By Shaun Milne
A PET parrot has been branded “sectarian” for whistling Rangers anthems The Sash and Follow Follow at neighbours.
Rio, an African Grey parrot, was taught the tunes by his owner and Rangers fan Linda Gillies at her home in Whitburn, West Lothian.
But a brassed off neighbour was so angry at being taunted by the bird whenever it was let out into the back garden, they reported the matter.
West Lothian Council and her landlords at Horizon Housing Association both launched inquiries into the bird’s performance and visited her home to monitor the row.
But both have now decided to take no further action at the address in Loch Linnhe Court where Linda has stayed for 10-years with Rio, daughter Lauren, 17, and cousin Mary Smillie, 57.
She could have been booted out if they had ruled her guilt of anti-social behaviour.
Instead Linda, 45, has decided to keep bluenosed inside to maintain the peace – but denies claims her bird is a bigot.
She said: “When I heard there had been a complaint about sectarian singing, I thought it was a joke.
“A man from the council came to see me and told me about it, but said he thought it was funny and couldn’t believe there had been a complaint.
“A few weeks later someone from Horizon contacted me too.”
She added: “We used to put Rio out in the back garden in his cage for some fresh air, but not any more.
“I decided to keep Rio inside to stop any complaint.”
Cousin Mary, who is disabled and cared for by Linda, said their bird was multi-talented.
She said: “We support Rangers and he sings those songs.
“But he does other songs like The Great Escape, which England supporters use, and just picks things up from us like ‘Hiya son’ and ‘cheerio’ whenever we leave the house.”
One neighbour and fellow Rangers fan Stewart Heggie, 34, said: “It’s the highlight of the summer when the sun is out and Rio is in the back garden singing.
“The kids round here love him – so I can’t see why anyone is complaining.”
The name of the person who made the original complaint was not available, but Jim Watt, from Horizon Housing Association, confirmed they had launched an investigation.
He said: “We received a complaint from one of our tenants.
“We spoke to the tenant with the pet as well as other neighbouring tenants, and we took the view that there had not been anti-social behaviour which would include sectarian behaviour.”
West Lothian Council declined to comment, but confirmed a complaint had been received.