Belfast Telegraph

Whistle blown on football fans who booed anthem and waved Para flag

By Staff Reporter

A senior member of the Irish Government has condemned fans who booed God Save The Queen before Northern Ireland's football match against the Republic.

Tanaoste Simon Coveney said he was "embarrassed" by the actions of "a small number of idiots".

The Irish national anthem was also booed by Northern Ireland fans.

Thursday night's game at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin finished in a 0-0 draw, but was overshadowed by boos and aggressive chants from some.

Jeers erupted when God Save The Queen was played as DUP leader Arlene Foster and Mr Coveney looked on.

Mr Coveney tweeted: "Embarrassed that a small number of idiots booed the National Anthem of @NorthernIreland tonight at Aviva. Competitive friendly, but Northern Ireland were our guests tonight in Dublin!"

And Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said their actions were "embarrassing and idiotic".

"I think it is highly regrettable. It was a minority, albeit a loud minority. But they were quite frankly idiots and it shouldn't have happened," he said.

A group of Republic fans were also heard chanting offensive songs in a bar before the game, including "You can shove your f****** poppy up your a***", "You're not Brazil, you're not a country, so go f*** your Union Jack" and "James McClean, he hates your f****** Queen".

Gardai said there were a small number of skirmishes at the event, but no arrests were made.

Northern Ireland does not have an official national anthem, but plays God Save The Queen at football matches.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: "I think it's pretty simple - we should all show respect to a nation's national anthem.

"I stand and I would show my respect to the Irish national anthem as I do for any other country and I would expect people to do exactly the same for the UK's national anthem.

"I think those in the stadium are not indicative of the Irish people, I think it's just people in that stadium and maybe it's just football in general, I don't know.

"But each national anthem needs to be shown respect on sporting occasions like this and ordinarily it normally would. But I think this was not right, to be honest."

Meanwhile, there has been condemnation after images emerged showing a Northern Ireland fan on his way to the match waving a Parachute Regiment flag.

He was pictured with the purple flag of the regiment that killed 14 civilians on Bloody Sunday in 1972 and is being investigated over the Ballymurphy Massacre in 1971, when 10 people were shot dead. The image was branded "an absolute disgrace".

Some said it was a deliberate attempt to antagonise Republic supporters.

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph