22 October 2005

Old firm flap over banner

Belfast Telegraph

By Robert Watt
22 October 2005

BELFAST artist Danny Devenney is at the centre of a 'Bannergate' storm in Scotland.

The former IRA prisoner was recently commissioned by an officially backed Celtic fans group, the Jungle Bhoys, to produce a banner marking the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary Parkhead manager Jock Stein.

But Rangers fans claim their club has been the victim of a media witch-hunt over even the slightest of contentious issues.

Now they are angry that Celtic's links with a convicted republican have been allowed to go unreported.

"There are double standards at work here, perhaps even something more sinister," declared Mark Dingwall, editor of the Rangers fanzine, Follow Follow, and a board member of the Rangers Supporters Trust.

"It seems to be open season on Rangers but nobody dares to say anything which asks questions of Celtic. A few weeks ago a Sunday newspaper carried a story about the grass on the Ibrox pitch being cut and rolled in a pattern which resembled an Orange collarette. I'm afraid that one passed over my head, seeing as the pitch remained green.

"It was a non-story, yet it commanded a prominent page in the paper.

"There was even the suggestion that Celtic would be entitled to demand that the match they lost on August 28 be replayed."

More recently, he continued, a few Rangers fans sang Derry's Walls at the Inter Milan v Rangers game and, because the match was played behind closed doors, the singing was heard on TV.

"So many media men were in such a hurry to get up on their soap box and criticise Rangers for the singing of a 'sectarian' song.

"Yet for reasons best known to themselves, they remain silent about Celtic effectively hiring the services of this convicted IRA terrorist."

Celtic's stance is that Devenney was commissioned by the fans, not the club, but when asked if they would prefer the Jungle Bhoys to have found an alternative artist, they adopted a strict 'no comment' line.

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