Belfast Telegraph

Holding pen plan is dismissed by Northern Ireland supporters’ group

Claims that football fans from Northern Ireland will be kept in a holding pen at the team’s next match in Dublin have been dismissed by a supporters’ group.

The plans were put forward after sectarian tensions blighted a game against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium earlier this month.

Angry locals accused northern supporters of drunken and offensive behaviour, leading to calls for increased security during the team’s next game in the city.

News of a holding pen came after police met residents and stadium bosses to discuss how to keep fans under control.

But a supporters’ group has hit out at claims that Northern Ireland fans will be kept separate from home supporters in May.

Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs (AONISC) said the plans for a holding centre were “speculation”.

“The relevant discussions regarding forward planning for these games have not yet taken place,” he said.

“We believe that decisions regarding security arrangements will be taken by the relevant bodies following discussion with the football authorities and fans, and would consider the recently reported speculation to be unhelpful and counter-productive.”

Officials have blamed security issues for the scenes, which saw drunken fans urinating in the street and shouting sectarian abuse at local residents.

A spokesman for the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said a holding pen was one option.

“We are looking at a number of options in consultation with the Garda, the PSNI and the IFA,” he said.

“These are either to have the fans from Northern Ireland arrive very close to kick-off, or to bring them to somewhere where they can relax, have some food and go directly to the match before kick-off.”

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Belfast Telegraph


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