Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Northern Ireland fans in 'we hate Catholics' video will not face prosecution

Leah Finlay
Leah Finlay
Footage showed people in Northern Ireland shirts singing a sectarian song ahead of Sunday’s match

By Christopher Woodhouse

A trio of Northern Ireland fans featured in the infamous "we hate Catholics" video will not be prosecuted for stirring up hatred, Sunday Life can reveal.

Leah Finlay and two men, aged in their 30s, were questioned by police after footage was circulated of them singing along to the tune of Tiffany's 1987 pop classic I Think We're Alone Now.

It was recorded in a bar in south Belfast earlier this year and some of the crowd had changed the catchy lyrics to "we hate Catholics".

A file was sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) but after consideration by officials, no charges are to be brought against them.

A spokesperson told Sunday Life: "We have given detailed consideration to the evidence provided by police in respect of the three individuals reported and have concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any individual."

All three were investigated for potential acts of using threatening, abusive, or insulting words towards a group of persons defined by religious belief intending to or being likely to stir up hatred or arouse fear contrary to Article 9 of the Public Order (NI) Order 1987.

The decision was also influenced by independent expert analysis of the video, which could not prove that one of those filmed had sung any offensive words.

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In respect of the other two, the evidence did not reach the legal standard required to prove that they intended - or that it was likely - to stir up hatred or arouse fear through their actions.

A viral 20-second clip shows people in a packed south Belfast bar in March singing "we hate Catholics, everybody hates Roman Catholics".

In it, Leah Finlay can be seen dancing on a chair leading the hate-filled chanting with a smile on her face as fans around her enthusiastically join in. Other supporters can also be seen happily dancing as people belt out the bigoted alternative lyrics.

The supporters club of which Finlay is a member, Killen Rangers FC in Castlederg, described the content of the footage as "despicable" and that it had no place in sport, society or life.

After the footage emerged, the trio, from the Castlederg area, were given a ban by the Irish Football Association from attending any future Northern Ireland games.

The news comes less than a month after Tyrone senior football manager Mickey Harte apologised over a video that emerged of some team members singing a rebel song as their bus passed a band parade.

The PPS said that, in respect of one person, there was not enough evidence to prove they sung any offensive words.

In respect of the two others, there was not enough evidence to prove they intended to stir up hatred or arouse fear through their actions, or that this was a likely consquence.

A PPS spokesperson said: "We have given detailed consideration to the evidence provided by police in respect of the three individuals reported and have concluded that it is insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of obtaining a conviction against any individual."

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