‘Sectarianism and anti-Irishness in Scotland is a serious issue’, says diplomat

By on February 20, 2014
Rangers v Celtic

Pat Bourne said that “anti-Irishness in Scotland is a serious issue”

THE ‘APPALLING’ legacy of sectarianism in Scotland must be eradicated, says Ireland’s only diplomat stationed in the country.

For Pat Bourne, based at Ireland’s Consulate General in Edinburgh, the acts of anti-Irishness reported since he took up the position are ‘disturbing’.

“The lingering and continuing legacy of sectarianism and anti-Irishness in Scotland is a serious issue,” the Dublin native told The Irish Post.

“I would not want to overstate the scale of that, or the frequency in which that comes up, but it is an issue and the Irish community in Britain and Scotland will have noted some of the incidents over the past few months.”

Mr Bourne, who took up the Consul General position in November, claims he was shocked to read of the British soldiers who were filmed singing allegedly sectarian songs at an armed forces day at the Ibrox stadium last September.

Investigations by Police Scotland and the British Army were launched following the event, but were completed and closed with no further action taken.

anthony blair-n

Anthony Blair claims he was “kicked out” of a Glasgow taxi with his brother for speaking Irish Gaelic

Just weeks later two young people were allegedly thrown out of a Glasgow taxi for speaking in their native Irish tongue, as reported in The Irish Post. Glasgow council’s investigation into that incident is on-going.

“The appalling case of British soldiers seemingly engaging in anti-Irish sectarian singing and chanting on video was quite disturbing,” Mr Bourne said.

“And the fact that no action seems to have been taken, is quite disappointing.”

He added: “The eviction from a taxi cab of two young Irish people, apparently just for no other reason than the fact that they were speaking the Irish language, is again quite disturbing.”

Mr Bourne now hopes to tackle sectarianism during his four-year term in Scotland.

“I wouldn’t draw links between these events or say there is a pattern here, but even a single incident like this is just not acceptable in a modern democratic country that serves human rights, standards and the norms in the 21st century,” he said.

“We should not be complacent or satisfied until sectarianism is completely consigned to history and wiped out altogether,” he added.

“That’s one area I really would like to make progress on in the years that I am here.”

Fiona Audley

About Fiona Audley

Fiona Audley is Regional Editor with The Irish Post. You can follow her on Twitter @fifiaudley


  1. Michael Reilly

    February 20, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    The recently introduced Offensive Behaviour at Football Act is just one other example of how the Scottish establishment have manipulated law to justify criminalising people for displaying their Irish heritage.

  2. chabroon

    February 20, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Dear sir I think you should look at this another way it is not anti irish it is anti irish terrorism that might be the root cause of these very very small number of alleged incidents that are spoken of hear.
    Some folk are still upset about this continual wanton murder of innocent British folk.

  3. Danny Kelly bbc

    February 27, 2014 at 11:31 am

    That is only the tip of the iceberg anti Irish Catholicism is ingrained in Scottish society

  4. Ewan Macintyre

    March 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Yes, sectarianism in Scotland is shameful. So is the fact that only about 1% of the Scottish population speaks Scotland’s Celtic language.

    Why was Malcolm MacDonald the only Scottish Gael to play for Celtic FC? He must have stopped speaking Gaelic outdoors as a child. Does that not seem odd?

    (B’i Ghàidhlig cainnt na dachaigh ach ged a thuigeadh Calum a h-uile facal cha bhruidhneadh e ach Beurla. “Cha bhiodh e air a bhith ‘cool’ airson balach òg,” tha O’Henley ag ràdh, “a bhith a’ bruidhinn na Gàidhlig air sràidean cruaidhe Garngad.”)

    (Gaelic was the language of the home but although Malcolm understood every word he spoke only in English. “It would not have been ‘cool’ for a young fellow,” says [Alex] O’Henley, “to speak Gaelic on the hard streets of Garngad.”)

    The uncomfortable truth is that people of Irish extraction in Scotland are every bit as anti-Gaelic as the rest. I know – because I have been on the receiving end of their insults, especially in my own childhood.

    Incidentally, George Galloway treats Scots Gaelic with contempt. He, too, is of Irish extraction.

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