Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Keep up the pressure - only weeks to go!

Just to keep people up to speed, the timetable for the Bill is as follows:

the Justice Committee will be debating the amendments which consist of some tidying up from Roseanna Cunningham, the inclusion of 'support for Terrorist organisations' and 'glorifying or celebrating events involving loss of life or serious injury' together with some detail on the review period from David McLetchie and matters relating to the review period; clarification on the nature of transgenderism; replacing ‘stirring up hatred against’ with ‘malice and ill will towards’ and replacing causing ‘fear and alarm’ with causing ‘
a reasonable person to believe that the threatened or incited act, given the circumstances, was likely to be carried out’ from Patrick Harvie.

The detail of the amendments can be found at

29/11/11 time set aside to finish the above debate if necessary

December  Then the process moves to Stage 3 which is consists entirely of the debate in full Parliament with a vote taken.  There is no date set for this but it is likely to be in December.  We plan to have a presence outside Parliament that day and possibly have a delegation going inside to see MSPs beforehand.  As soon as we have the date we will sort out numbers and transport.

It is vitally important that you contact your MSPs as soon as possible.  Please keep pressuring them to ensure that they realise that this Bill must not be passed.  If they are already opposed to the Bill then please ask them about the Section 74 data that were destroyed and the issue of the allegations against Christine Grahame, Convenor of the Justice Committee which have still not been denied.  There are template letters available on the Celtic Trust site at:

And the details of the allegations against Christine Grahame are on

Keep up the pressure – we will not be criminalised

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Green Brigade Response To Campbell Corrigan

Over the past few days, Strathclyde Police have orchestrated a media campaign to tarnish our group as bigots, as justification for their power-grabbing and the Scottish Government's new anti-Football Bill - a Bill that criminalises football fans and the Celtic support in particular. Realising they face a challenge from fans opposed to the Bill, the politicians and police need a scapegoat and they've decided that we fit the bill. Lurid headlines about our supposed 'songs of hate' have been followed up with a demand from Assistant Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan for us to meet him for a dressing-down - a demand made on the back page of a tabloid newspaper. 

We have yet to be formally invited to meet Corrigan but we are happy to respond to his public offer with a public response, and to tell him in the firmest possible terms that we have no intention of meeting him and letting him wag his finger in our face. Corrigan's police force have spent hugely disproportionate resources on policing and gathering intelligence on the Celtic support, and ourselves in particular, including constant video surveillance at matches and a range of petty harassment. 

Out of concern with the policing of football fans and the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill we, alongside the other established Celtic fan organisations, formed Fans Against Criminalisation. On October 29th, we held a peaceful and very successful demonstration in George Square to oppose the SNP's anti-Football Bill. In what seems like a direct response, Corrigan's police force have since acted against us and the Celtic support. At the match v Hibs that afternoon the police, with no regard for fan safety, waded into our section of the ground in an attempt to make arrests of unknown fans. Match commander Eddie Smith then made a complaint to the SPL about offensive chants and after the subsequent match with Rennes in the Europa League he made a similar complaint to UEFA. Such a complaint is unprecedented. 

Following the demonstration and those two matches, several fans have been arrested. In a dawn raid on Friday, the police arrested a 17 year-old boy for a breach of the peace. He has no previous convictions but despite this, he was remanded in custody for 7 weeks on Monday morning, for singing a song that Alex Salmond, Campbell Corrigan and co don't like. Earlier that morning a man accused of attempted murder was granted bail. The young fan was released last night after the intervention of the Lord Advocate. The Lord Advocate, one of the Bill's main cheerleaders, must have realised the potential political damage such a case, illustrating the Crown's attack on fans, would have had on the Bill. 

Campbell Corrigan has today been on radio shows, further scapegoating our group. We note that he is also insisting that he will be meeting Celtic fan organisations to tell us all how to behave. After the police's attack on Celtic fans following the Fans Against Criminalisation demonstration, two Celtic fan organisations asked them for a meeting to discuss their behaviour. The match commander Eddie Smith refused to meet them and his superior, Wayne Mawson, refused to speak of the events of that day. Rather than giving Campbell Corrigan free reign to scapegoat our group for his own ends, perhaps the media should be questioning him on his own force's political policing.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Green Brigade Statement

Green Brigade Statement

On the 29th of October, 2000 Celtic fans came together in Glasgow’s George Square to hold a very successful and peaceful rally against the SNP’s anti-Football Bill. They listened to speakers from the Fans Against Criminalisation campaign detail how the Bill criminalises football fans and the Celtic support, and how dangerous it would be to extend the law to give even more powers to the police.

