Former Labour councillor attacks Strathclyde police over Celtic complaint

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By a Newsnet reporter

The former convenor of Glasgow council, Michael Kelly, has launched an astonishing attack on Strathclyde police over the recent Celtic chanting complaint.

Mr Kelly claimed that the police force had gone “behind Celtic’s back” when they notified European football bodies of alleged pro-IRA chants at a recent football match.

Speaking on STV’s Scotland Tonight Mr Kelly insisted that the chants were examples of “political expression” which he claimed was not a criminal offence and said: “I defend their right to sing them”.

The former Labour councillor also attacked the Scottish government’s plan to bring in legislation to tackle sectarianism in football describing it as an attack on free speech.  He claimed that police chiefs had spoken to Labour MSPs and assured them that their original complaint, which led to last season’s summit, was only about domestic violence following Old Firm ties.

He also argued that fans on both sides of the football divide should be allowed to sing their songs saying: “people have the right to be offensive if they want to be”.

He argued that the best way to deal with such fans would be to ask them to leave the ground.

Mr Kelly insisted that last season’s troubles around football that witnessed Celtic manager Neil Lennon attacked at a game and parcel bombs being sent to his, and other prominent fans, addresses was only a “minor series of incidents”.

Mr Kelly also compared the IRA chanting to songs like Flower of Scotland and Killicrankie and claimed that they were just as offensive to many people.