UNIONIST politicians have voiced their “disgust” after a ‘rebel song’ commemorating 10 brave Irish republicans who died in the 1981 Hunger Strike reached number 24 in the UK singles’ charts.
The Roll of Honour lyrics
Read the roll of honour of Ireland’s bravest men.We must be united in memory of the ten. England you’re a monster, don’t think you have won.We will never be defeated while Ireland has such sons. In those dreary H-Block cages, ten brave young Irishmen lay. Hungering for justice as their young lives ebbed away. For their rights as Irish soldiers and to free their native land. They stood beside their leader – the gallant Bobby Sands. Now they mourn Hughes in Bellaghy. Ray McCreesh in Armagh hills. In those narrow streets of Derry, they miss O’Hara still. They so proudly give their young lives to break Britannia’s hold. Their names will be remembered as history unfolds. Through the war-torn streets of Ulster the black flags did sadly sway. To salute ten Irish martyrs the bravest of the brave. Joe McDonnell, Martin Hudson, Kevin Lynch, Korean Doherty. They gave their lives for freedom with Thomas McElwee. Michael Define from Derry you were the last to die. With your nine brave companions with the martyred dead you lie. Your souls cry out: “Remember, our deaths were not in vain. Fight on and make our homeland a nation once again!”.
The Roll of Honour rocketed up the ‘hit list’ this week after Celtic supporters in Scotland launched a campaign to see it reach number one by Sunday by downloading via the internet. The move came after the Scottish authorities outlawed the singing of Irish ‘rebel songs’ at Scottish football grounds under the Offensive Behaviour At Football Act. The campaign is being organised by a Celtic supporters’ umbrella group, Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC), which has been given permission to release the song by folk band, The Irish Brigade. Originally penned in the 1980s, the song pays tribute to 10 IRA and INLA members who died during the 1981 Hunger Strike. The song’s lyrics include the line: “England you’re a monster, don’t think that you won, we will never be defeated while Ireland has such sons.” And in the final line calls on people to “fight on” for a free Ireland. A number of people have been convicted for singing the song at Scottish football grounds while several are currently awaiting trial.
Despite this, last April a Celtic fan was cleared of inciting public disorder by a Scottish court after he was detected singing the song at a football game in Dundee. Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesman Tom Elliot said the FAC campaign was an “absolute disgrace and I condemn their actions without reservation.” He also urged Celtic Football Club to take action. “This is not an issue that can be swept under the carpet. Stern action is required so that the club’s good name is not tarnished by assocation with people who would seek to glorify terrorism,” he said. Loyalist victims’ groups have also condemned the campaign. Rebel songs have been sung by a section of the Celtic support for many decades. Other songs with an Irish theme regularly heard at Celtic games include The Fields of Athenry and the ballad of Aidan McAnespie – a young GAA player shot dead by the British army near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone in 1988. A spokesman for FAC defended the download campaign. “The campaign is not about encouraging people to sing the song, it’s about saying this song should not be a criminal offence to sing,” she said. “It’s not a criminal offence unless you are a football fan. “The Offensive Behaviour At Football Act is a bad law which attempts to restrict freedom of expression and that is wrong.” A sectarian song associated with Rangers supporters led to months of unrest and the creation of a new parades flashpoint in Belfast after it was played by a loyalist band outside St Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Belfast. The anti-Catholic lyrics of The Famine Song instruct the Irish community in Scotland to “go home”. Loyalist Billy Hutchinson called the campaign “insensitive and childish.” The Progressive Unionist Party leader said: “Many people will find this initiative callous and insentive, particularly those who have been victims of republican violence and terror. “There seems to be an increase in sectarianism associated with fans of Celtic FC and I think it is time the club acted to address this. “This really amounts to nothing more than a pathetic and childish act, and those responsible need to grow up.”
With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News.
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