MSPs vote in favour of repealing controversial Football Act

The Green Brigade has attacked Mr Dornan at Parkhead
The Green Brigade has attacked Mr Dornan at Parkhead

An MSP has admitted that he sang sectarian songs at football as a teenager - but stopped because  "times change."

Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan spoke out as MSPs today voted 65-61 in favour of repealing of the Offensive behaviour at Football Act at Holyrood today.

Mr Dornan, a lifelong Celtic fan, has been the subject of protests at Parkhead by a group of fans known as the Green Brigade. His image has been emblazoned on a flag, along with Nicola Sturgeon and other political leaders, deemed responsible for the controversial laws which seek to end sectarian singing. They appear below the slogan: "Guilty of Criminalising Football Fans."

Read more: Celtic fans display banner opposing controversial Football Act

But Mr Dornan hit back today: "I'm not sure when or how one group of fans go to dictate to the rest the criteria for being Celtic fan.

"I've been one for 60 years, saw them in both their long barren spells as a young child before Stein came and through the Macari and Brady years.

"And yet apparently I no longer qualify for this unique club because I oppose their right to bring sectarian songs and songs about terrorism and the loss of innocent lives - including the lives of many Irish people into the stadia.

"I sang those songs - I sang them when I was a teenager during the 60s and early 70s. But times changes - the situation in Ireland changed and I got older."

Read more: Insight: If the act goes, who tackles offensive behaviour?
It was a time when you could not be openly gay, Mr Dornan said, but were allowed to smoke in buses and ride a motorbike without a helmet.

"What I'm saying is times change - but some football fans don't."

The vote of MSPs today is the first stage of the Parliamentary process to scrap the Offensive behaviour at Football Act amid claims it is ineffective and has criminalised a generation of football fans. The opposition parties at Holyrood united to vote down the SNP minority at Holyrood, but a final vote will be taken later in the year.