Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds protest at home of Ulster Rugby over handling of Jackson and Olding

By David Young

More than 200 protesters gathered outside the Kingpsan Stadium in Belfast to protest the silence of the Ulster Rugby officials on the issue of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding returning to play for the side.

Some drivers sounded their horns in support of the women as thousands of rugby fans poured into the east Belfast stadium for a match against Welsh side Ospreys.

Both Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were acquitted in a high-profile rape case in Belfast. During the case, it was revealed messages had been exchanged between the players which gave rise to concerns about their attitudes to women. Later the players apologised for their conduct.

Following the verdict, Ulster Rugby and the IRFU began internal proceedings on how to handle the matter.

A band played at the protest while many held placards calling on Ulster to act on the players. At one stage one woman approached the protest wearing a t-shirt bearing an "I believe Paddy Jackson" slogan before she had her picture.

Speaking at the protest, organised by Belfast Feminist Network, Green party MLA Clare Bailey said that Ulster Rugby's silence on the issue was "deafening".

"The women of Ireland have had their #metoo moment. We want to stamp out misogyny in sport," she said.

" I can't see why it's taken them so long to make a decision.

"These messages have been in the public domain for an awful long time - and still we're waiting. Still we've heard nothing. Their silence is deafening. We want them to speak up- and stand up - for the women of Ulster."

Attendance for the game against Welsh side Ospreys was estimated to be over 14,000 at the 18,000 seater stadium.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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