Love-hate relationship with our fellow Celts

Scotland's relationship with Ireland is one that is close, but complex. Historically, the two countries were united by an antipathy towards to the English that saw them both fight against their dominant neighbours.

But the notion of an ancient Celtic brotherhood is complicated by the tribal factions that create violent division in both countries to this day. Nevertheless, it was this idea of common roots that can help explain the paradox that Scotland suffers from the same sectarian problems that have plagued Ireland, yet was spared the horrors of the IRA's mainland bombing campaign.

Attacks on the Celtic fringe were forbidden by the Provos, because the IRA wanted to portray their fight as a war against the English rather than an attack on their fellow Celts.

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This was despite the fact that many Scottish soldiers fought against the IRA as members of the British army that was sent into Ulster during the Troubles.

"It is a complicated relationship, there is a sort of creative tension between the two countries," said Michael Brown, acting director of the Irish/Scottish Research Institute at Aberdeen University.

Much of that complexity is down to religion. "The background to this goes back to the Reformation," Dr Brown said. "Ireland retained its Catholic confessional identity, because the population was predominantly Catholic. Scotland became Presbyterian and both sides had a sectarianism built into their thinking about the world."

It was Presbyterian planters from the south west of Scotland who colonised Ulster in the early 17th century and it was their influence who gave that Province its hardline Protestant leanings. About three centuries later, it was the movement of the Irish to the industrial centres of London, Liverpool and Glasgow that today accounts for much of the strength of Catholicism on the west coast of Scotland.

In the early 20th century the ship-building links between Glasgow and Belfast also saw the arrival of Protestant Ulster men in Govan to work at the Harland and Wolff shipyard on the Clyde.

In Ireland, this religious rivalry was intertwined with politics with the Catholics supporting the nationalist cause and Protestants wanting to retain British rule. Religious animosities found expression on the terraces of Ibrox and Parkhead. Examples of the Irish emigrants, who came to Scotland, were the parents of James Connolly, pictured above. Connolly was born in Edinburgh and was to become a revolutionary socialist, who was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, the bloody republican rebellion in Dublin that was to eventually lead to creation of the Irish Free State. After the uprising, Connolly was court-martialled and found guilty of treason. The British executed him, an act that turned him into a martyr for republicanism.The tricky relationship between the two countries is further illustrated by the fact that there were many Scots soldiers just returned from the Great War, who became Black and Tans, pictured left, the much-reviled auxiliaries sent to Ireland in the 1920s to crush the IRA. And up until one year before the Easter Rising, the Lord Lieutenancy of Ireland, the imperial position symbolising British rule, was held by another Scot - the Earl of Aberdeen.