Achill Akbar, by God we’re great!

In the aftermath of the Scottish Cup win for Celtic on Sunday something nasty stirred within the Sevco end of social media.

A rumour viralled across Dignified cyberspace that there had been an Irish tricolour at Hampden with the word ‘Islam’ on it.

Firstly, there are Irish people who are of the Islamic faith and that flag is their flag every bit as much as Anthony Stokes or myself.

Scouring the images of the cup final and desperately looking for something to offend, the Sevco chap thought he had struck gold.

The chap ‘reasoned’ that this was a cruel jibe by British-hating Celtic supporters in the aftermath of the brutal murder of Drummer Lee Rigby (RIP) in Woolwich.

Actually the flag didn’t have ‘Islam’ on it – it had ‘Achill Island CSC’ written on it.

These Holy Warriors had travelled from Mayo, not Marrakesh.

Moreover, I will wager that not many of them were able to adhere to the laws of Islam regarding the consumption of alcohol.

I will declare an interest that, after my father’s town of Westport, Achill Island is the most precious place on this planet to me.

I don’t know of any people on the place who adhere to the laws of Islam, but if there are any then they’re very welcome.

This must be a difficult one for the Famine Song choir to grasp, but Islam is not criminal.

Being of the Islamic faith is not a crime.

There are people in Ireland, sure even in the County Mayo, of the Islamic faith.

More than thirty years ago in Ballyhaunis a Halal meat factory was established; the town is the most diverse in the county and, yes, they have a Mosque and a very fine one too.

The people who arrived there to work at the processing plant were very different to the locals, but now they’re local.

There was no ‘Mayo Defence League’ set up to repel the outsiders and if those lads could produce a football team capable of lifting the Sam Maguire sure they wouldn’t be allowed to leave!

They didn’t arrive as invaders and they didn’t think that they were The People.

This is a very different belief system to the one that created the Famine Song.

By yesterday afternoon quite a few colleagues in the Irish media village had contacted me to snigger at the utter stupidity of anyone who would make such a racist faux pas.

It was a ‘welcome to my world’ moment for your humble correspondent.

However, it made me realise how utterly dysfunctional the klan are and, worryingly, I realised yesterday that, to some extent, I had normalised their insanity.

I spend so much time writing about this issue that it has lost the shock factor that the Famine Song had for me in 2008.

The dignified chaps of the Sevco internet believed the Islam tricolour story because they wanted to believe it.

They needed to find something to smear Celtic supporters with as Neil Francis Lennon held the Scottish Cup in triumph.

They desperately wanted to believe that Celtic supporters rejoiced in the awful murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

The two madmen who butchered him are no more representative of Islam than the klan is of Scotland.

Islam is one of the great religions of the world; ‘great’ as in the number of adherents.

It isn’t my faith, as I’m not a person of any religious faith.

I was reared in the Catholic tradition but it doesn’t inform or order the structure of my existence.

Celtic Football Club is open to all and that isn’t something that was recently introduced.

It has been in the DNA of the club since Brother Walfrid established it 125 years ago.

There is an unbroken history of inclusivity.

Similarly here in Ireland we are now more multicultural and more diverse than at any time in the history of human habitation on this island.

We’re the better for it.

People moving to your country is a huge vote of confidence.

Invasion and conquest is quite another matter and I fully accept that some British people, with their imperialist baggage, don’t quite get that.

In Ireland we have racists and xenophobes among us.

However, it is good that there isn’t any major sporting institution that has mobilised a customer base on the emotional contract around the authorisation of ethnic hatred.

Scotland is not so fortunate on that score.

The response of the Celtic Twitter clan was to deride the accusers with increasingly hilarious juxtapositions of Islam and Islands, Mayo and Mullahs.

I emailed a colleague in Dublin – a journalist originally from Pakistan – to see if he was keeping up with it all on Twitter. He is a cricket fanatic although I’m trying to lure him into the Gah.

He was astounded at this story.

In the end I really couldn’t explain it to him adequately.

This was the sort of PR own goal that only the seriously thick can attain.

Deploying weapons grade stupidity at a breathless rate, not for the first time, the klan was credulous and cretinous about people with Irish tricolours.

There are enough folk in Ireland of the Islamic faith for there to be a fair few Celtic fans among them.

If they do turn up to a match in Scotland with ‘Islam’ written on a tricolour then this citizen of the Irish Republic will have no problem with that.

I already know that the Celtic family, which has a fair few adherents of that great faith, will give them a proper welcome.

The klan clearly doesn’t get this and that is why all right thinking people are right to parody their pathetic hatreds and call them out at every opportunity.

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