Two arrested in Old Firm hate probe

Two men have been arrested in Scotland following police raids targeting the homes of people allegedly involved in Old Firm internet hate campaigns.

Two men have been arrested in Scotland following police raids targeting the homes of people allegedly involved in Old Firm internet hate campaigns.

A 23-year-old and a 27-year-old are in police custody. Both men have been charged with sectarian breach of the peace.

The arrests were made in Paisley and the east end of Glasgow.

The operation targeted individuals posting racial and religious hate comments about Old Firm stars such as Celtic manager Neil Lennon and Rangers striker El Hadji Diouf, police told the Daily Record newspaper today.

Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, of Strathclyde Police’s anti-violence directorate, said this behaviour would not be tolerated.

He added: “I would like to deliver a clear message to those who continue to make hate-filled comments and cause distress to decent members of the public, that we will pursue you relentlessly until this behaviour is stopped.

“Some people seem to think that they are anonymous online or can hide in a crowd, but technology can also be used to bring the police directly to you wherever you are.”

The two men who have been arrested are expected to appear in court on Tuesday.

An extra 1000 officers will be on the streets tomorrow as Celtic and Rangers meet for the seventh and last time this season.

Widespread concern over Old Firm violence was voiced following an ill-tempered clash between the two teams last month.

The high-profile disorder during the Scottish Cup game saw three Rangers players handed red cards and culminated in a confrontation between Rangers assistant manager Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon.

There was also disruption off the pitch with more than 30 supporters arrested at Celtic Park.

An Old Firm summit chaired by Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond was held in the wake of the game and an eight-point action plan was agreed.

Concerns about violence related to the game – and fuelled by hot weather and alcohol – were raised as detectives continue the hunt for whoever sent parcel bombs to Lennon, Paul McBride QC and former MSP Trish Godman.

Officers said the packages were “designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them”.

Lennon has endured sectarian threats against him throughout his career as a player and manager at Celtic.

Speaking ahead of the crunch game, he said: “I’ve had this for 10 years but I don’t want to say you get used to it, because you never do.

“It’s been with me during my time as a player, my time as a coach and my time as a manager. But it is not going to deter me from doing what I want to do.”

His Rangers counterpart Walter Smith said the parcel bomb threat was a new low in the history of the Old Firm rivalry.

On Thursday, Mr McBride, who represented Lennon at Hampden during his recent dispute with the Scottish Football Association, condemned whoever is behind the attacks.

He said: “They are despicable and cowardly individuals who are full of hatred and are out to hurt 2and kill.”

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox