Minority Reporter – Book Review

Minority Reporter – Book Review

Modern Scotland’s Bad Attitude Towards Her Own Irish

by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain

This is a hard book to condense down to a review, I don’t mean that in a bad way. Simply there is so much information of worth included that I could haveminority reporter cover happily written 10,000 words on it. Anti Irish racism in Scotland has never been seriously tackled in the way discrimination and racism has against other minority groups. The treatment dished out to Neil Lennon by both the Rangers support and the media in 21st century Scotland is proof of that.

The book lays down a marker before it even opens up with a preface written by Irish footballer Kieron Brady. Born in Scotland Brady decided that he wanted to represent the Republic of Ireland at international level. ‘No big deal, lots of players turn out for Scotland who weren’t born here’ you may say but unfortunately it is in Scotland. Especially if you pick the Republic of Ireland.

Throughout the book the author, Irish Journalist and blogger Phil Mac Giolla Bhain investigates and shines a light on this dark stain on Scottish society.

The book contains three main sections.  Each section contains new researched material and blogs taken from the authors site. In most cases the blogs frame the timeline of major stories and incidents that have taken place both in Scotland and elsewhere.

Section one traces the history of the infamous ‘Famine Song’ and it’s subsequent banning on the grounds of racism. The author guides us through the events surrounding the songs birth and how the mainstream media and some in power tried to fob it off as ‘banter’.

Section two deals with the vile treatment handed out to Neil Francis Lennon. The author tries to examine the reasons behind Lennon’s disgraceful treatment by the press and ‘The Klan’ from the moment he set foot inside Celtic Park. It would appear that Lennon’s main crime was that of being an ‘Uppity Taig’.

Section three titled ‘An Illicit Ethnicity’? Gives an insight into what I perceived as  ‘connected’ issues and happenings. I found this section of the book the most profound in many ways. I felt it stripped bare the depth of anti Irish feeling and a certain group who need to feel superior to others and going to horrible lengths to fulfil that. Also how once again press and senior politicians will try to hide racism behind the guise of sectarianism. It’s a bad day when you  defend something by classing it as sectarian and not racist

In the authors last book ‘Downfall’ there were numerous mentions of the ‘Elephant in the room’ relating to the deceased clubs tax liabilities. In this book there is also an ‘Elephant in the room’, Anti Irish Racism. Everyone in Scotland knows it’s there but no one wants to admit it and some certainly do not want to talk about it.

This is an excellent book and I feel it’s release is timely. After all we only have a year left to decide what sort of society we want to have in the ‘best wee country’ in the World. As I said at the start I could have written pages on this. I could have talked about the contribution from learned and respected people, but I won’t. I want people to read this book for themselves.

You can buy the book at Amazon . Also available in all good bookstores.




14 thoughts on “Minority Reporter – Book Review

  1. Of course, this antipathy to expressions of Irish identity came to Scotland from Ireland. One third of 19 & 20th century immigrants were Irish Protestants keen to express theor supremacism. This is why the phenomenon is so poorly understood by many ‘native’ Scots.

  2. Wullie

    It is a subject that definitely and, it would appear, obviously needs addressed. I am just a little concerned about whether Phil is the author who will provide an impartial picture. He has form for not pulling his punches but appears to me to be sometimes suspect in his aggression. I want to have a clear and proper picture as it is a topic I want to discuss with utter confidence in the truth. I do not want any tinted glasses when reading about this subject. Then again, does the subject itself, given the years of bias, demand partiality. Perhaps you could add a comment for clarity. Knowing how you speak your mind on contentious issues would go along way towards my decision to read the book. One of the reasons I hesitated, is because I found, speaking to people when I was over there this year, that many in Eire are unaware or pay little attention to these claims. I am aware that Northern Ireland may differ. But it does in many an ideology. Or, perhaps one needs to live in Scotland to experience the full blast of this racism and I have to confess that being of third generation Irish decent, I did not personally come across an intense Irish racism in the sectarianism I experienced. There again, perhaps my generation, like those before, were duped “by classing it as sectarian and not racist”. “Everyone in Scotland knows it’s there but no one wants to admit it and some certainly do not want to talk about it.” Yes, Wullie, that is where I require clarity.

    I apologise but I may not be able to make a speedy reply to any comments you make as I will be out most of the day – I would volunteer for things. I then spend the day regretting having done so. But, in the end it is very satisfying when a plan comes together 🙂

    Get back to you later sometime.

    H H

    1. Wullie

      I just thought of another reason why I may have a rather warped picture. I was born and bred near Motherwell in one of the most Catholic villages in Britain. Though I did hear and experience sectarianism like everyone else, on the whole, I had a rather sheltered upbringing. I did not experience the seemingly ruthless abuse of Glaswegian Irish Catholics. I am sure that would probably have made a profound difference.

      H H

      1. Hi PB, The concerns you raise are valid. I do a few book reviews every year and it’s usually books from people I know and have met like Phil and Paul Larkin. That being the case I try my best to divorce my personal feelings and concentrate on reading the books as an outsider.