After the rally, fans then proceeded on to Celtic Park. Along the way they picked up a heavily-manned police escort, complete with helicopter. Inside the stadium there was a further show of opposition against the Offensive Behaviour at Football Bill, with over 100 supporters clubs displaying banners against the Bill and in support of Fans Against Criminalisation.

While the campaign could call on the overwhelming support of Celtic fans, Strathclyde Police clearly were not on message. Fans arriving at the stadium after the protest were greeted with a warning from a senior police officer: ‘you aren’t above the law, we are the law’. During the following 90 minutes and the fortnight since, the police have tried to prove their point. Although we are used to petty harassment from police and constantly being under video surveillance at matches, we were surprised to see a far larger than usual police presence in 111 – there were reportedly 20 officers in and around the stairwell in front of our section.

The match was pretty uneventful – goalless on the park and nothing out of the ordinary off it until the last 7 or 8 minutes of the game. Then, Strathclyde Police made their move. Hand-held cameras in place, they attempted to arrest someone within the section but many fans did not take kindly to their attempts to charge into a crowd and held off police who were pushing and shoving them. The police retreated empty-handed but after the match they again tried to apprehend someone as fans were walking out of the stadium. This time their (again, unsuccessful) attempts saw a young girl barged over and a crush was only narrowly avoided. The operation was clearly pre-planned: it was the first time in two seasons that the police have entered the rows of our section, it happened on the same day as Celtic fans held a successful demonstration against the criminalisation of our support and as we later found out, preceded a police complaint to the SPL delegate about ‘offensive chanting’. It seems that Strathclyde Police are Alex Salmond’s boot boys.

A few days after the Hibs match, reps from the Celtic Supporters Association and Celtic Trust met with Ronnie Hawthorn, Celtic’s Operations Manager, to discuss their concerns about the behaviour of the police. They requested a meeting with Eddie Smith, the match commander who had directed the police’s operation. At previous meetings with Smith (ironically enough, about safety issues), Smith told both the CSA and Trust that he welcomed dialogue with fans. Not this time, however, as Smith refused to meet the fan representatives. The CSA and Trust then wrote to his boss, Chief Superintendent Wayne Mawson, asking for a meeting. Unlike Smith, Mawson said he would be happy to meet but that he would not be willing to discuss the events of the 29th. Unsurprisingly, his offer was turned down.

Since then, Eddie Smith has made official complaints to SPL and UEFA match delegates about ‘offensive chanting’ by the Celtic support at the Hibs game and the subsequent match at home to Rennes. Smith is also the Crown’s main witness in a case against two of our members, both charged with a sectarian breach of the peace for unfurling a banner containing the word ‘huns’ (the only other witness is a member of Celtic’s security staff, himself a former police officer). The SPL and UEFA investigations prompted by his complaints will be conducted while the Scottish Parliament debates and votes on the anti-Football Bill, and will no doubt be covered at length by the media. We doubt this is a coincidence. Already, the propaganda war has begun – today the back page of Glasgow’s local rag carries, under a lurid headline, comments from a publicity-hungry QC close to the Celtic board who calls on us to be banned. It seems he has joined the ranks of the legal establishment who are determined to take a boot at our group and the wider Celtic support.

At 7 am on Friday morning, a 17 year-old fan was arrested on suspicion of a sectarian breach of the peace, and for evading arrest at the Hibs match. He spent the weekend in police cells and yesterday appeared at the Sheriff Court. After the Procurator Fiscal appealed the judge’s decision to grant bail, the young fan was remanded in custody in Polmont Young Offenders Institute until December 23rd. You haven’t misread that – that’s a 17-year-old Celtic fan locked up for allegedly singing a song that Eddie Smith finds offensive.

