Belfast Telegraph

Police may probe ex-SF aide's sectarian tweet on Ryder Cup stars

By Claire McNeilly

An employee of a local charity is facing a police investigation after posting sectarian comments about Ulster's Ryder Cup heroes on a social networking site.

Mark McGregor, a management assistant at Action Hearing Loss Northern Ireland, called golfers Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell “House Taigs” on Twitter.

The former aide to ex-Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun added that the Northern Irish sporting duo were “as British as 300 years of oppression”.

Ulster Unionist Policing Board member Ross Hussey on Monday night said he had made a complaint to a senior PSNI officer following the online attack.

When the Belfast Telegraph tracked down Mr McGregor at his home in Crumlin, Co Antrim, on Monday, he said he had “no comment to make”.

Meanwhile, Action for Hearing Loss Northern Ireland issued a statement distancing itself from the remarks.

“In accordance with Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland’s employment policies and procedures, the charity is carrying out a full investigation of the comments attributed to management assistant, Mark McGregor, on Twitter,” it said.

“Mark’s comments on social media are expressed in a personal capacity and do not represent the views of Action on Hearing Loss Northern Ireland.”

His comments have since been removed from Twitter and his feed on the social networking forum has been set to private.

Mr McGregor’s remarks came after Rory, a Catholic, and Graeme, who was brought up as a Protestant but who has a Catholic mother, put the Ulster flag around their shoulders after Europe’s sensational Ryder comeback against the USA.

In one of sport’s greatest ever fightbacks, the Europeans overcame a six-point deficit at one stage to pip the highly-fancied Americans to the coveted trophy.

The subsequent celebrations involving the pair prompted the ex-Sinn Fein member to tweet: “There you go. Ulster flag appears. McDowell (MBE), McIlroy (MBE) are as British as 300 years of oppression.”

He added: “Pathetic fe***rs draped in their Ulster standards — McIlroy/McDowell. Dressed more Ulster Prod than a Shankill fishwife. Truly House Taigs.”

Ken Wilkinson, spokesman for the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) — who sits on the Antrim Police and Community and Safety Partnership — said he was angry at the online outburst.

“This is an absolute disgrace and I would call on the charity to either disassociate itself with him, or sack him,” Mr Wilkinson said.

East Belfast MLA Michael Copeland also condemned the rant.

“In my view, being associated with, what on the face of it looks like naked sectarianism, and working in a charity are not compatible,” the Ulster Unionist politician said.

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