Neil Lennon: ‘You call it sectarianism here in Scotland, I call it racism’

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 in on himself by signalling to Hearts fans to calm down following a disallowed goal.

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.

“That’s the basis of it, has been since 2000,” said Lennon. “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. 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.

“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. I had a career in England unblemished by all this stuff.”