Monday, 17 February 2014

Roll of Honour Campaign: assessment

Fans Against Criminalisation’s ‘Roll of Honour’ download campaign has now officially come to a close with the song incredibly reaching number 33 in the UK Official Singles Charts. Over the course of our campaign the song has also came in at number 15 on the iTunes singles download charts, number 32 in the Official Irish Charts and number 7 in the Scottish Charts.

 We would like to sincerely thank the Celtic fans for the manner in which they supported this initiative. We are immensely grateful to the thousands who downloaded the song, to those who gave up their time to help leaflet a cold and wet Celtic Park about the issue and to everyone who in some way helped to publicise our cause.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to The Irish Brigade, who generously allowed us to use their song for our campaign. The band recognise the scale of the problem currently facing football fans in Scotland and have helped FAC immeasurably as we seek to challenge the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act.

In launching this campaign, FAC sought to demonstrate how absurd it is that people run the risk of arrest and conviction on the basis of singing a song at a football match which would otherwise not be a criminal offence. Having now heard a short clip of this song on BBC Radio, we feel that we have made that point. It is wrong to criminalise a specific group of people in the manner in which this act targets only football supporters. It is an injustice that there is a backlog of Celtic fans awaiting trial for allegedly singing a song which could be bought on iTunes or heard on national radio.

On the issue of ‘Roll of Honour’ being given airtime, a BBC source stated “We believe it would be wrong to ban the song outright as free speech is an important principle’’. It is a great pity that The Scottish National Party, Police Scotland and our Lord Advocate do not equally value such a principle however the Celtic support have defiantly demonstrated that we will not bow down on this issue. We will continue to fight the criminalisation of football supporters and we refuse to allow our civil liberties to be infringed upon by this discriminatory legislation. The SNP would do well to take notice of the discontent regarding the treatment of football fans and call for an immediate review of this Act.

Fans Against Criminalisation

Monday, 10 February 2014

A statement from the Irish Brigade on the song Roll of Honour

It was an honour and privilege to be asked by Celtic Fans against Criminalisation’ to permit them to promote the song ‘The Roll of Honour’  to aid the funding of their campaign against the law that effects everyone with Irish roots or a love of Irish culture. Ballads have been an integral part of our culture and heritage from time in memorial and the role of the Bards and Street Singers holds a unique and honoured place in our history.

 I wrote the song ‘The Roll of Honour’ in 1982 at a time of great social and political upheaval in the North of Ireland. It was to commemorate the sacrifice of ten young men who died in the Hunger Strike of 1981. They, too, were protesting against Criminalisation. The song was a reflection of the thoughts, feelings and beliefs, held by many in Ireland and throughout the world who felt that these deaths could have been avoided if the Brittish Government at that time had not taken such a harsh and unbending attitude towards the prison crisis. The line “England, you’re a Monster” is figurative language and is a reference to this belief. The word ‘Monster’ is defined as someone ‘unnaturally cruel’ – The Government at that time. It is not or was not, at any time, to be construed as referring to the English Nation or the people of England, it is not a Racist remark. 

Neither is the song a sectarian song. It is an historic, social commentary about one stage in a long freedom struggle that is still continuing but that now uses democratic paths and institutions that did not exist in the early 80’s. The ten men commemorated in the ‘The Roll of Honour’ hope to bring about a land that would cherish… ‘…all the children of the Nation equally’ (Irish Proclamation, 1916). In the words of Wolfe Tone,  a protestant leader of The United Irishmen, they wish to establish a society which would ‘ substitute the name Irish Man in place of Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter’. The dream of Bobby Sands and his comrades was for a Nation where sectarianism and violence would be a thing of the past:

 ‘Our revenge will be the laughter of our children’ (Bobby Sands)

On behalf of The Irish Brigade.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Roll of Honour Download Campaign to be launched 8th February

Roll of Honour Download Campaign to be launched 9th February

Fans Against Criminalisation are delighted to announce plans to release the single ‘’Roll of Honour’’ in association with The Irish Brigade for the duration of the week beginning on 8th of February. This single will be available for download on iTunes. We would like to thank the band for kindly allowing us to use their song to help aid our campaign against the criminalisation of football supporters and the suppression of political expression.

Download the Roll of Honour any time in the week 9 -15 February inclusive and let’s get it into the UK Top 40 Singles Charts and   embarrass the hypocrites who seek to criminalise us.

This particular song is a ballad about civil resistance and a struggle for basic human rights and it has been a favourite of the Celtic support for over a decade. Shamefully, the SNP’s Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act has resulted in the song becoming a target for Police Scotland and numerous arrests have been made as a result. From its outset FAC has sought to oppose this discriminatory piece of legislation and to defend the rights of football supporter’s which have been continually eroded since the Act’s introduction.

We call on the Celtic family from all corners of the globe to support this campaign by downloading the single to help raise funds to aid the legal costs of those whose lives are being torn apart by this disgracefully illiberal law and to help further publicise the hypocrisy inherent within the government’s position.

Fans Against Criminalisation