Condemnation over Wolfe Tones chant

Condemnation over Wolfe Tones chant

THERE HAS been widespread condemnation of the Ireland women’s football side after a video showed them singing a chant from the Wolfe Tones’ Celtic Symphony. The video filmed in the team’s changing rooms — after they beat Scotland to secure a place in next year's World Cup — went viral.

On foot of this, another video posted on social media at the weekend, showed a group of unidentified people at Dublin Airport chanting, “Ooh ah, up the Ra.”

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker told the BBC he was "deeply concerned" and the video was "profoundly disrespectful to the victims of terrorism".

But Brian Warfield of The Wolfe Tones — and the composer of the song — said he is incensed by the controversy. “We Irish have always sung songs about our heroes. We are entitled to do that. And I think it was disgraceful that the FAI didn’t provide these ladies with a PR person who could have handled all the negative questions instead of throwing them to the wolves.”

He said, “It was disgusting that the FAI and women's team manager Vera Pauw apologised on television. I couldn’t believe it.”

Warfield told this newspaper that he believes rebel songs are “a precious heritage”. He told The Irish Post that nobody needs to apologise for singing an Irish song. “The Wolfe Tones have never pedalled the image of the ‘drunken Paddy’ or the ‘stupid Paddy’, like so many entertainers — Irish entertainers who made a living out of telling jokes in England that denigrated Ireland. The Irish don’t need to go down that route; there’s more to Ireland than whiskey in the jar. We have a great story to tell.”

Warfield told The Irish Post that he’d written the Celtic Symphony in 1987 in Glasgow, for the centenary of Celtic FC

Wandering about Glasgow, he said, he saw graffiti on the walls of the city in the Irish areas. “Up Celtic, up the Ra. . . And it made me realise that the diaspora had supported Ireland through rebellion, through the Great Famine, through the violence meted out to ordinary Irish people through oppression and starvation.”

Nonetheless, the complaints about the use of the song have continued to mount.

Stephen Farry of the Alliance Party tweeted: “More disgraceful behaviour. We are seeing a growing pattern of incidents in sectarian chants across different parts of society. Real dangers in this in this type of conduct becoming normalised or seen as acceptable.”

Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin North West Paul McAuliffe believes the singing of songs such as the Celtic Symphony are divisive: "We build the case for a united Ireland by creating a shared island. One doesn't necessarily lead to the other but it makes this place we call home a better place for all of us to live. Dropping a few lyrics isn't a great sacrifice to make others feel included and part of us," he added.

In a statement, Dublin airport operator DAA said its core responsibility was to "ensure the safety and security of passengers and to operate the airport in an efficient manner.

"The responsibility for passenger behaviour in this instance rests entirely with the passengers in question," it added.