Scots and Irish MEPs Meet Amid Old Firm ‘Famine Song’ Furore

18 November 2008
Alyn Smith SNP MEP for Scotland has agreed that his Irish counterpart, Fine Fail MEP Eoin Ryan, will come to Scotland at Mr Smith's invitation to see first hand efforts underway to combat sectarianism in football.

Mr Smith, himself a Glaswegian raised in Larkhall, intervened after Mr Ryan raised on the floor of the European Parliament in Strasbourg the conduct of Rangers fans during the club's most recent game.

Mr Smith has arranged meetings in principle with anti sectarian organisations, the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the Old Firm football clubs.

Smith said:

"Eoin's criticism last night of sectarianism in the Old Firm was well aimed, and hit home, and it seems right that given we work together in Europe on so many issues we should work together on this also. A lot of good work has been done in Scotland to combat sectarianism, on all sides, and I am not going to stand by and watch a limited few mindless thugs damage our special relationship with the Irish.

"I know Eoin agrees that sectarianism on all sides is equally offensive, and I hope he will see Scotland to meet with all sides and reassure himself and his constituents that the government of Scotland, and all points of the political spectrum, are committed to ridding us of this tiddly toy town poison in our national game. It was Rabbie Burns who said that we should "see ourselves as others see us" and I hope those responsible on both sides of the Old Firm will think on.

"Organisations like Nil By Mouth have been doing some fantastic work in building bridges, and I hope that by introducing them to Eoin we can put right some of the damage that has been done to Scotland's reputation in the eyes of some of our closest friends."