Belfast Telegraph

Online abuse will not destroy Jay's love of Celtic, vow his parents

By Joanne Fleming

The parents of a young Celtic superfan who has Down's Syndrome have spoken out after vile comments appeared on a Rangers supporters forum mocking the teenager.

Martin and Aine Beatty from Co Armagh have thanked fans for their backing and vowed the online trolls won't destroy their son Jay's dream.

Several slurs were directed at Jay on the internet forum following Celtic's 2-1 Glasgow Derby victory at Ibrox on New Year's Eve.

Police in Scotland have confirmed they received a complaint and are investigating the posts.

Jay (13), from Lurgan, shot to fame when former Celtic star Georgios Samaras picked him out of the crowd during Celtic's title-winning lap of honour last season after then-team manager Neil Lennon gifted him his winners' medal. He has since met a host of stars such as singer-songwriter Paolo Nutini and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi.

Aine thanked fans for their support on Facebook, and many posted heartwarming messages in response.

She wrote: "He is just a little boy who really loves his football team. To the minority that mock him, you don't know him. If you did know him you would never dream of mocking him.

"Thank you for all the messages and comments of support. We really appreciate it and together we won't let the behaviour of others destroy a little boy's dream."

Jay's dad, Martin, added: "Thank you to everyone for all your kind words, we really appreciate it."

Bosses at Down's Syndrome Scotland also criticised the trolls behind the abuse.

Deputy chief executive Sarah Van Putten said: "We are appalled that this form of abuse is still happening and that people think it is acceptable to post such comments.

"Jay's achievements should not be belittled by outdated and despicable comments."

Both Celtic and Rangers fans have condemned the comments made about the popular teen and a statement on Rangers Media apologised for the slurs on Friday night.

It stated: "We are disappointed that three of our members posted offensive material relating to Jay Beatty. We extend our apologies to him and his family."

Last year the Lurgan teenager was also subjected to online abuse, with one Twitter troll responsible banned from attending football matches for a year and ordered to serve 200 hours community service.

Ross Gibson (20), from Aberdeen, admitted acting in a threatening and abusive manner in the online messages.

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