Wolfe Tones songwriter Brian Warfield has accused those who criticise his song Celtic Symphony of being “cranks and unionists or people who side with them” amid controversy over the Irish women’s football team singing along to it.
Warfield wrote the song, which includes the refrain ‘ooh, aah up the ‘Ra’, in 1987 for the centenary of Celtic Football Club, which occurred a year later.
He claims the line was taken from graffiti he saw on a wall in Glasgow around that time, which read ‘we’re magic, up the Celts, ooh, aah up the Ra’. He said he was not necessarily referring to the Provisional IRA in the lyrics.
Celtic Symphony was playing in the dressing room while the Irish team celebrated qualifying for the World Cup after winning at Hampden Park on Tuesday night. Players were filmed singing ‘ooh, aah up the Ra’ and a clip was posted on social media.
Ireland manager Vera Pauw said she was not in the dressing-room at the time, but that there were no excuses for the actions of the players.
“From the bottom of our heart, we are so sorry because there is no excuse for hurting people. It was unnecessary,” she said. “I have spoken already with several players about it and the one who posted it is devastated, she is crying in her room. She is so, so sorry. But there is no excuse for it.”
Warfield said the women involved were being “persecuted and bullied for a song they like”.
“What the hell is wrong with IRA? It is the Irish Republican Army. It is the people who put us here and gave us some hope when we had no hope.”
Warfield said critics of the song had no problem with God Save the King even though it now honours King Charles III, who was the honorary colonel of the Parachute Regiment which shot dead 13 civilians on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.
“There were terrible things that happened on both sides, but don’t give me the argument that it was one sided. Don’t tell that you can’t sing Celtic Symphony but you can sing God Save the King? Don’t give the argument that Land of Hope and Glory isn’t a rebel song. It is.
“In England they wear poppies and rise them up to sir this and sir that for killing for English expansionism but to kill to gain Ireland’s freedom is a terrible crime.”
Warfield said he had a family reason for being opposed to British militarism. He said three of his great-uncles died in the first World War – his grandfather’s brothers Henry and George Warfield and their sister’s husband John Misseu, who was Irish of Huguenot extraction. At the time of the first World War the Warfields were a Protestant family who later converted to Catholicism.