When times were good this wasn’t on the table, our reputation was worldwide and we wanted to protect it.


    This, by the way, has always been the most powerful approach to ending difficulties with supporters. The other great examples are Scotland and Ireland, whose fans recognise that being passionate and friendly is incredibly endearing to neutrals from all corners of the globe. And of course, we know this too, because we should be mentioned in exactly the same context.



    Anyway… said a bit more than planned, as usual. I’m a little less angry today, but, for me and others that’s something to note – being put through the ringer like we have this week may have been unfair and disproportionate, but only when placed in the context of the ugly mob. In the context of Celtic, well we deserved it, and we shouldn’t shirk our responsiblity – we can shape a country, it doesn’t have to be any other way.

  3. imatim @13 42 ———–



    Less than 1 % of the Scottish population are members of the Orange Order..

  4. weeminger says:


    17 November, 2011 at 13:10




    Aye. And see when an employee from Celtic Park is commenting on the issue, why don’t the jusf say. ” These songs are inappropriate for Celtic Park and we would prefer if they were not dung there”. Leave politics at the door? To me it totally depends on what youe politics are.

  5. Canamalar



    I see that in your posts you no longer have the decency to address me personally even after my apology.



    I will return to my initial feelings.



    You’re a bawbag.

  6. The No.13 Shorts on

    Appeasement. Appeasement Appeasement.


    Hypocrisy Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy.


    Poppy Donation. Poppy Donation. Poppy Donation.

  7. What sticks in the craw with the Irish Independent is that there can be no community in the world today that is subjected to more anti-Irish racism than the Glasgow Irish.



    If you want to get stuck into the Irish, Scotland, especially Glasgow, is the place for you.



    I don’t expect sympathy from them, but slightly more sensitivity from a Dublin-based paper, yes.

  8. Coorsland,



    Stein, O’Neil and Strachan led the club. They were figureheads, even though Strachan wasn’t always accepted, and we followed their lead.


    The great managers have been that. Lennon may not be a great manager yet, but, he is a great Celtic figurehead already. He speaks well, and he speaks from a position of greater strength than most… after all, he is Irish, has been a victim and there are consequences for what he says. Lot of people on here don’t have to consider the consequences of their statements or actions… or thoughts.

  9. .



    hamiltontim says:


    17 November, 2011 at 14:02





    Don’t waste your breath M8.…………………….




  10. Celticeoin



    I have read it and understand with what you say in regards these great men.


    Do you honestly believe that what is happening just now is helping Celtic?


    Or do you feel that were being hurt by them?


    For me make no mention of the Ira till what it is decided what is acceptable.


    I laugh at that lot. how they kicked and scream when brought to task, My support are as bad.




  11. The club have, in my opinion, misjudged the mood of the support on this one. Even on this most reasoned and moderate of Celtic sites, many posters who don’t want these songs to be sung do not agree with their stance.



    Something along the lines of Michael Kelly’s statement would have been more appropriate.

  12. BontyBhoy says:


    17 November, 2011 at 14:06



    I wish you would consider the consequences of your statements, ye burst ma t”ts every time ye post.

  13. celticeoin at 13:59



    I think it would be hard to find any song referring specifically to the Provisional IRA. There are some which mention the provos like “A provo’s lullaby” but can’t say i’ve ever heard it sung at Celtic Park or away grounds. “Roll of Honour” does get an airing every now and again and those mentioned in were in the Provisional IRA.



    To be honest, I also don’t think any “Celtic” songs mention the IRA with the exeption of the Celtic Symphony and even the “up the ra” reference has all but been changed to “up the Celts”.



    The point isn’t really about the actual songs because I don’t think any are illegal or sectarian in anyway but they all have the potential of getting Celtic into trouble.



    May I ask if you sing songs about the IRA at Ireland games or GAA matches?




  14. Uglach



    Pretty much yes, its drivel



    Until now no one to my knowledge has been upset by it, If that happens it must be stopped.



    Honest to God l must be missing something in all of this.




  15. ASonOfDan says:


    17 November, 2011 at 13:58


    I had no idea we had so many ‘Uncle Toms’ amongst the Celtic Support… :(



    If I’m an Italian Scot Catholic… i’ve got my own problems.


    If I’m a protestant Scot… I am the oppressor.


    If i fell for Celtic watching them playing with such style and passion in one of the European finals… well I’m just a football fan.


    We’re a football club, mate. That’s it, we attract football fans, and we’ve done bloody good job of that. If we weren’t inclusive then CQN would be a small website with 10 posts a day. But we’re one of the worlds biggest football clubs and no-body has a clue how many of our fans care at all about the Irish question.


    It honestly baffles me that those who do care fail to realise that’s a personal problem not a collective one. The collective Celtic support are pretty clear on this issue – keep it personal, even if some people agree.

  16. bournesouprecipe says:


    17 November, 2011 at 13:46





    We are all struggling, with this issue and you’re not?



    Michael Kelly the orator * revised from polished mouth * for your benefit has been clear and is willing to take his platform, in the debate.



    I am comfortable that the people in power at the club, understand the problem as well and better than he does.



    Now that the charges have been made, and the media frenzy is no longer news, let’s see what Celtic do.



    We’ll soon see if the right people are in power at the club.






    My post objected to your use of “polished mouth.”


    I see you’ve reflected on this and now agree with me.



    Good man.

  17. Neil canamalar Lennon hunskelper extrordinaire on



    do you have a view ?


    do you agree that the tax evasion by rangers has a direct impact on the lack of basic survival kit of our armed forces, which would imply their financial strategy is responsible for the deaths and injury of soldiers serving in overseas conflits ?

