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STOP POPE SONGS OF HATE; Rangers fans urged to ban bigoted chants.

RANGERS fans are being urged to stop their obscene chants against the Pope - officially.

The Rangers Supporters Clubs Association will recommend a motion banning all songs of bigotry.

But astonishingly, fans will not be asked to stop singing Orange anthem The Sash, or the words in The Billy Boys - "We're up to our knees in Fenian blood"."

The move follows Rangers' Scottish Cup victory celebrations which were marred by former Ibrox vice-chairman Donald Findlay QC singing sectarian songs at a private party.

Findlay resigned after coming under attack for his actions. Club chairman David Murray was among his critics.

The move also comes hard on the heels of the North American Rangers Supporters Association passing a motion banning members from singing and shouting offensive remarks about the Pope and Catholics.

Last week NARSA held a convention in Las Vegas at which the motion was passed.

Tom Plunkett, 50, who was the 1998-99 president and has lived in Canada and the United States for 30 years, put forward the motion on behalf of the Detroit Rangers Supporters Club which adopted the proposal at its AGM in January.

Speaking from the USA last night, he said: "We see nothing wrong with singing traditional Rangers songs like Follow, Follow or Every Second Saturday.

"But for a long time we have felt that sectarian chants have nothing to do with Rangers.

"What we object to is that the words of songs we knew as children have been altered to make them sectarian. There was nothing about the Vatican in Follow, Follow until comparitively recently.

"We also understand that shouting abuse about the Pope can be offensive. Any of our members caught doing so will be disciplined.

"I feel this is a positive move by NARSA and one which will be welcomed by Rangers Football Club.

"It was on our agenda long before Mr Findlay was caught on video singing sectarian songs. We have thought about it for a long time and eventually got enough support to put it forward as a motion at our AGM."

Lachie Macrae, President of the Florida RSC, said: "The singing of bigoted songs has been something that has concerned us for a long time.

"We hope our actions can be adopted in Scotland."

However, the Orange anthem The Sash My Father Wore will not be on their hit list as they do not consider it to be a sectarian song.

Mr Plunkett explained: "There is not a word in The Sash which could be construed as being offensive. It is no more offensive than The Fields of Athenry."

John McMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters' Clubs Association, welcomed the move by NARSA.

He said: "We as an Association support the North American move. It is the kind of thing we need - to celebrate the real meaning of the club instead of shouting obscene chants.

"Our AGM was held last month and we are in recess just now. But the executive committee has a representative council meeting in August.

"I would support anyone putting forward a motion along the lines of the NARSA one. We will be recommending that our members cut out the sectarian songs and chants - that is part of our policy."

Rangers chairman David Murray was unavailable for comment last night but a Club spokesman said: "Rangers FC supports any move to bring to an end the singing of sectarian songs and the shouting of sectarian chants.

"After all, it has been our objective to eradicate the sectarian element from Rangers Fotball Club and the Rangers support. Therefore, we fully support the NARSA motion."

ends

of the North American Rangers Supporters Association passing a motion banning members from singing and shouting off- ensive remarks about the Pope and Catholics.

Last week NARSA held a convention in Las Vegas at which the motion was passed.

Tom Plunkett, 50, who was the 1998-99 president and has lived in Canada and the United States for 30 years, put forward the motion on behalf of the Detroit Rangers Supporters Club which adopted the proposal at its AGM in January.

Speaking from the USA last night, he said: "We see nothing wrong with singing traditional Rangers songs like Follow, Follow or Every Second Saturday.

"But for a long time we have felt that sectarian chants have nothing to do with Rangers.

"What we object to is the words of songs we knew as children have been altered to make them sectarian. There was nothing about the Vatican in Follow, Follow until comparitively recently.

"Any of our members caught shouting abuse about the Pope will be disciplined."

Lachie Macrae, president of the Florida RSC, said: "The singing of bigoted songs has been something that has concerned us for a long time.

"We hope our actions can be adopted in Scotland."

The Sash, however, will not be on their hit list as they do not consider it to be sectarian.

Mr Plunkett explained: "There is not a word in The Sash which could be construed as offensive. It is no more offensive than The Fields of Athenry."

John McMillan, general secretary of the Rangers Supporters Clubs Association, welcomed the move by NARSA.

He said: "We need - to celebrate the real meaning of the club instead of shouting obscene chants."

A spokesman for Rangers Football Club said: "Rangers FC supports any move to bring to an end the singing of sectarian songs."
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Article Details
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Author:Stewart, Graeme
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 8, 1999
Words:898
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