By Rory Reynolds
A SPOKESMAN for the Rangers Supporters Trust has sparked a furious row after claiming it was not bigoted to call a Celtic fan a “dirty Fenian bastard.”
David Edgar, the trust’s media spokesman, also defended the singing of the Famine Song – which has been banned at Ibrox – by fans as “no big deal”.
Edgar made the claims in a new book, Rangers: Triumphs, Troubles, Traditionals, saying that the significance of The Famine Song has been overhyped.
An anti-sectarian group has hit out at Edgar, saying that the song is sung to cause “deep offence”.
In the book Edgar claims: “It was never aimed at Irish people and that is the important thing.
“It was sung as a dig against those who had this fake, romantic idea of what it means to be Irish.
“It could be used in a racist way, but it wasn’t racist in the context in which it was being sung.”
Edgar said that John Reid, Celtic chairman and former home secretary is responsible for “grandstanding” the chant.
He said: “Some people were arguing that The Sash is anti-Catholic, which is clearly wrong.
“It is pro-Protestant and what is wrong with that?
“Celtic…couldn’t be any more Irish if they brought on Paddy McGinty’s goat.
“But Rangers are told they can’t be proud of their Scottish Protestant unionist history and it sticks in the craw of many fans.”
He added that a disproportionate amount of pressure has been put on Rangers fans to drop songs related to
Edgar does say that he supports attempts to ban songs about the Pope and about terrorist and paramilitary groups.
However he says that those making sectarian remarks at Old Firm games should not necessarily be targeted.
He added: “You will get an otherwise sensible person like a doctor, a lawyer or and accountant who, with a few beers in them, will stand up and call someone a dirty Orange bastard or a dirty Fenian bastard.
“Is it right? No, but it doesn’t mean they are bigots.”
Edgar also claimed that efforts to rid the stands of sectarianism at Ibrox had ruined the stadium’s atmosphere, and led to a “fear factor”.
He said: “Fans are not sure of what is and what is not acceptable – there is a Big Brother attitude.
“The club are scared and their philosophy is ‘sit down, shut up, buy a pie, and don’t do anything.’”
A spokesperson for the anti-sectarianism campaign group Nil By Mouth said that Edgar’s comments were “disappointing”, adding: “The Famine Song exists and is sung in order to cause deep offence.”
A spokesman for Rangers said the club was committed to acting against all racist, sectarian and anti-social behavior.
He added: “We meet regularly with supports representing all fans’ groups.”