MacAskill branded hypocrite as he backs Connolly statue

Kenny MacAskill

Scotland’s former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has been branded a hypocrite after suggesting a statue of early 20th Century republican and socialist leader James Connolly could be erected in Edinburgh.

Mr MacAskill was behind the implementation of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 during his tenure as justice secretary, the anti-sectarianism provisions of which make it illegal to chant or sing about Mr Connolly at Scottish football stadiums during matches.

According to the Edinburgh Evening News, Mr MacAskill said “more should be done to record where was born and initially grew up”.

He added: “A statue should be considered. There has obviously been some reluctance but next year is the centenary of the Easter Rising.

“Connolly is a man of huge significance – born in the Capital – who believed in making the world better.”

James Connolly is today remembered as one of the leading figures in the 1916 Easter Rising, which ended with his execution by British soldiers. He was also one of the founders of Ireland’s Labour Party.

Paul Kavanagh, a lawyer who has represented fans charged under theAct, told the Edinburgh Evening News: “It really beggars belief that the man who introduced laws that would have someone arrested for singing about James Connolly wants to see a statue built in his honour.

“The mere mention of the Easter Rising at a game is enough to see you arrested. It’ll be interesting to see if MacAskill will happily sing songs about the statue that could get him in trouble with the law.”

Jim Slaven of the James Connolly Society (JCS) added: “There is clearly a contradiction that you are not allowed to sing a song about Connolly but people want to claim credit for his political legacy.”

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