Celtic fans, and ourselves in particular, are under attack from the government and the police, who are determined to criminalise us for their own ends. We really appreciate the support we have had already, and we will be considering our next actions carefully over the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, we call on all Celtic fans to oppose the criminalisation of our support and to unite behind the Fans Against Criminalisation campaign.

FAC Public Meeting

FAC Public Meeting
Saturday 12 November 2011
Whitehill Secondary School, Dennistoun

Due to pressure of activity around this Bill which is only 5 weeks away from implementation, no official account has yet been given of the meeting.  However, there have been a lot of unhelpful and misleading stories around the internet which need to be corrected.  So here are the facts.

  • The meeting was originally booked in to St Mungo’s Secondary School via the lettings section of Glasgow City Council.
  • The let was changed four days before the meeting because the janitor in St Mungo’s didn’t want to do the overtime
  • We accepted the only other let offered to us at such short notice, which was Whitehill.
  • On the Thursday before the meeting, Mark Dingwall (aka Grandmaster Suck from the Follow Follow website) and David Leggat, a blogger and former journalist spread stories that the meeting was about the IRA.
  • By the Friday this had generated a number of complaints to the school who forwarded them to the City Council (school heads have no say in lets outside of school hours).
  • The City Council did not have a problem with our let but advised the police in case there was any trouble.
  • The meeting was due to begin at 1pm but the main speaker, Michael McMahon MSP, was unavoidable detained in his surgery and did not arrive till 1.30.
  • A large (45-50) contingent of mainly young Rangers casuals arrived at the meeting hall around 12.45.
  • They were told that if they were there to discuss opposition to the Bill then they were welcome
  • There was however a very hostile and threatening atmosphere and many people – especially those with young children and some people with disabilities – left the hall.  Some of those people reported being abused by the Rangers crowd.
  • At around 1.30 the police, who were now there in some numbers, asked to speak to the leaders of the Rangers crowd.
  • One of the organisers went to the hall to ask for them to send someone out to speak to the police and they did that.
  • On the basis of assurances that there would be no trouble, the meeting was started.
  • The Chair, Joe O’Rourke from the CSA and FAC outlined how the meeting would proceed:  Kevin Rooney from the Take a Liberty campaign was to speak first; the main speaker Michael McMahon was to speak next; there would then be a Q&A session and then Jeanette Findlay from the Celtic Trust and FAC would sum up and indicate ways in which people could support the campaign.
  • Jeanette Findlay and Michael McMahon had to approach the leaders of the Rangers crowd at one point during the meeting to say that the meeting could not continue if the heckling did not stop.  They were asked to stop by their own people and did so for a while
  • After Kevin Rooney spoke, during which there was a bit of heckling, the Rangers fans were very keen to ask questions and some questions were allowed. 
  • There were very few positive contributions but there were some.
  • However, at that point a large number of Celtic fans left the room on the basis that they felt the meeting had become pointless and was becoming mainly directed towards the Rangers fans rather than a genuine debate about how to oppose the Bill.  At this point there were probably about 100 people left in the room (around 6 from Motherwell, about 47 Rangers and the rest Celtic)
  • Michael McMahon spoke – extremely well – and was well received by all.
  • There was then a number of points made from the hall, including a very good point by a young Motherwell fan (a group of whom had come to take part in the debate) about the heavy and aggressive policing that they are subjected to.
  • At this point the meeting was only 5 minutes from the published end time and the janitor wanted the meeting to end on time.
  • Jeanette Findlay stood up to indicate the timeline for the Bill and the sorts of activities that we were trying to organise, however, as soon as she started speaking the Rangers crowd were led out by the people who seemed to be speaking for them, indicating that they did not wish to hear anything she had to say.
  • The meeting ended a few minutes later.

This meeting did not achieve the aims that were intended and, on that basis, was not a positive experience.  It was particularly distressing for those who felt unable to come into the room and it was unfortunate that the young Motherwell fans were not able to see the kind of purposeful meeting that would have taken place in other circumstances.

