Belfast Telegraph

Glentoran player arrested over 'Class A drug dealing'

BY CHRIS KILPATRICK

One of Northern Ireland's most promising young footballers has been arrested on suspicion of dealing Class A drugs.

Glentoran winger John McGuigan (20) was arrested by police after being detained by door staff at a Belfast nightclub.

The 20-year-old – who has also represented Northern Ireland – is suspected of selling ecstasy tablets to revellers at Shine on University Street in the south of the city.

Police were called to the popular nightclub in the early hours of Sunday and arrested McGuigan for alleged possession of Class A drugs and possession of Class A drugs with intent to supply.

It is understood a quantity of white powder and a number of tablets were seized by police at the scene.

McGuigan was released on bail and a report sent to the Public Prosecution Service.

Glentoran chairman Terence Brannigan told the Belfast Telegraph the club had a "zero-tolerance" policy regarding drugs.

"John has not been charged with anything, however we are aware he was apprehended by police and we had a conversation with him," he said.

"We as a club have a very straightforward policy on drugs, and it's two-fold.

"If John should be found guilty of anything to do with drugs, that would be a very serious matter and one for which we would consider dismissing John from his contract.

"There is a second side to this as well; we would wish to be supportive of John and indeed his family.

"So, while taking the matter seriously, nonetheless we do have a duty of care."

Mr Brannigan said McGuigan had not been suspended by the club, and that the decision on whether he is selected for forthcoming matches lies with the team's manager.

McGuigan has played for the club in the Irish League, Europa League, and cross-border Setanta Cup.

He has also been selected by the Northern Ireland under-21 side.

A club insider told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's a big shock to hear anything like this involving players at your club.

"News started to come out about the allegations yesterday and when John was mentioned I was very surprised.

"He's a good lad, liked by everybody, and an excellent young player."

Referring to McGuigan and two other young players in the past, Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson was full of praise.

He said: "They got more game time, a bit more experience and while they will be in and out throughout the course of the next couple of months, they are an integral part of this set-up.

"They are of the future of Glentoran Football Club and the three of them didn't look out of place."

A police spokeswoman yesterday said: "A 20-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of a Class A controlled drug and possessing a class A controlled drug with intent to supply in the University Road area of south Belfast during the early hours of Sunday March 2.

"Police were called to premises in the University Road area shortly before 12.40am after staff reported they had detained a male in possession of suspected drugs.

"Police seized a number of tablets and a quantity of white powder from the man.

"He was interviewed and subsequently released pending a report to the Public Prosecution Service."

PROFILE

John McGuigan is one of the most promising talents in local football, featuring regularly for Glentoran. He has represented the club in European competition as well as the Setanta Cup and Irish League. His talents saw him called up to represent Northern Ireland at under-21 level, having played for the national team's junior sides. McGuigan was the hero in a memorable victory over England's under-18s, scoring in a 2-0 win.

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