Belfast Telegraph

Cliftonville hits back at MLA over claim fans flew Hamas flag during Linfield match

By Claire Williamson

A row has erupted after Cliftonville fans were accused of waving a Hamas flag during a high-profile match against rivals Linfield.

DUP MLA Gordon Dunne called on the Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin to take action after he claimed the flag was displayed during last month's clash.

The club last night hit back at the claims, strongly denying the emblem was that of the Palestinian militants. Mr Dunne raised the issue in the Assembly yesterday.

Afterwards he said: "I was totally appalled at the display of a Hamas flag by a number of Cliftonville fans in attendance at Windsor Park during the recent game against Linfield." He said the flag had "no place within society, never mind during a sporting fixture", describing it as "outrageous".

In a statement Cliftonville FC accused the DUP of being "selective" and rejected that it was a Hamas flag.

It said the club carried out an investigation, and while it would prefer that all flags flown were in support of the team, it was advised that the "IFA does not have a flag policy and the flag referred to by Mr Dunne has not been proscribed, nor have the IFA prohibited it".

It continued: "Mr Dunne also claimed that the flag on display was the flag of Hamas. If he had taken the time to do even a little research then he would have learnt that it is not. This, however, does not surprise us given that in his exchange with the minister today, he made no mention of any of the flags on display on the other side of the ground at this fixture, a photograph of which was also widely circulated on social media.

"Our club must therefore wonder at the selective nature of his debate with the minister."

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