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Editor's Viewpoint

Football fans start blame game again



Rangers fans celebrate on the Shankill Road

Rangers fans celebrate on the Shankill Road

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Rangers fans celebrate on the Shankill Road

No one can begrudge Rangers fans their moment of glory, capturing the Scottish Premier League title for the first time in 10 years after their most hated rivals Celtic racked up nine in a row.

During that period Rangers were dropped down to the fourth tier of Scottish football after becoming insolvent and it has been a long road back to the glory days the club once took for granted.

That said, many fans in both Scotland and in the Shankill area of Belfast did their image little good by defying advice to obey anti-Covid lockdown rules on crowds.

Even a dyed-in-the-wool fan like the DUP’s Gregory Campbell had appealed to the Rangers fans not to congregate in large numbers.

What the supporters should remember — there will probably be other excuses for celebration before the season ends — is that by running the risk of spreading the Covid-19 virus they are potentially extending the period of lockdown.

What everyone wants is a return to normality and a time when football fans can again go to matches and cheer on their teams in safety.

That demands acting with commonsense at this time.

A number of arrests took place in Glasgow and the PSNI has warned that enforcement action will be taken following the scenes on the Shankill.

However, little happens in Northern Ireland without an element of whataboutery being introduced.

Loyalist community worker Jim Wilson defended his right to take part in the celebrations on the Shankill saying he was proud to be there and that he was in his household bubble.

Mr Wilson pointed out that last year large numbers of republicans, including deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, had turned out at the funeral of veteran IRA man Bobby Storey in an apparent breach of the anti-Covid regulations in place at that time.

This funeral was also brought up by former DUP health minister Jim Wells who referred to the Shankill event as unwise but launched into a tirade against the nationalist community for not criticising the Storey funeral breaches and tried wrongly to equate the two events.

Police interviewed 24 people, including the deputy First Minister after the funeral and a file has been sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Neither man is the first, nor will they be the last, to introduce a sectarian argument into apparent breaches of the law. But every case should be judged on its own merit, not what others did at some other time.

Belfast Telegraph

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