  18. Mort.



    Well played.



    There’s a few GAA clubs in Tyrone which could your diplomatic skills! :)

  19. RalphWaldoEllison-is Neil Lennon Season 2011-12 on

    Justice in Scotland – I don’t think so.



    Until February this year, the police in Scotland could gather evidence from questioning a suspect for 6 hours before the suspect had access to a solicitor. This practice was discontinued in England 25 years ago, under the old Police and Criminal Evidence Act.



    Lord Carloways treport is released today and recommends 76 – yes, seventy six changes to the system to make it fairer to suspects.



    Carloway’s report only came about because one teenager challenged the system.



    In the BBC reports it was interesting to read all the handwringing from politicans of all parties. None of them were remotely interested in justice and fairness until this appeal was heard. The police were previously able to deny suspects in Scotland the very rights that the Westminster Govt often criticized rogue regimes for not implementing.



    Independence my archie. Patriotism is a dodgy flag to stand under. It means so many different things to so many people. Some in Scotland would want a country steeped in the discriminatory practices that my parents and grandparents had to endure, and fought for years to end.









  20. Mort says:


    17 November, 2011 at 13:32



    Irish Independent now changed headline to illicit.



    I think I can live with that. My work there is done.







    Well played, sir.

  21. BontyBhoy says:


    17 November, 2011 at 14:11



    “The collective Celtic support are pretty clear on this issue – keep it personal, even if some people agree”. Wouldn’t be arrogant enough to claim if this statement to be true or false but it’s up there with, “we, the decent Celtic supporters”.

  22. Lurgan 53 at 14:14



    Not just clubs in Tyrone. My good lady is from Rasharkin and they’ve had even worse troubles.




  23. gorbalstam says:


    17 November, 2011 at 14:09



    I’m pretty sure the consequence of almost every post on CQN is so slight it’s not worth thinking about. However, if you want to explain what you mean then I’ll try to explain myself. That said, I tend to think the posts are self-explanatory.


    Note, please (!), that I’m not expressing a view on the songs or the sentiment, but on their place at Celtic Park. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to state that the majority of posters are not quite so sure about what they’re talking about – they’re just indignant and Celtic are as much a victim of this mis-directed anger as those who truly are offended.



    C’mon let’s hear it then…

  24. South Of Tunis says:



    17 November, 2011 at 14:00


    imatim @13 42 ———–


    Less than 1 % of the Scottish population are members of the Orange Order..





    182 Orange Lodges in Scotland, that is one per 28,000 people.


    250 in England, one per 204,000.

  25. Well said Neil Lennon.



    Anyone who hasn’t got the message by now isn’t going to get the message and should be made to watch an endless loop of Hannah Montana.

  26. Gorbalstam



    The evidence is clear… the majority of fans don’t sing offensive songs… yet the majority have to deal with the consequences. Nothing arrogant in that statement, it’s the most easily observed fact in this whole debate. jeezo

  27. Big Swee walks on with Neil Lennon on

    The mood of the support is mentioned in quite a few posts and while not condoning behaviours deemed to be unreasonable I return every time to the same thought.



    We behaved perfectly and still they sought to blacken the name of the club


    We had the full rendition of hate and bile from our opposition. They get congratulated.


    They sing songs of hate and discrimination it is ignored.


    We sing songs of history and ballads that are Irish but labeled as sectarian.


    They are up to their knees in Fenian Blood…..nothing.


    Ooh ah………. Kick in your front door and dragged off to jail (where has that been seen before) with no prospect of bail until a senior law lord steps in.



    For me it’s not about the songs but the mis-representation of our clubs supporters and the lack of morale courage and leadership that would make a statement to say we will not be bullied or have our name sullied by those evil eyes who have no place in Paradise.



    Someone mentiond MON the other day and I recalled Ned Flanders nasal opine that we were signing Rebel songs about marching with O’Neill and how it sullied the country when only days and weeks before we listended to the full Billy Boy song book with no utterance.



    And then they wonder why we are annoyed.

  28. I have never posted anything negative about Neil Lennon on a Celtic site in fact the opposite.



    But there is a first time for everything and here goes, Neil Lennon was:



    Wrong to put his message out through the Sun. The Celtic website or indeed this or any other similar site would have been a more appropriate way that would not have been spun to suit the paper’s agenda as we have seen with the Irish Independent’s view the Neil condemned the GB for their “racist” chants.



    Wrong to make no reference to the legal status of the RA chants in question and this will also allow the government to spin his views as being evidence that the Celtic manager also thinks that these chants are illegal but not covered by existing legislation, as Roseanna Cunningham did in parliament with her remarks that suggested that Peter Lawwell through his calls to end the chants was in favour of the bill.



    Wrong not to condemn the over-zealous approach of the police driven by, what is at best a political motivation, and at worst a sectarian agenda to damage our club. He must see with his own eyes at Celtic Park on match days policing that would shame a banana republic acted out against those most vociferous in support of the club and Neil Lennon!



    Wrong not to comment on the double standards that exist in the treatment of our fans by the press, the police, the authorities. Not whataboutery just plain double standards.



    Neil is a highly intelligent individual and could have handled this much better. He is entitled to his views and in this case they are views that I share with him 100%. But he could have argued his case with the Celtic support in person and in private and not added to the media firestorm that is aimed at us by our detractors. Those who would see us in the same boat as their impoverished favourites. And those who have done everything possible to mock and demean him personally.



    He knows the impending new legislation and the boost his stance will give that process when spun by our media.



    He above all people should have known better.

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