The Bill is only 5 weeks from implementation and we do not intend to waste any further time picking over this meeting.  We will be publishing a number of events and activities soon.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Michael McMahon MSP on the Christine Graham allegations

"As Convenor of the Justice Committee Christine Grahame has a responsibility to ensure that the Scottish Government is doing all it can to protect people from sectarianism and racism and any questions raised  about her position on this matter must be cleared up as soon as possible. Given the nature of these allegations and the concerns that such an allegation raise I would urge Christine Grahame to consider her position on the Justice Committee until such times as any investigation into this matter has been completed.

Questions already exist about Ms Grahame's neutrality while considering the so called Bigot Bill as she appears to believe that more Catholics need to be arrested to even things up in society. She clearly cannot be viewed as an impartial participant in the process of scrutinising this controversial legislation and while these allegations remain under investigation she should not be steering the Committee's interrogation of the Government's unpopular proposal"

Anti-Football Bill being shepherded through Parliament by Anti-Catholic?

Jeanette Findlay of the Celtic Trust on the allegations made against Christine Grahame MSP. 

In a potentially explosive development, a former employee of Justice Committee Convenor, Christine Grahame MSP has accused her of holding anti-Catholic views.  Mark Hirst who worked for Grahame for for two periods totalling 9 years and ending with his sacking in September for ‘gathering information without her consent’, has accused Grahame of holding deeply sectarian views in relation to Catholics as well as being racist and homophobic.  He claims she has expressed these views in front of witnesses from as far back as 2001 and that this was well known inside her SNP branch.

Mr Hirst is currently assisting the Parliamentary Authorities and the Electoral Commission who are investigating Ms Grahame over allegations that her parliamentary and constituency office were operating in a corrupt manner with systematic malpractice taking place routinely.

In addition, he has made further allegations to the Scottish Public Standards Commissioner into a number of sectarian and racist comments Ms Grahame has made.  He is also taking his case to an Employment Tribunal backed by his union.

Ms Grahame is accused by Hirst of comments about SNP colleagues who were known to be Catholics such as Michael Matheson, Roseanna Cunningham and Tricia Marwick.  In the case of Marwick she made references to Marwick’s parliamentary activity as being ‘influenced and directed by the Church’.  In relation to Matheson and Cunningham she accused them of being ‘as thick as thieves’ because they were ‘both Catholics you know’. 

Hirst claims that Grahame opposed the re-entry of a former SNP Councillor, Murray Hendrie, who had defected to the Labour Party on the grounds that he was a Catholic and that this was discussed at the Tweedale branch of the SNP.

Hirst accuses Grahame of being influenced negatively in relation to a number of pieces of legislation by whatever position the Catholic Church took.  In relation to Margo McDonald’s End of Life Bill she is said by Hirst to have been furious when Mike Rumbles suggested that an ad-hoc committee be set up to scrutinise the Bill and said, in front of witnesses:  ‘It’s because he’s a f*cking Catholic’.

These and other allegations about Grahame are contained in a blog at http://holyroodconfessions.blogspot.com/.

The Celtic Trust and other members of Fans Against Criminalisation will be raising these matters with MSPs as a matter of urgency.  We have already highlighted Grahame’s comments, made during the evidence hearings of the Justice Committee, to the effect that the existing legislation does not convict Celtic supporters in equal numbers to Rangers supporters and inferred that this was somehow problematic and specifically ‘not even’.    If these latest allegations are true then this renders Grahame not only unfit to be dealing with this Bill but potentially unfit to be an MSP.

We call on the SNP leadership to investigate these matters and issue a statement as to their veracity.  We further call on them to halt the progress of this Bill with immediate effect as it is clearly now tainted with a strong whiff of anti-Catholicism.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Michael McMahon MSP to address Fans Against Criminalisation Public Meeting

We’re pleased to announce Michael McMahon MSP will be speaking at our public meeting on Saturday at Whitehill Secondary School in Dennistoun (1-2.30pm).

Michael is a life-long Celtic fan and is the MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill. Michael, like every opposition MSP opposes the Bill and at last week’s Parliamentary debate argued that it would ‘rip through the fabric of Scottish society and leave it tattered and torn.’ He’ll urge the government to think again and offer his thoughts on how we should fight the anti-football Bill.

Details on further speakers to follow.

Change of Venue for Saturday's public meeting

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we've had to change the venue for Saturday's public meeting. The meeting will now be held at Whitehill Secondary School, 280 Onslow Drive, Dennistoun, G31 2QF.

