Tom Minogue: Poppy-protest row needed calm analysis

Edinburgh-born James Connolly is honoured by many as a heroic freedom fighter and a founding father of the Irish Republic, but is largely ignored in his native land.

Connolly forsook his Irish surname and volunteered to serve in the British Army under the Scots surname Reid. He enlisted out of economic necessity, but later fought for the land of his forebears out of patriotism. Wounded in the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising, he was captured and carried on a stretcher to his place of execution where he was tied to a chair and shot by a firing squad of British soldiers.

His story encapsulates the complexities of Irish nationalism and how it is perceived in this country, and while many Scots can empathise with Connolly's aims, others see him as a traitor to Britain.

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Like Connolly, Celtic FC – uniquely in UK football – was born of Irish immigrants who fled the famine to seek work in Scotland, and Irish republicanism has always featured in its traditions. It was therefore no surprise that there was a poppy protest at Celtic Park last week, as many fans see the poppy on the team's jersey as provocative.

Add to this very complex situation the people from all backgrounds who feel poppy-wearing is becoming increasingly coercive, as well as tacitly endorsing the unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the potential for opposition to the poppy on the Celtic jersey increases.

Alternatively, many Celtic fans have no problem with the obligatory poppy on the club strip and feel equally strongly that it is appropriate.

No surprise then that this issue has split the Celtic support. But what is surprising is the fact that the board, led by Lord Reid of Cardowan – once a Communist, like Connolly – did not see this rift coming and head it off by seeking a compromise.

Lord Reid's board quickly reacted to the protest in fighting mode, by threatening a life ban for all those who took part.

But such sensitive issues – which divide not just Celtic, but our society – deserve respect for others' views, dispassionate analysis, measured judgment and then, and only then, comment.