The theatre of decency

Family duties and work commitments prevented me from being at Celtic Park yesterday, but I wish I had been there.

Not just for the presentation of the SPFL trophy, but because I knew that Paradise would be the venue for lots of people doing the correct thing.

Before the match volunteers collected for the Celtic Foundation.

The club was founded as a vehicle for charitable work and even in this globalised world it is good to see this existing within what it is a highly successful commercial operation.

That said collecting for the homeless while not paying your staff the Living Wage still leaves a bad taste.

This issue hasn’t gone away you know so get it fixed Celtic.

On five minutes the crowd honoured the memory of wee Oscar Knox with the Celtic anthem, “You’ll never walk alone”.

Courage comes in all shapes and sizes and the five year old from Glengormley, Co Antrim had enough of it for a league winning football team.

I admit that I had not heard of neuroblastoma until Wee Oscar put me right on that.

His battle with this awful disease touched the hearts of thousands, mine included.

He won’t be forgotten.

I have no idea what the Knox family are going through, but they’re in my thoughts.

Remembering those that are gone is a central part of being human and yesterday the club got that spot on with the black armbands for Wee Oscar and also what was emblazoned on the chest of every one of Neil Lennon’s men yesterday.

The Celtic players wore special shirts to acknowledge the fact that it was National Famine Commemoration day here in Ireland yesterday.

An Gorta Mór created the modern Irish diaspora and Celtic football club is a product of that 19th century displacement.

Glasgow remains unique as a major reception centre for Famine refugees that does not have a city centre memorial to that catastrophe.

There is a working group now at Glasgow City council looking to rectify that and I wish them well.

I am disappointed that they did not engage more fully with Professor Tom Devine who had offered them the facility of his encyclopaedic knowledge of the historical period.

I have been in conversation with the Edinburgh University academic on these municipal manoeuvrings and I agree with him that any Famine Memorial must have historical literacy written into the design.

In fairness to the working group they have met with some opposition from certain …err…cultural organisations who seem opposed to any accurate recognition of An Gorta Mór and the role  the Famine played in the creation of modern Glasgow.

These chaps are, of course, from the same sub-culture that gave the world the Famine Song.

However, I am confident that the city of my birth will have a fitting memorial to An Gorta Mór.

When it is finally unveiled we should not see this as a defeat for the Genocide Choir at Ibrox, but a victory for human decency.

You cannot sketch the narrative of the city that gave birth to the first football club from Northern Europe to win the European Cup without mentioning that the Clydeside Irish community was central to both Glasgow and Celtic.

Yesterday at Paradise people remembered what was important to them within the occasion of a smashing football match between two teams of talented players.

Yesterday at Celtic Park the past and the present were woven into one, An Gorta Mór and Wee Oscar Knox.

Brother Walfrid, a Famine survivor from County Sligo who wanted no child to experience distress or hunger, would have approved.

Domestically Celtic now enjoys a sporting pre-eminence that can only be ended by Celtic themselves.

In Scotland the club that Brother Walfrid founded stands alone.

It also stands for something.

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