Entry is from Onslow Drive and there are parking facilities within the school grounds. For anyone travelling by train the nearest station to Whitehill Secondary School is Duke St and the school is easily reached from Duke St, Cumbernauld Road and Alexandra Parade.

Apologies for any inconvenience and we look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Chris McCann speech at Fans Against Criminalisation demo

Below is a copy of Chris's speech at last week's demonstration at George Square.

Fans Against Criminalisation is a campaign group formed by the five main Celtic fan organisations - the Green Brigade, the Celtic Trust, the Celtic Supporters Association, the Affiliation of Registered Celtic Supporters Clubs and the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs. The campaign is also supported by supporters clubs and independent buses the length and breadth of Britain, throughout Ireland and all over the world. And as we can also see from this fantastic turnout, our campaign is also supported by ordinary Celtic fans from all walks of life, concerned citizens and fans of other teams who like us oppose the criminalisation of football fans and Alex Salmond's anti-football Bill.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill was introduced at the end of the last football season. We can trace its roots back to the 2nd of March, 2011. That night at Celtic Park, we played Rangers in a Scottish Cup replay. Mark Wilson scored the only goal of the game but the main talking points were three Rangers players being sent off and Neil Lennon having a touchline spat with Ally McCoist.

The newspapers called it 'Scotland's shame game' and ahead of the May election, the police and politicians sensed they could make some political capital from giving football and football fans a kicking.

Alex Salmond hosted a high-profile Summit involving both clubs then introduced the Offensive Behaviour legislation. At first he tried to rush the Bill onto the statute books but after a backlash he was forced to delay the legislation's passage through Parliament until the New Year. In this period, the Bill has been attacked by legal scholars, by civil liberties groups, by religious figures, by opposition parties, by football clubs and by football fans but still Salmond and his government refuse to do the right thing, to hold up their hands and admit they got it wrong.

The Scottish Government and a friendly media have been keen to portray this Bill as 'anti-sectarian' or 'anti-bigotry'. The reality is that it has nothing to do with sectarianism or bigotry. If it did there wouldn't be such a phenomenal turnout as there is here today to oppose it. After all, it has been us - the Celtic support - that has faced decades of sectarian and racial hatred. It was us who watched in horror last year as our manager was physically attacked at Tynecastle and had potentially deadly parcel bombs sent to him. Bullets were sent to two of our players, Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, just because they, like Neil Lennon and many of our fans, are Irish Catholics. We know the horrendous potential consequences of bigotry and we have no truck with it whatsoever.

But the Bill is not about sectarianism or racism. Existing laws already adequately provide the police and the Procurator Fiscal with powers to arrest, charge and convict the bigots. Instead, the new law is concerned not with sectarian behaviour but with offensive behaviour - a completely different and far wider concept. Government Ministers are on record as saying that fans may well be arrested under the new legislation for blessing themselves or for singing a national anthem - both a far cry from sectarian violence. Anything that could offend in the eyes of a single police officer will be fair game for the law. You could even be lifted for offending people that aren't even there, people that aren’t even present in a football stadium. It's an absolute minefield and every football fan in this country will have to tread carefully as they support their team, for fear of being caught up in it. Those who are - that is, fans who a police officer think might possibly have offended someone, can face up to 5 years in jail.

The law will apply only to football fans. Apparently we're to blame for sectarianism. Apparently we're to blame for Scotland's drink and casual violence culture. Apparently we're to blame for drunks going home and beating their partners to a pulp. But as we all know, this is not the case. The reality is that football fans are convenient scapegoats for politicians who lack the ability and the ideas to try and tackle the nation's problems. Instead they prefer to play cheap politics and they think football fans are an easy target. Well we say no longer. No longer are we going to be an easy target. No longer are we going to allow politicians to stick the boot into us.

Fans Against Criminalisation was launched earlier this month to provide Celtic fans with a voice to tell the politicians just that. To tell the politicians that we won't allow them to blame us for Scotland's problems or as cover for their own failings. To tell the politicians that no longer can they give football fans and Celtic fans a kicking. To make it clear to the SNP government that we will not let them criminalise us and if they try then we will fight them every step of the way.

