A good friend of mine, who is a long time buddy of Pat Fenlon, said he had high hopes for him when he took up the Hibernian job.
I said to my big pal from Tallaght that I hoped he would do well, but he would have to cope with the racist abuse that would be inevitably hurled at him.
“From that Rangers lot?” he asked.
“Not just them. I saw young James McCarthy pilloried at New Douglas Park by the visiting St Mirren fans in 2008 and McGeady got it at many grounds in Scotland.”
Today in the Scotsman we have a report that Fenlon was subject to abuse based on his nationality.
“The Irishman was repeatedly subjected to aggressive abuse – much of it centring on his nationality – from individuals within the home support during the Easter Road side’s 3-2 victory over the Second Division leaders. However, despite the offenders being clearly identifiable in the stand, no action was taken by police or stewards.”
Personal attacks on the basis of a person’s nationality are considered by UEFA to be racist abuse.
The man himself passed it off as “banter.”
The reality is that Pat Fenlon was subject to racist abuse from Cowdenbeath supporters and there was no police intervention.
The extent to which Anti-Irish Racism isn’t on the political radar in Scotland frames the response of the public agencies and, indeed, the victims to it.
Until Anti-Irish Racism is publically challenged, the way black players in England have a zero tolerance of racism then it will continue.
The sporting bodies and public agencies have not even begun to create the atmosphere within which an Irish person, subjected to racist abuse, would feel empowered to complain.
If Hibernian’s new manager was black, English or Spanish would it the response from the police on the day have been different?
If I took this story of Anti-Irish racism to anyone in the Scottish government for a response they would whirr into action like a Stepford Wife parroting out guff about “sectarianism.”
If official Scotland can’t even recognise their country’s largest and oldest ethnic minority then it should come as no surprise that they wouldn’t respond appropriately to an Irishman suffering racist abuse at his place of employment in the presence of scores of police officers.