MEPs meet amid Old Firm furore

Alyn
Smith SNP MEP for Scotland has agreed that his Irish counterpart, Fianna
Fail MEP Eoin Ryan, will come to Scotland at Mr Smith's invitation to
see first hand efforts underway to combat sectarianism in football. Mr
Smith, himself a Glaswegian raised in Larkhall, intervened after Mr
Ryan raised on the floor of the European Parliament in Strasbourg the
conduct of Rangers fans during the club's most recent game.

Mr
Smith has arranged meetings in principle with anti sectarian
organisations, the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the
Old Firm football clubs.

Smith said:

"Eoin's criticism
last night of sectarianism in the Old Firm was well aimed, and hit
home, and it seems right that given we work together in Europe on so
many issues we should work together on this also. A lot of good work
has been done in Scotland to combat sectarianism, on all sides, and I
am not going to stand by and watch a limited few mindless thugs damage
our special relationship with the Irish.

"I know Eoin agrees
that sectarianism on all sides is equally offensive, and I hope he will
see Scotland to meet with all sides and reassure himself and his
constituents that the government of Scotland, and all points of the
political spectrum, are committed to ridding us of this tiddly toy town
poison in our national game. It was Rabbie Burns who said that we
should "see ourselves as others see us" and I hope those responsible on
both sides of the Old Firm will think on.

"Organisations like
Nil By Mouth have been doing some fantastic work in building bridges,
and I hope that by introducing them to Eoin we can put right some of
the damage that has been done to Scotland's reputation in the eyes of
some of our closest friends."