It seems that the Offensive Behaviour Bill is instead Alex Salmond's attempt to score cheap political points by giving football fans - particularly Celtic fans - a kicking. Well today the Celtic support have started the fight back. Today we've sent a message to the SNP and the Scottish Government. We've sent the message, loud and clear, that if they think they we're a soft target, if they think they can criminalise football fans, if they think they can criminalise the Celtic support, then they can think again.

A week ago today Alex Salmond addressed the SNP's annual conference in Inverness. He boasted about there being a record conference turnout, about how 1000 people had turned up to hear him speak in the comfort of a warm conference hall. Well today Mr Salmond, there are twice as many Celtic fans standing outside in the cold of George Square to oppose your anti-football Bill. It's time for you to listen to us; it's time for you to Kill this Bill. 

FAC Public Meeting 12 November 2011 at 1pm

There will be a Fans Against Criminalisation Public Meeting on Saturday 12 November (next Saturday) from 1-2.30. 

Following on from the debate in the Scottish Parliament last week when the Government-sponsored Bill was opposed by every single MSP except those of the Government's own party, it is important that we push on with the united opposition to this unnecessary but very dangerous legislation.

The meeting will be held in St Mungo's Academy, pedestrian entrance on the Gallowgate and vehicle entrance on Crownpoint Road.  There is ample car-parking.

Details of speakers to follow.  Please pass this information around.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

When is a peaceful demo no longer peaceful?

Jeanette Findlay on the George Square protest

George Square is Green and White

The demonstration organised by the Fans Against Criminalisation campaign against the Offensive Behaviour at Football Threatening Communications Act exceeded by far the greatest expectations of the organisers.  Typically the Celtic crowd in George Square on Saturday was around the 400 mark just prior to the 12.30 kick-off but it swelled to nearer 1500-2000 by the time the speakers climbed on to the base of the statue of Robert Burns  - my Granny Reilly must have been spinning in her grave at the thought of me near the statue of that 'old masonic whore-master' as she so colourfully referred to him.  This very large crowd (much larger than the 400-700 estimates given by the biased, sorry innumerate, press) was made up of men, women and children of all ages ie a typical Celtic crowd.  And like a typical Celtic crowd they cheered and they laughed and eventually, on the way back to Celtic Park for the Hibs game, they sang.  This was a peaceful and passionate demonstration which sent a clear and strong message to the Scottish Government that we were not going to allow our young people to be criminalised and all of us branded bigots just to advance the careers of Lord Advocates and Chief Constables, and to take the bad look off the real bigots in this country.  Speaker after speaker spelled out our reasoned opposition to this Bill and our determination to fight it to the end.


Croppies Lie Down...

All good so far, until we arrive at Celtic Park and then it was payback time!  In a breach of assurances given by the police to all the main supporters organisations some weeks before, a heavy and aggressive police presence was visited on the fans who occupy Section 111.  Both before the match kicked off and ten minutes before the end, they invaded that stand in a show of strength designed to let us all know - we can demonstrate as peacefully as we like but they are in control and they are going to take our right to protest and shove it right up to us.  Young people and women were pushed around and had their safety endangered as they attempted to pull one or two individuals who were alleged to have sung the wrong song.  This was nothing like the 'facilitation' role that we in the supporters' organisations have been assured is the main role of the police on match days.  Were it not for the cool heads of the Green Brigade and other fans keeping things calm then there could have been far more serious consequences to their action.

Today both the CSA and the Celtic Trust have met with representatives of Celtic and we will be meeting with the police in the next day or so.  But this has now moved way beyond an issue for football fans;  this was an organised attack on people who only a few hours before had been peacefully demonstrating and it was designed to send a message to all of us 'Croppies Lie Down'.  Every Celtic fan, and every democrat and every citizen who wants to live in a Scotland where the police are democratically accountable should be extremely concerned by these developments.  We in the Fans Against Criminalisation campaign will continue to oppose this Bill - we won't be doing any lying down unless it is on the London Road as an act of mass civil disobedience if that is what we are forced to do.

