Vincent's Blog: A week is a long time in politics

Published on Monday 5th September, 2011 by Celtic Trust

The thoughts of (Vice)Chairman Vincent Doherty. If you like it, tell us. If you don't, tell him

'A week is a long time in politics'. Discuss.

Had I posted the blog I’d written on Wednesday morning as planned, I wouldn’t have had to scrap it and instead spent last Friday night in front of a keyboard. My initial offering had been about the horror show in Switzerland, with a supplementary piece about the start of the trail in Edinburgh of the sectarian thug who attacked Neil Lennon at the Gorgie bigot dome in April. I have to say that as a long term observer of the judicial process here in Ireland and further afield I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite as blatant a miscarriage of justice.

Certainly I’ve seen any number of cases with much more serious consequences for those involved. Think only of the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four, not to mention literally hundreds of other cases of wrongful arrest and imprisonment, which in turn destroyed the lives of thousands as a result of British injustices against Irish people. But in terms of a totally blatant disregard for the facts, in an assault witnessed by literally millions of television viewers, as well as several thousand who like myself witnessed the incident it in the flesh so to speak, the acquittal of someone in such circumstances speaks volumes about the nature of the Scottish judicial process, and more importantly in this case, about the composition of the jury.

The outcome has been compared to the acquittal of members of the Ku Klux Klan in the southern states of the US in the 50’s and 60’s, who despite overwhelming evidence of their involvement in the lynching of innocent African Americans, were consistently found innocent by a juries of their peers. For the Klan that meant all white juries, who shared deeply embedded beliefs based on bigotry and prejudice. That is exactly what the outcome of this charade in Edinburgh says about the nature of the jury in this case.

Having worked in Edinburgh for a period in 1990s, I was astonished by the casual bigotry found amongst the middle class professionals whom I came into contact in the course of my work. I remember in a bar in the city centre during coverage of an Ireland game in the World Cup a guy in an expensive suit demanding that the television be turned off as he didn’t want to have to watch what he referred to as ‘those Fenian bastards.’ This is worth remembering in light of the inaction of the Judge in the Wilson case who clearly felt that it wasn’t her job in any way to direct the jury to the evidence already before the court, or to warn them about the seriousness of the assault. Whether it was blind prejudice, or casual indifference on her part we’ll never know. What we do know and what can be seen on youtube at any time is the response of the Hearts supporters to the assault on Lennon on the evening in question. They literally went hysterical. apoplectic even. The record shows them launching into a particularly poisonous rendition of ‘The Billy Boys’ whilst attempting to goad and provoke the Celtic support into a response.

Given the decision by Hearts to literally add insult to injury by collectively punishing the Celtic support, it remain crystal clear that both ‘respectable’ and ‘not so respectable’ sections of Scottish society agree that any sort of abuse or attack on people in any way involved with Celtic is fair game. Personally I’d be in favour of hitting the bigots where it hurts, in their pockets by boycotting the next fixture at the Edinburgh bigot dome. But I do understand Celtic people are reluctant to abandon the team and if they decide to go then I’ll be there. The only good thing about the outcome of this trial is that it has once again exposed the true nature of Scottish society. Scotland for all its fancy tourist images and finely tuned 21st century messages about diversity remains a country in which substantial sections of the population retain 19th century sectarian and racist prejudices. Prejudices which still clearly inform a significant cross section of the inhabitants of the ‘capital’ city, including patrons of the trendy patisseries of Morningside and Cockburn Street.

 

Censors and Censorship

The case brought by a group of Rangers supporters, who, it has been suggested, were working with the full knowledge and support of the Rangers Board, against the website hosted by self-styled ‘rebel journalist’ Phil Mc Giolla Bhain, is a clear indication of just how serious those in the know around Ibrox are taking the financial crisis. It is also an indication of to how far they are prepared to go in order to try and hide the real situation with HMRC and intimidate those who they fear might be prepared to publish the truth.

It would be fair to say that most of the ‘scoops’ carried on the site where of the ‘only one prepared to publish’ variety, as opposed to earth shattering revelations. This simply illustrates just how paranoid those in the know in Govan are about leaks and whistle blowers. Of course the case represents an assault on freedom of speech by those who instigated it, buts that’s hardly news either. It wasn’t as if we thought that underneath the façade of bigotry and jingoism we have come to expect from the Govan club, that lurking underneath was anything other than bigotry and jingoism. I notice Phil is up and running again and it would be fair to say the whole thing has backfired spectacularly and afforded Mc Giolla Bhain much more publicity than he could have otherwise generated, allowing him to make an appeal for funds towards his new site which will see his bank account swell considerably.

 

Poetic Justice?

Following on the farcical outcome from the ‘courts of justice’ in Edinburgh, I think the entire Celtic family would have breathed a sigh of 'at last'& following the outcome of the FIFA ruling in elation to FC Sion. Clearly in this case justice was seen to be done. Having openly flouted the regulations, by including a large number of ineligible players in both games against Celtic, FC Sion had left FIFA no option but to expel them. The only thing that remains to be done is for FIFA to demand that FC Sion ask the Swiss bankers to come up with a suitable compensation package for all those Celtic fans (including my mates ‘Wee Ciaran’ and ‘Big Marty’ - who asked me to mention this idea - who spent a fortune and took valuable days off work which could have been used for more important fixtures) who were out of pocket as a result of travelling to such a meaningless tie.

I know our friends in Govan and Gorgie won’t begrudge us an opportunity to bring glory to the SPL, it’s only six glamour games between now and Christmas bringing in an estimated £5 million, which might be paltry compared to the Champions League but will tide us over till the draw for the ‘business end’ of the competition after Xmas. I’d settle for an opportunity to batter Real Madrid after they’re eliminated from the Champions League. But the reality is we may have to settle for the likes of Liverpool or Spurs. Still I suppose we shouldn’t complain. No doubt the rest of Scotland will this time really get behind the only team still representing the SPL in European competition. After all it would be a real boost for the ‘co-efficient’ thingy they’re always going on about. Away the Bhoys!

 
 

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1 comment
 
Graham 1888 says:
2011-09-07 23:19:37
 

Hi Vincent,
Hope all is well.
I have mixed feelings about the Sion debacle. Celtic should have enough quality to beat a side like that. It's embarrasing that we need to qualify by default into the group stages of a weak Europa League which is completely overshadowed by the prestige and quality of the Champions League.

It's a far cry from the heady days under O'Neill and also Strachan. I remember making a posting in the old boot room on the day of Strachan's departure, I basically made the point that it could be a long time before we are beating the likes of AC Milan and Man United again. The fans were far too harsh on Strachan.

Graham

 
 
 

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