England Scotland
England fans during the match with Scotland Getty

A couple of years ago the comedian Stewart Lee dedicated one of his magnificent monologues to the IRA. He said that the era of Islamic jihad makes us pine for "the good old days" of Irish republican terror. He described them as a bunch of "decent, British terrorists" and told his audience that British society would miss them, now they're gone.

Lee was, of course, being facetious, as is his wont. His point was that the terrorist agenda has now moved on. The IRA is a relic of a different age, an age before the globalisation of terror, when the Troubles still hung over British society, ready to strike at its very heart.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which introduced a power-sharing structure in Northern Ireland, effectively robbed the IRA of the grievance which powered it. The organisation hasn't carried out a terrorist attack for 13 years; in 2005 all IRA units were told to put down their weapons by the movement's leaders. Today the people who once led the IRA hold senior positions in the Northern Irish government, attempting to pursue their aims with the pen rather than the pipe-bomb.

You'd have to have been living in a cave for the last 10 years to believe that the IRA was still a viable force in British life. But then again, looking at some of the people who follow the England football team, that certainly isn't beyond the realms of possibility.

England fans, in their pathetic attempts to stir up hatred during last night's match with Scotland, gave a rendition of their time-honoured favourite "no surrender to the IRA." But no-one is actually talking about surrendering to the IRA; it's pretty hard to surrender to an army which has already disbanded.

Those fans who joined in the anti-IRA song probably thought they looked fearsome and defiant. In fact they looked pathetic and pointless, a bunch of beer-bellied dinosaurs clinging to the past. Middle Englanders say they bring shame on the country, but in fact they only bring ridicule.

The anti-IRA brigade probably do pine for the "good old days" of the Troubles. A time when you could still watch top-division football for a fiver and have a proper tear-up after the match. A time when Britain was happily detached from the rest of Europe and we didn't have to worry about bloodthirsty zealots plotting attacks on our country from thousands of miles away.

But sorry, chaps, the world's moved on. The causes you attach yourselves too, in a bid to justify your cowardly xenophobia, are no longer relevant. Maybe it's time to start dreaming up some witty ditties about Isis but then again, they don't have a football team.