Reports of the outcomes of any meetings on this issue will be posted here.  In the meantime, we would like to encourage any fan who was personally affected by the police action to make a full complaint at their nearest police station.  We will be happy to offer advice and support if that is necessary.  We have collected a good deal of evidence regarding the police action on Saturday but if anyone wishes to send us any more in confidence then please do so.

And in answer to the question at the top of the page...when the police decide it does not suit their purpose.

Reproduced from celtictrust.net

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A personal view on Saturday's protests from Donald Graham

Well here it is, a dreich Saturday in Glasgow, but there is the Celtic game to look forward to, and I still do, despite all the negativity surrounding the team. Something else today though;  the match day routine, or at least for Saturday 3pm kick offs at home, of meeting up with my brother and some guys who I’ve been going to games with since the late Seventies, is going to be delayed , I am going to a demo. Now being a trade unionist and a political animal anyway, I’ve been to a few demos over the years but this one is different for me.   It’s to let the SNP government know that Celtic fans will not accept (I was going to write “will not stand” but that maybe wouldn’t be the case ) being criminalised by proposed new legislation.

We arrived at George Square about 12.15 being slightly worried that we wouldn’t get a turn out due to the weather and supporters having pre match routines;  plus my mate, ever the pessimist, whispering in my ear all the way up on the train 'if 50 turn up we will be lucky'.

I began to get more and more confident about a good turn out the nearer I got to George Square as I saw more and more fans in Celtic colours and a some cracking hoodies and t-shirts with the visually memorable FAC logo and slogans like “I am a football fan not a criminal” emblazoned across them (these are keepers, where can I get one?)

Even my mate was accepting that there was going to be more than 50 by the time we hit Queen Street and as we turned the corner at Greggs into George Square there they were over a thousand fans, perhaps nearer two, prepared to stand together and say YOU ARE NOT CRIMINALISING US.

We manoeuvred our way into the crowd to get a good view and hearing of the speakers (a little criticism here; because there was so many fans that the megaphone being used could have done with being a bit louder I’m sure some at the back wouldn’t have heard all the speeches). The crowd was a good cross-section of the Celtic support young and old, black and white, male and female, different nationalities and various religions and none, I thought to myself yes there going to have to criminalise us all.

There were speakers from the Green Brigade, the Celtic Trust, the Celtic Supporters Association and the Association of Irish Celtic Supporters Clubs, and even a spokesperson from the anti capitalist campers spoke to offer their solidarity and explain their reasons for being there. They all asked the question why is this new law needed; hardly any crimes committed at football these days, even the so called shame game was more about misbehaviour from Rangers players than anything from the fans;  plenty of current legislation to deal with sectarianism, racism and bigotry; is it just that as Christine Grahame stated, ‘to even things up’?

The point was made that our songs are not sectarian or racist. Speakers also asked why was the suggested behaviour only a crime when connected to football.  There were also suggestions that this bill may have more to do with the careers of the Alex Salmond, Frank Mulholland and the Strathclyde Chief Constable Stephen House.   The question was also asked about what happened to the statistics compiled on sectarian crime that have been mysteriously destroyed, yes the ones that show what the real problem is in our society.  The idea that fans are to blame  for domestic violence was also rubbished as statistics show that Christmas and New year are the worst time for domestic violence  - so do we criminalise Christmas? The Supporters Association pledged to support any Celtic fan that is wrongfully arrested under this new law and if it goes through that pledge will be part of the ongoing campaign - a campaign all the Supporters groups and fans attending pledged themselves to continue even if the Bill becomes law.

The meeting finished with loud cheering and applause for the speakers as they made it clear that this was ‘Just the beginning’ and a large number of fans headed up to the game, whilst some of us headed to continue our Saturday football routine (you know what I mean).

Well what next? There was a magnificent FAC banner display throughout Celtic Park before the Hibs game; there is an online petition that can be signed and you can get hold of your MSP, especially if they are SNP and let them know how you feel about the Bill. Well after Saturday I am up for the fight and so is my mate the pessimist.  We can stop this Bill if we can show the SNP how foolish they will look to push it through against the will of almost all football fans, churches, academics, and other political parties.  

FAC THE BILL and refuse to be criminalised for supporting your team. Join the fight.        

Donald Graham, Celtic Trust