Roll of Honour (song)

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Roll of Honour is an Irish Republican song, written by Gerry O'Glacain, that commemorates the 10 IRA and INLA hunger strikers who died during the 1981 Irish hunger strike in Northern Ireland. The names each of the men are contained in the lyrics of the song in the order that they died: Bobby Sands, (Francis) Hughes, Ray McCreesh, (Patsy) O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine. The song describes the 10 as "Ireland’s bravest men" who were "Hungering for justice" and "For their rights as Irish soldiers and to free their native land". The song ends with the call to "Fight on and make our homeland a nation once again".

Controversy[edit]

In 2006, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell suggested that he was embarrassed by "offensive" chants in support of the Provisional IRA, even though these songs were political and not "overtly sectarian".[1]

Since the enactment of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, singing Roll of Honour at Scottish football matches by some supporters of Celtic F.C. has led to arrests and convictions for singing "a song in support of a proscribed terrorist organisation".[2][3] However some prosecutions have resulted in acquittals with one sheriff stating "If they can proscribe a list of songs which people are banned from singing, they will find the courts are full and the football grounds are empty."[4]

The Green Brigade group of Celtic fans believe that the 2012 Act is "a ridiculous piece of legislation" which has resulted in "expressions of Irish identity, culture and politics being deemed illegal" and highlighted the hypocrisy of the legislation at the Celtic game on 23 November 2013: while ‘Roll of Honour’ was being sung, banners were displayed containing the lyric from the Scottish national anthem: ‘they fought and died for; their wee bit hill and glen’.[5]

In December 2013, seven members of the Green Brigade appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of having behaved in a way that "is likely or would be likely to incite public disorder" by singing the Roll of Honour at Celtic Park, with trial set for June 2014.[6]

See also[edit]

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