Rapturous applause and much stamping of feet!

Published on Wednesday 19th May, 2010 by Celtic Trust

Jeanette Findlay addresses meeting of Dublin and Meath based Trust Members and Shareholders

The Chair of the Celtic Trust, Jeanette Findlay addressed a meeting of Dublin and Meath based Trust Members and Shareholders in the Teacher’s Club in Dublin city centre on the 12th May. Jeanette welcomed the opportunity to update those present on the current situation with regard to the series of Open Meeting’s initiated by the Trust in Glasgow and on discussions which had taken place with representatives of the Board. The meeting began with a detailed breakdown of the structure of the Trust and it’s status as ‘a regulated body’ and highlighted the fact that the Trust was not in any way in competition with any of the existing supporters' clubs or associations as it undertook quite different functions and responsibilities. It was not involved in the business of organising buses or transport to games, nor was it engaged in ticketing or merchandising. These various functions, it was agreed, were best carried out by clubs, a point that was well made by one of several members of the St Margaret’s Club who were in attendance. A discussion followed which included contributions that suggested that the Board were past masters at engaging with supporters ‘on their terms’ but were much more difficult to engage with round some of the supporters' issues. The meeting felt that there was a need to guard against only being allowed to engage on the club’s terms particularly where the club had made decisions without any consultation. The most glaring example of this was clearly in regard to ‘the poppy’ a matter which was particularly sensitive amongst Irish based supporters and those aware of the role of the British Army in recent Irish history. It was agreed nevertheless that this was an issue which affected the whole support as has been evident in a series of meetings in Scotland on the issue as well as amongst supporters in Europe and North America. As one member put it during a discussion ‘The idea that this issue is going to go away is cloud cuckoo land stuff. We are not going to pay to be humiliated by this crass capitulation to great nation chauvinism.’ Needless to say there were ongoing concerns about the role of John Reid, a former British Secretary of State for Defence in the whole poppy debacle. It was felt that if the club are serious about engaging with the support in a meaningful way they had to make it clear that they understood the ‘poppy’ on the jerseys was a source of great concern for many fans. The view of those present at the meeting (one which is widely reflected in the whole support) is that remembrance is a private matter and it was outrageous to coerce players or fans to participate in ceremonies against their wishes. One suggestion was that any minute's silence be held half an hour before kick-off for those who wish to attend. The issue had all the potential to become an annual stick to beat the club. It should be stressed that those in attendance felt that the ‘poppy’ was the key issue for building and developing supporters' unity around the cherished history and traditions of the club and the Trust was to be congratulated for helping bring these issues into the public realm. The other issues with regard to referring standards and the need for transparency from the SFA were generally agreed as being issues on which the Club would be quite willing to engage, as it was also generally in their interest up to and including a selective boycott of away grounds. The other major issues of contention which has been emerging over the period of the open meetings was the ongoing harassment directed in particular at organisations; organisations which attract the best of the Celtic youth following in groups like the Green Brigade. It is groups like these who have kept a flame alive in an otherwise dark and dreary Celtic Park for most of the season. The same applies to the Jungle Bhoys and the Rude Bhoys who are constantly monitored and harassed by ‘stewards’ who for the most part have nothing to do with the club. The outrageous threat to arrest Michael Pringle a working journalist for the ‘crime’ of ‘bringing fanzines into the stadium’ really is the final straw. The Club have undertaken to investigate this incident and to report back. Nothing short of a full public apology to Michael Pringle will be acceptable, alongside a clear statement that the long established public right to participate in selling Celtic fanzines and related materials at Celtic Park will not be interfered with by overzealous stewards, some of whom seem to be marching to their own agendas. One issue of concern was the fact that the meeting had not been advertised as widely as might have been the case. With this in mind it was agreed that all those present would undertake to build for a wider participation at another Public Meeting in July at the same venue, where further discussion on the role of the Trust in helping promote unity amongst the faithful could be further developed and appropriate structures put in place. The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks to Jeanette Findlay for her attendance and in sending fraternal greetings to Celtic supporters wherever they are. (Rapturous applause and much stamping of feet.....well, not really!)


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