Belfast Telegraph

Old Firm notoriously tribal, but religion has no bearing on Glasgow allegiances

By Adrian Rutherford

Home to the Old Firm, the huge Irish following for Glasgow's famous football clubs puts the city at the heart of the historic links between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Every weekend hundreds of fans make the pilgrimage to watch Rangers and Celtic, the two powerhouses of Scottish football whose decades-old rivalry has long been carved out along religious lines.

Comprising almost 600,000 people, Glasgow is one of the key battlegrounds where the independence issue will be won and lost.

Unlike the football rivalry, the yes/no debate transcends the city's traditional dividing lines.

On the internet there are both pro and anti-independence groups for supporters of Rangers, which traditionally has had a strong Protestant fanbase.

One Yes voter is Callum Richards.

"Voting Yes has nothing to do with the fact that I'm a Rangers supporter," he said.

"This isn't a religious debate, it's about what is best for Scotland's future. I'm not going to let my support of Rangers dictate my political views."

On its blog, the Yes Rangers campaign states: "Independence isn't about sticking it up the English people. It's about getting rid of an increasingly unfair Westminster governance. A Westminster who, no matter which party or coalition seems to be in power, doesn't act in Scotland's best interests."

However, other Rangers fans who are voting against an independent Scotland insist they are in the majority.

Matt Gillen said: "I've heard of maybe two or three who will vote for independence, the vast, vast majority are against it."

Another Glaswegian, Jamesie Kirk, said: "I don't need to vote for independence to show how Scottish I am."

Outside of football, Glasgow people are unsurprisingly as divided as the rest of the country on independence.

Susanna Gawn, who is originally from Ballyclare but works in the public sector in the city, intends voting no.

"It's taking too much of a risk with our future," she said. "There is too much unknown surrounding it with regards to pensions, mortgage rates and the currency, which is a massive one.

"I don't see any real gain to going independent. Things are fine the way they are. There is no model that we can look at that has been successful."

A significant amount of voters remain undecided.

With opinion polls showing just six points between the Yes and No camps, how the undecided vote will be crucial.

Among those not totally decided is Jennifer Wilson, a Glasgow-born teacher.

She said: "I actually think people are pragmatic about the issue.

"The idea of Scottish independence might appeal to people but I'm not sure the reality or whether being independent or just semi-autonomous really matters at the end of the day.

"I haven't fully made up my mind, so the likelihood is I will vote No, but as a voter I just want what is best for Scotland. I'm not sure the problems which could arise, such as a new currency with all the issues that could entail, make independence worth it."

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