Belfast Telegraph

Irish FA consider charge against Jay Donnelly after Cliftonville striker jailed

Footballer Jay Donnelly arriving at Laganside Court in Belfast. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Footballer Jay Donnelly arriving at Laganside Court in Belfast. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The Irish FA has confirmed that it will consider a charge against Cliftonville player Jay Donnelly, who has been jailed for sharing an indecent image of a child.

The Cliftonville FC striker was appealing the jail sentence handed down after he admitted sharing the indecent image with a friend and up to ten other players on a WhatsApp social media group.

But despite reducing the original term imposed by a month, Judge David McFarland insisted that a deterrent punishment behind bars was required.

As the future of Donnelly's playing career remains uncertain, the Irish FA has said that safeguarding children is the association's highest priority.

In a statement, the IFA said: "Following his sentencing, the Irish FA will now consider a charge against Jay Donnelly of bringing the game into disrepute.

"The safeguarding of children remains the highest priority of the association and our sympathy is with the victim and her family in this case."

Donnelly has not played for Cliftonville since November, when he was convicted. The club immediately dropped Donnelly from the playing squad and said in a statement that the outcome of the appeal would be "given due consideration".

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"The club are mindful of their duties and responsibilities and will continue to act on this basis," said the club in November.

In a statement released through his solicitor John Finucane following the ruling, Donnelly, of Ardilea Drive in north Belfast, said that he hoped to move on from the conviction and stressed his remorse.

He said: "I want to again apologise to the complainant in this case for the the hurt that my action caused.

Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly
Cliftonville's Jay Donnelly

"This will never erase what happened, but I hope that today's outcome provides her with a degree of closure that allows her to move on with her life.

"I also want to thank my girlfriend, my family and my friends for the support they have shown me throughout this case.

"This is something I wish to move on from following my sentence, and I ask that my family are allowed to move on also, and are given privacy to do so."

An NSPCC Northern Ireland spokeswoman said: "Sharing indecent images of a child is a serious offence, reflected in the custodial sentence imposed on Donnelly by the court.

"The children in images distributed in this way are victims of crime and the NSPCC is campaigning for more to be done to prevent adults from sharing such material on social media and for providers to do more to remove it from their platforms."

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