BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast

Published on Tuesday 20th November, 2007 by Celtic Trust

Jeanette Findlay appearance on 5 Live Breakfast

SF: Shelagh Fogarty NC: Nicky Campbell JF: Jeanette Findlay SF: The new chairman of Celtic, the former home secretary John Reid was called a war criminal by a fan at the club's Annual General Meeting. Mr Reid was in the Cabinet when Britain took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Jeanette Findlay is Secretary of the Celtic Trust which promotes the interests of fans and small shareholders. Bit strong, Jeanette? JF: Well certainly that wasn't the trust spokesperson that made that remark, and I don't think it was necessary to be that inflammatory. Our opposition to John Reid's appointment as Chair of Celtic is certainly to do with his role, his leading role - he wasn't just a member of the Cabinet, he was the Defence Secretary - his leading role in relation to what many believe is an illegal and immoral war. Our view is that if you are going to be the public face of a club like Celtic which - I don't want to sound like an advert for a well known store - is more than just a PLC, its in fact more than just a football club - it's a social and cultural institution and is a source of identity for many of the fans that support it. We don't want some who, really forever - for better or worse - is forever going to be associated with that humanitarian disaster. SF: But before John Reid, before he had that position, how deeply into the personal and professional histories of the Chairman did you go? JF: Well, we actually only came into being - the Celtic Trust - just about the same time that Brian Quinn became Chairman, so this is the first appointment... [interrupted] SF: Well, hypothetically, how deeply into a person's personal and professional history do you think you should go? JF: We made some general points about the search process for board members in general. We actually have some views about the whole process, and again, for the reasons that I've just outlined about the nature of the type of club that Celtic is, we think that the search criteria should be much broader than what would be the norm for a PLC. So, for instance, Celtic was founded as a charitable institution, so we think they should be looking at people who have a leading role in the charitable and social activism sector. That's not to say they don't need the professional qualifications and expertise that are necessary to run a business of that size [NC tries to interrupt - 'it's a fascinating..] - we have looked beyond [NC interrupts again] NC: It's a fascinating area Jeanette ... Which are you most uncomfortable with - and this is just a point which I am sure will occur to some people - the pro-terrorist songs that regrettably are still heard from some Celtic fans or the appointment of Dr Reid? Which causes you most concern? JF: Well I take a different view from you on the so-called pro-terrorist songs that you've just outlined. As I have tried to explain to you about the nature of Celtic as a club ... many people .... It was founded to help the poor Irish immigrants to Scotland. Although it has never been an exclusive club, many of the support are descendants of those people. They may take a particular view on the history of what happened in Ireland which is different from many other people, so I don't call those pro-terrorist songs. SF: Do you not think that Celtic and perhaps Rangers too or Scotland generally really has had its fill of the political debate within what is essentially a sporting club? Hasn't it had enough of that? Hasn't history told us that it is a dead end? JF: I think what history tells us is that it's actually facile to say that politics and sport will ever be separated. Throughout history, sporting events are used often as a means of expressing political views or political identities. I don't see anybody criticising Barcelona for being essentially the national club of the Catalan people. But somehow or another when it comes to Celtic, there is something wrong with that. I think people need to take a wee step back. NC: If I can get back to what some people call the pro-terrorist songs, I'm not talking about the Fields of Athenry, I'm talking about actually chanting the IRA and stuff ... (interrupted) JF: Well, you are talking about songs about the IRA but again, many of those songs are songs from what was essentially a war of independence going back right into the early 1920s, in fact going back over a hundred years, those songs .... NC: People who have lost relatives, who have been blown to pieces and murdered by the IRA find that as offensive as you might find Dr Reid's appointment. Can you not see that? JF: Well, I am sure that the parents of Peter McBride, who was murdered by two British soldiers who were then reinstated under John Reid's watch, will also find that offensive. There's deaths on both sides. NC: Jeanette Findlay, we hear where you are coming from. [Ends interview].


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