The Irish government has become involved in a controversy following the recent Old Firm game with Glasgow Rangers Vs Celtic. The latest problem arose from the first Old Firm derby of the season, at Celtic Park on August 31, which Rangers won 4-2.During the game, a section of supporters sang to the tune of Sloop John B, the chorus of the parody runs: “The Famine’s over, why don’t you go home?”.The song, which in its full version runs to four verses and is considered vehemently anti-Irish, prompted a complaint from a Glasgow-born Celtic fan of Irish ancestry, to the Irish Embassy in London. The Irish Consul General in Scotland, Cliona Manahan, was asked by the Embassy to investigate the matter and replied to the supporter in question.Club comment“Rangers Football Club approached Strathclyde Police for guidance on this matter, with a view to issuing a joint statement indicating that persons singing this song in future may face the possibility of arrest. Strathclyde Police were not able to commit to this until they had carried out further investigation.”Rangers Football Club has a long-established policy of encouraging sporting behaviour at all our matches and as a matter of policy discourages the singing of songs which others may find discriminatory or offensive. Clearly, The Famine Song has provoked such a response in certain quarters. It is the club’s view that the interest of our supporters and the club will be best served by supporters refraining from singing The Famine Song.””Clearly some supporters feel aggrieved that a song they believe to be no more than a tit for tat ‘wind up’ of Celtic supporters should be singled out in this way and merit the attention of police, governments and anti-racism organisations. In recent times, the absence of sanction or attention directed at any other club supports the contention that this is very much a one-way street. This is despite the best efforts of this Club to highlight such issues in constructive discussion with the relevant authorities.”The Club shares supporters’ frustration that offensive and wholly unacceptable songs such as those ‘celebrating’ the Ibrox disasters or inciting death threats to our players are sung by supporters of other clubs on a regular basis with little or no comment or reprimand from any quarter.Ireland’s racism and sectrarianism problemEarlier this year Celtic escaped a fine because the sectarian songs were by fans in the city centre area of Barcelona, which was outside the jurisdiction of UEFA.In Ireland, we have recently seen a case taken before the Equality Tribunal which found in favour of an English worker for anti-English racism. Last year, Fermanagh hurler Darren Graham dropped out of the game temporarily because of sectarian abuse. Following years of fundamental demographic change, we are now entering a new challenging period of economic change. With this change, there is a more urgent need for the Irish government to address the issues of racism and sectarianism in Ireland, so that racist and sectarian behaviour is minimised.To date this year the Integrate Ireland Language and Training programme has been closed with the loss of 40 jobs and the government failed to continue the Integration Fund which supported 22 local partnerships and non-government organisations to promote integration.As it is, the NPAR (National Action Plan against Racism) programme of the government ends in December and there are no indications as yet of a follow on programme. We are calling on the Minister for Integration to clarify his plans for government action in this area.