Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Willie Frazer's fury over 'GAA shirt' in EastEnders dismissed as absurd and inappropriate

Actress Maddy Hill, as Nancy Carter in EastEnders, wearing the St Patrick's Ballymena top

CLAIMS that a Ballymena school's PE top glorified IRA terrorism after it was worn by a character in EastEnders have been dismissed as absurd by a town councillor.

SDLP councillor and former teacher Declan O'Loan also revealed that the appearance of actress Maddy Hill in a St Patrick's College PE top had led to great amusement in the Co Antrim town.

Past pupils of the Catholic maintained college include Hollywood star Liam Neeson and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers.

The actress, who plays Nancy Carter in the BBC soap, wore the shirt on Friday night's episode.

Outspoken loyalist Willie Frazer believed it was a GAA shirt, an organisation he accused of glorifying terrorism. He compared the use of the shirt on the show to promoting the National Front, Ku Klux Klan or Nazism, and later refused to apologise.

However, on his Facebook page, Mr Frazer (below) suggested that he wasn't the only one confused about whether it was a GAA shirt or school sports kit.

He wrote: When is a GAA top not a GAA top? Well apparently when the association with terrorism just gets too embarrassing.

"Strange that up until I raised this issue earlier all the GAA sites were overjoyed at a GAA top being on EastEnders. Now all of a sudden it's not a GAA top. Ah well, I guess me and all those GAA sites don't get it right all the time."

Mr O'Loan, who taught mathematics at a neighbouring Ballymena school, said people in the Co Antrim town hadn't taken Mr Frazer's comments very seriously.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was at a GAA dinner on Saturday night and there was great joy and amusement that the top had appeared in EastEnders.

"The chair of the evening referred to it in his speech and while it was a club event a lot of the young people there were associated with the school.

"I think rather than take offence people would just dismiss those remarks as being inappropriate and without foundation."

He added: "I think it's important not to take Willie Frazer too seriously."

"What he has said is totally absurd and deserves to be dismissed out of hand."

Last night, a spokeswoman for the BBC was unable to tell the Belfast Telegraph how many complaints there had been about the use of the top.

And a spokeswoman for the Department of Education declined to comment on the remarks made.

Mr Frazer (53) from Markethill in Co Armagh said he had lodged an official complaint with the BBC.

A spokeswoman for EastEnders said the top was purchased from a vintage shop and that the character wears a huge range of sportswear.

She added that the actress chooses clothes for the way they look and not because she had any "allegiance to any sport or club".

QUOTES

"I'm sure many of you watched EastEnders in horror last night when Nancy Carter, who works behind the bar in the Queen Victoria, was clad in the shirt of an organisation which glorified IRA terrorists, the GAA. This surely must have been a mistake by the costume people, any shirt supporting the NF, KKK or indeed Nazism would never be allowed on a family show so why a shirt belonging to an organisation who name clubs after IRA terrorists, give out medals with IRA terrorists on them and who hold IRA events (on) their premises."

Willie Frazer

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