        I would say that in this case the author has went to great lengths via historical plus contemporary research, the inclusion of evidence and testimony from some prominent people to put meat on the bones. This is certainly a contentious issue but overall the book does ,in my opinion satisfy the sub title with cold , hard facts.

        As with any book it’s all down to the readers interpretation. However I would recommend it.


        1. Much appreciated, Wullie. It sounds as though it is worth the read at least for some perspective from the other side as it were. I am aware we can all pass over real and painful issues because they do or have not impacted directly on our lives. Perhaps that is the very times we should search out more of the truth. I guess Amazon is due a visit. Cheers.

          H H Arthur

      2. Arthur I am from Edinburgh as you know, we have 3 Edinburgh people on here I know about, one is a BRILLIANT lad. We all talk from time to time, sometimes on Skype and the common theme is none of us can relate to the stories we hear. When I was on Twitter I would often Skype with Lorenzo, Glasgowsgreenandwhite, Brybhoy 67, a few times with Tommy in Glasgow and many many others..And they are all super lads, really they are. But when the West Coast lads would tell me the story “When I was a kid going to a Catholic School I would get beat up by Huns” I just can’t relate to that AT ALL!!! I try and put myself in their shoes and I do understand why they would hate the blue half. But I was born into a different hatred, hatred is hatred right? This was nothing to do with football nor religion or politics, I survived and now I am all growed (yeah growed lol) up I put it behind me. The way I see it and I guess you will agree is, if we live in the past, the present will always be the past. Meaning the hatred or dislike will always be there. I grew up in a place where if Edinburgh needed an check up it’s arse they would check where I grew up, I know one Edinburgh Tim who will differ knowing where he is from, lol…And it was tough, I seen things NO kid should see. But I have kids now, my job as a father is to shield them from it, it doesn’t exist in my sons (2 Hearts fans, yeah I fucked up) at all, they know small parts but they don’t and will never live the life I did. My 2 princess’s who are 3 and 4, well, they are girls, I have a different worry there, lol, I have a few mates with Daughters the same age as my son’s and I don’t know if the stories they tell me are true or if they are at the wind-up, 2nd one sounds like the bastards.. .lol..

        So like you when I came to twitter and the story about them came out, as I joined twitter funnily causing DEEP suspicion, but truly I had just snapped my knee and was bored, Ended up with 5,000 followers, god only knows how that happened, but story after story about how Catholics suffered in the West really was new to me, I had to look at Scotland as a whole new country. I had the Billy Connolly (Hope he is ok) version in my mind, Short bread tins and bagpipes. Then I started talking to Scottish born kids (early 20’s) and adults who had NEVER been to Ireland but held very republican views, in one guy it was fierce, but I respected the lads passion at least. With one he kept talking about an organisation I had no interest in at all and was accused of hating all things Celtic because of that lol…

        Anyway this is turning into a book here…
        But yeah, like you I didn’t grow up with it like the bhoys and Ghirls from the West


        1. Just one small correction S.. ““When I was a kid going to a Catholic School I would get beat up by Huns” ( I ate my porridge mate. 🙂

          1. I am well aware buddy…
            It is hard for me to think how hard it must have been for you guys, as it is hard for people who had it this way find it hard that we/others don’t fully understand it..But as we all read from the same page, it is up to us to educate each other well. From birth mainly. A clever lad once told me this hatred was genetic and taught from birth. 😉

            Least we ain’t them, we don’t cause conflict…
            Best fans in the World, Being serious. No Twitter daft remarks there.


    2. Cracking comment there Arthur and I know you meant it with all due respect, but you raise a very valid point. Should we want to discuss any topic, we can’t allow ourselves to become the hatred that we ourselves dislike. That would be counter productive and a backwards step, so very well said.. I will read the book and give my honest opinion. Phil has been doing this MANY years and knows what he is doing, I have been doing it 6 months for my paper (As well as here, my blog and Bloggers for Peace and a few others) so I am in no position to tell him anything 😀
      But like you I have my own thoughts and I jump on no bandwagons to curry favour with anyone. If ANYONE writes a book, does a blog, an article, whatever they are putting their head on a block and they MUST accept criticism and people who don’t agree. What I have noticed on my journey if we want to call it that over the last few years is people who do write whatever then fail badly at discussing it with people, they block questions and people because they don’t or can’t turn the coin over and see the other argument or side of the debate. I am here AGAIN NOT LOGGED IN AS A TCN WRITER, I am logged in through my own blog, so my views here are my own and not that of TCN, if the irony of that makes sense 😀

      Good chat here, hope it stays real..


  3. Going to buy this one, the content is something I do have an interest in myself, I am not a writer really bit I write about this on a global scale, and it’s the same story. In some countries ethnic cleansing still happens, just don’t expect it on the news. In Scotland I think I was lucky I grew up on the East Coast. But the Hatred still came to me, from fellow Celtic fans. So this book will be a book I am looking forward to reading. I think Scotland is a Catholic hating place and anything towards our cause is deemed laughable and “Just a wee joke” Hugh Dallas got sacked for sending an email through the official SFA email. This for me shows it is through football, politics and more. The question remains however, do we fight back, fire with fire, or do we become the better people. My experience was we are not the better people. Far from it. I am just being honest. I am not logged in here as a TCN writter, I am writing this through my own blog. To say Celtic fans don’t hate would be foolish. But I became the better man and walked away smiling.

