‘Hanging people is something the Ku Klux Klan did… There’s a big problem. And you all laugh about it’: Neil Lennon slams ‘disgusting’ attitude towards anti-Irish racism following vile calls for him to be hanged after ugly derby tie
- Hibernian boss Neil Lennon has criticised attitudes towards anti-Irish racism
- It comes after Lennon, an Irish Catholic, was hit by a coin in the Edinburgh derby
- He was angered by claims, such as from Gary Caldwell, he brought it on himself
- Lennon has previously been attacked at Tynecastle and suffered other crimes
- He has called for a drastic change of attitude and said changes must be made
Neil Lennon insists Scotland has a major problem with anti-Irish racism as he rebuffed claims he incited the latest attack against him.
The Hibernian head coach backed his agent, Martin Reilly, who claimed Lennon was routinely targeted for abuse because he was an Irish Catholic who played for Celtic.
Lennon was among several participants who were assaulted during Wednesday’s Edinburgh derby and was angered by claims – including from former team-mate Gary Caldwell – that he had partly brought it on himself by signalling to Hearts fans to calm down following a disallowed goal.
Hibernian boss Neil Lennon insists Scotland has a major problem with anti-Irish racism
The vile calls for Lennon to hang himself in the colours of Hearts on a wall close to Tynecastle
It came after the Edinburgh derby in which Lennon was struck by a coin thrown from the crowd
Lennon remained on the floor while he was checked by a physio during the ugly scenes
The former Northern Ireland international has previously been attacked at Tynecastle and suffered a number of other crimes in Scotland, including being knocked unconscious in the street and being the recipient of a parcel bomb.
The message ‘hang Neil Lennon’ was daubed on a wall near Tynecastle on Wednesday and Lennon agreed with Reilly’s assessment on the cause of most of the abuse.
‘That’s the basis of it, has been since 2000,’ said Lennon at a pre-match media conference ahead of the visit of St Johnstone.
‘You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism. If a black man is abused, you are not just abusing the colour of his skin, you are abusing his culture, his heritage, his background.
‘It’s the exact same when I get called a Fenian, a pauper, a beggar, a tarrier. These people with the sense of entitlement or superiority complex. And all I do is stand up for myself.
‘I’ve been subjected to this for 18 years. I’m 47, I’m fed up of it. I’m the manager of Hibs now and I’m still getting it. Hanging people is something the Ku Klux Klan did in the 60s to black people, so maybe that’s the mentality of the people who write this stuff.
‘I’ve been subjected to this for 18 years. I’m 47, I’m fed up of it,’ said the Hibs manager
In an emotional press conference, Lennon called for attitudes on the matter to be changed
‘There’s a problem. It’s a big problem. And you all turn your back on it, you all laugh about it, and brush it aside. It’s right there. I keep hearing all this “One Scotland”, we are open to everyone. At times it hasn’t been the case to me.
‘I had a career in England unblemished by all this stuff. I had two years at Bolton – no abuse, no attacks, no suspensions. As soon as you come back to Scotland, it rears its ugly head.
‘It’s there right in front of you every week, you hear the songs in stadiums. That’s got to be stamped out but people don’t want to do it. They say “there’s 40,000 people in there, there’s 60,000 in that stadium, you can’t do anything about it”. You can, if you really want to.
‘And I’m not the only one to suffer from sectarian abuse. There are plenty of Rangers players who suffer it and I think it’s disgusting in this day and age. Sometimes it’s worse here than it is back home.’
‘You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism,’ the Hibs manager blasted
Lennon spoke to Partick Thistle officials after their manager Caldwell made comments but did not take a phone call from his former colleague.
He added: ‘It’s pretty poor all this – I was goading people, I bring it on myself. There’s an effigy (graffiti) outside Tynecastle saying ‘hang Neil Lennon’. That was before the game. Did I bring that on myself?
‘Did the linesman bring it on himself? Did Bobby Zlamal bring it on himself? Did Marvin Bartley bring it on himself? Why do I bring it on myself then when people attack me or throw things at me? This is the mentality that needs to change. It’s embarrassing. It makes me very angry.
‘Everybody gets it at times but in my case – and I’m not crying over spilled milk because I put up with it, I get on with it and I’ve been successful through it – I get it a lot worse than most people do.
‘So maybe Gary Caldwell and people like that can walk in my shoes for a day or two and see what it’s like.’
Lennon was especially irked by some suggestions he brought the attacks upon himself
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