These songs may be part of some of our cultural histories, and there are certainly nuanced moral arguments to be had about them. However that doesn’t mean they aren’t offensive to many, and inappropriate for a football game. The IRA are much more a part of Kenny Shiel’s personal history, in that they killed his brother. He shouldn’t have to listen to IRA songs while doing his because some of us harbour romantic notions about conflicts from 100 years ago.
So, continue to correct the media on the definition of sectarianism, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the vast majority of our fellow citizens find songs about people being killed repugnant or irrelevant. When Celtic fans sing a song, all other Celtic fans are implicated by other teams. The same is true of Rangers, Arsenal and whoever else. Celtic fans are very studious in not singing songs that assume the person next to them in the stand is a Catholic. We should be equally respectful in not assuming they support armed struggle.
The song that really encapsulates this for me is “like me and you [Neil Lennon] is a provo too”. It’s inclusion in the last game against Motherwell was the one negative on a day brim full of positives. In one sentence this declares three people to Provos: me, Neil Lennon, and the singer.
I can say that I’m not, and don’t appreciate other people declaring that I am.
Neil Lennon has made clear in the past that he is not, pointing out that he wouldn’t have played for Northern Ireland if he was.
The singer may be a Provo, but I think it’s unlikely. If he/she was they would be at home making letter bombs rather than at a football game singing songs. I don’t believe any offshoot of the IRA has a “wee guys singing songs to annoy people at bus stops” cell.
I think the club are right to use the political capital Neil Lennon has built up by his resolve against the various offences committed against him this season to pull the club the way he wants it to go, and away from any association with violence. The only way we will get away from the (also inaccurate) “they’re as bad as each other” is to not be bad at all. Too much energy is expended on saying “we’re not as bad as Rangers” and not enough on being better than we are.