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4 September 2017 Edition

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Minority Reporter: Scotland’s Bad Attitude Towards Her Own Irish

Book Review

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s had shown me, a Scottish Protestant, that anti-Irish racism and bigotry were real

WE TOOK STICK for publishing Minority Reporter by Phil Mac Giolla Bháin. It wasn’t just that the author had previously written Downfall: How Rangers FC Self-Destructed, or that he supported Celtic. It was more than these things. 

He’s Irish, even spelling his name in Irish, which some in the West of Scotland would consider ‘provocative’. Being Irish was something they’d ‘tolerate’ but if you pushed them too far by not hiding at the back of bus, then you were asking for it – like Neil Lennon at Ibrox in recent weeks. 

So fragile is that ‘tolerance’.

Apparently, Minority Reporter was a “divisive” book, as if highlighting division was a greater crime than creating and maintaining it. Some retorted that anti-Irish racism is a figment of a victim-esque imagination and, if anything like it existed, then it was bigoted rather than racist. How that helped their case is unclear. 

Growing up in Glasgow in the 1970s, however, had shown me, a Scottish Protestant, that anti-Irish racism and bigotry were real. 

I remember someone complaining about how Shawlands was “too Irish now”. When someone else said folk have to live somewhere, he replied, “Aye, Ireland. Where they belong!” Another acquaintance who loved Italian food replied, when it was pointed out that Italians were Catholics, that “at least they aren’t Irish”. Such small examples were dotted throughout everyday life.

They were indicative of a common mind-set not considered controversial enough to even mask. Had such comments been made about Blacks or Asians (or Eastern Europeans nowadays), they would properly be called racist. No debate. 

There’s no doubt things have improved greatly since the 1970s. However, even in 2017, some are singing gleefully about the Irish Famine and that the Irish should “go home”. While such racism exists in Scotland, books like Minority Reporter calling it out have every right to be written and published. In fact, it’s vital they are.

•  Minority Reporter: Scotland’s Bad Attitude Towards Her Own Irish, by Phil Mac Giolla Bháin, Frontline Noir Publishing, €13.99, available from usual outlets and on Kindle.

By Bob Smith Walker


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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