Controversial Irish rebel song written by former teacher from Cookstown

Celtic fans campaign
Celtic fans campaign

An Irish rebel song that made number 33 in the Top 40 UK Singles Chart, amid a whirlwind of controversy, was written by a former school music teacher from Mid Ulster.

Roll of Honour, which outlines the story of the 10 IRA hunger strikers who died in 1981, was penned by musician Gerry Glackin, and covered by The Irish Brigade as part of a campaign against a Scottish law.

Interested to see what Mr Glackin thought of his song being used in this way, the MAIL tried to contact him, but he, or his family did not want to comment.

Instead they pointed us towards a statement released by the Irish Brigade, which said: “It was an honour and privilege to be asked by Celtic Fans against Criminalisation to permit them to promote the song ‘The Roll of Honour’ to aid the funding of their campaign against the law that affects everyone with Irish roots or a love of Irish culture.

“Ballads have been an integral part of our culture and heritage from time in memorial and the role of the Bards and Street Singers holds a unique and honoured place in our history.

“Neither is the song a sectarian song. It is an historic, social commentary about one stage in a long freedom struggle that is still continuing but that now uses democratic paths and institutions that did not exist in the early 80s.”

The song, which calls England a “monster” and hails lead hunger striker Bobby Sands as “gallant” and “brave”, made it into the charts as a result of a campaign launched by Scottish group Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC).

A representative from the group defended their call to get Roll of Honour into the UK music charts, despite uproar from unionist politicians across Mid Ulster.

He said: “The campaign was basically organised to highlight the hypocrisy of the Scottish government’s legislation - one of the clauses of the offensive behaviour act is, any behaviour deemed offensive by any reasonable person could theoretically see you jailed for up to five years.

“This song has become the battle ground for the war, as this song wouldn’t have been illegal under previous legislation.

“Right now, as we speak there is Celtic fan being held on remand for singing this song.

“The issue isn’t whether someone might agree with the content of the song... the issue is should people be arrested for singing a song that expressed their political beliefs?

“This is an infringement on freedom of speech and it has to be treated as such. We are doing this to point out that people’s civil liberties are being infringed upon in Scotland.”