    If only we all could. Anger is a strange issue when it comes to religion. Religion is NOT the problem, people are the problem. So nobody can point a finger at religion, it is born and taught into people. I was born to hate, but not through religion or God, so when I met it, it made me step back and think “Woah” I was under the impression I was on the side of the good guys. Maybe I am? But I decided to look after number one.
    Same as many have, like here with this book…

    I can’t wait to read it…and anger through religion exists, anyone want to give me a hard time to prove I am correct? I think you all know where I am coming from here. I think we all need to look in the mirror. We use religion and cultural issues as an excuse to hate. Forget all that. Hate is taught and given, we have choice to say no and be good people yeah?

    Good on you Phil, I look forward to reading pal.


    1. Hi Shaun

      I am well aware this is a passion of yours and how you have argued strongly against the “religion excuse”. I guess it depends on one’s interpretation of the word religion. If it is merely an organised aiming to draw distinctions between one way of life and another to suit purpose or to create division, then stick it. If it is about living decent all inclusive lives, then I agree wholeheartedly. Personally, I gave up religion quite some time ago. Now I simply believe in a spiritual philosophy that satisfies my personal needs and encourages my respect for my fellow man. I find guidance for this way of life in the Catholic Church but also in recent years by sharing the Anglican way, as my wife is one (RC on a Saturday evening and C. of E. on a Sunday morning – glutton for punishment some might say :)). If people want to call my Christianity a religion then fine. If people wish to classify my particular mode of Christianity as Catholic religion or my wife’s as Anglican religion, then fine. For us, it is simply a way of life that takes us closer to spiritual satisfaction, the love of our neighbour and provides an even stronger bond between us (Now, now – not that bondage, tut, tut).

      However, spiritual development demands a deepening of understanding and I am learning, even though somewhat late in life, that part of that process includes painful explorations of the human frailty, including mine, that drives man to hate and destroy his fellow man. It can be very obvious in the modern world given the slaughter through the world but have to confess I have been negligent in examining more closely how this happens, at least psychologically, on my very doorstep. While I am wary of being overly influenced by my past and intense affiliation to regimental Catholicism and sometimes embellished Irish heritage, I am confident I will recognise any chaff that grows through the wheat in Phil’s book.

      I look forward to further debate once I have read it and most likely learned a great deal.

      H H

      1. ps: You won’t learn much more from me mate, lol

        Great reply Arthur, truly..
        I found “Something” in the last year or so. At first I hid it away, now I tell the world “I believe in MY God” I don’t pertain to any one religion either, but I do believe in God, my God. Religion I meant is in the context you had hoped, so I am glad. it is about living decent all inclusive life. But hey I am respectful of anyone’s religion. In my new blogging/writing life, I speak to thousands from all over the planet, religions I had not even heard about 😀 I realised faith is a very selfless act, people can praise any god they want, who am I to judge. BUT..When that person uses a religion or just is a dick and attacks me and calls themselves all God loving and say they go to Church on Sundays, I just laugh now. And this, again is from people all over the planet. I will give you a sample. I got 150+ ish awards for blogging, I by mistake gave this prick a nomination, check: http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/so-i-gave-a-person-an-award-he-asked-me-if-i-was-a-jew/ I didn’t miss him, and soon he couldn’t offend himself never mind a race of people. The lad was a fool, an uneducated fool at that.
        Over the last few months I have been away, found God and educated myself heavily in politics, world views, religion (I know, the irony) and all things really. If I am to write and blog I must be able to hold a simple debate. So education is key when it comes to dealing with hatred. With Mr Jew hater there in that blog I tried hard at first to reason with him, then gave in 😀 I got angry, I became him so to speak..But we are hear to learn Arthur, so these days I am one step ahead because I have educated myself further in hatred and love also..I used to be afraid to open up, show compassion etc, but with HARD PAIN comes love, compassion and more mate, it opens your soul up to hardships from others. I hope that made sense mate…Lets just say I changed. On Twitter, Celtic fans try to follow, I block, I been there did that, I won’t allow it to happen again. Someone wants to have a go, they do it here, and I am not the boss here..

        Thanks for taking time to reply and I love the fact you say you are still learning. That is a STRONG message for all us young know-it-all’s


  4. John I will be first to admit it flew over my head once, to a certain degree still does…
    Education is Key on all matters, more you know, more you can join in on a debate..On this issue, I would probably sit back and listen if I am being honest. I can only say, Like PB and others on TCN I speak to on Skype from Edinburgh, we don’t understand it, we never grew up in it. And had no need to want to know. Not until adulthood did we hear stories and think “Fuck off” lol..
    But it seems Scotland is indeed an Anti- Catholic shithole in parts..East coast also North from me..


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