OFFENSIVE songs have long been a part of Irish history, but the advent of social media has shown just how prevalent many of them are still in the 21st century.
In the recent past, targets have included the Pope and members of the Catholic denomination, while pro-IRA chants have also been condemned.
Twitter and Facebook have been used to share and highlight a number of instances of blatantly bigoted content. However, the mass media can sometimes publish offensive songs and chants, even inadvertently.
Last year BBC Northern Ireland was criticized for broadcasting Chelsea supporters in Belfast singing ‘F*** the Pope’ during a rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline ahead of the Super Cup final at Windsor Park .
Following the outcry, the broadcaster said it would not replay the story, but after an investigation said it remained confident that “the words which have been attributed to Chelsea fans in this report are inaudible and that their use can only be inferred, rather than proven”.
In 2019, a video went viral showing a newly married couple at their wedding reception in Carrickfergus singing “F*** the Pope and the IRA” to the tune of Tina Turner’s Simply The Best. Police said no offenses were identified.
In the same year, a group of Northern Ireland football fans were filmed in a Belfast bar singing “We Hate Catholics, We Hate Roman Catholics” to the tune of Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now.
In 2015, a group of loyalist musicians successfully appealed convictions for playing The Famine Song, to the tune of The Beach Boys’ Sloop John B, outside St Patrick’s Church on Donegall Street in Belfast three years earlier.
Earlier this month, a video showing people singing a pro-IRA chant on a Co Tyrone Football Club team bus was reported to the Irish Football Association. The clip, filmed after safety Coalisland Athletic FC won the Irish Junior Cup final, resulted in a fine for the club.
In 2019, Féile an Phobail came under fire after pro-IRA chants were heard at a Wolfe Tones concert for the second year in a row. Footage emerged that appeared to show some members of the crowd involved in chants such as “Up the Ra” and “F*** your Union Jack”.
In 2020, Armagh camogie players were filmed singing a pro-IRA song in a dressing room. Video posted to social media appears to show part of the squad shouting “Ooh ah, up the Ra” after a Junio All-Ireland Championship win.