Belfast Telegraph

Unionists blast Sinn Fein councillor over 'repulsive' Queen retweet

Cliftonville players bowed their heads as God Save the Queen was played at Windsor Park on Saturday
Cliftonville players bowed their heads as God Save the Queen was played at Windsor Park on Saturday
JJ Magee

By Gareth Cross

A Sinn Fein councillor in north Belfast has said he regrets causing any offence after he retweeted an insult to the Queen.

JJ Magee said he deleted it when the offensive content was pointed out to him.

The tweet followed controversy over how Cliftonville FC players bowed their heads before Saturday's Irish Cup Final game against Coleraine during the national anthem.

Cliftonville went on to lose the final 3-1.

In 2013, God Save the Queen was not played before Cliftonville's Irish Cup Final game with Belfast rivals Glentoran.

The club had asked the IFA not to play the anthem before Saturday's match - but the football authority rejected their request saying they would consider the situation going forward.

Oldpark councillor Mr Magee retweeted yesterday: "Cliftonville literally have a team of James McCleans. Unbelievable from every one of the players when God save the queen was played. FTQ".

FTQ is understood to mean F*** the Queen.

West Bromwich Albion and Republic of Ireland midfielder James McClean, who is from Derry, carried out a similar protest during a pre-season friendly in the US in 2015.

There was a mixed response to the actions of the Clinftonville players.

Unionist politicians, including DUP MPs Ian Paisley and Gregory Campbell condemned the players' decision to bow their heads. Sinn Fein north Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly defended the players, saying it was a "dignified protest".

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst said the tweet was "repulsive".

He added: "I'm repulsed by this retweet by JJ Magee which carries a slogan that is very offensive to many unionists and loyalists. JJ regularly talks about respect and equality. It is time he practiced what he preaches.

"It is also somehow ironic that JJ was one of those condemning Jolene Bunting, who I myself condemned for the graphic she put up, yet a few days later he is placing offensive posts on his own Twitter page."

Mr Magee said he had never intended to offend anyone.

He said: "I regret any offence caused by the retweet. It was never my intention to offend or disrespect anyone and I withdrew the tweet as soon as the offensive comment was pointed out to me."

Belfast Telegraph

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