Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

'We hate Catholics' song woman Finlay faces Northern Ireland match ban

IFA vows to identify other bigots in pub video nasty

Leah Finlay
Leah Finlay

By John Toner

This is the vile bigot due to be banned by the Irish Football Association (IFA) after footage of Northern Ireland fans singing "we hate Catholics" went viral on social media.

Sunday Life understands Leah Finlay from Castlederg, one of the fans identified from the video, will be issued with a ban in a joint effort between the IFA and the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters' Clubs (AONISC).

She was captured with friends on video as a group sang "we hate Catholics, everybody hates Roman Catholics" to the tune of Tiffany's 1987 pop classic I think We're Alone Now in a packed south Belfast bar last Sunday.

Wearing a replica Northern Ireland jersey, Leah (right) 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.

In the footage other supporters can also be seen happily dancing on a chair as people belt out the bigoted alternative lyrics to the hit.

Sunday Life made a number of efforts to contact some of the people who could be identified from the video.

No one answered the door at Finlay's home in Killen but a friend of the family approached our reporter and firstly told him to "clear off" and then shouted "f*** off".

On her Twitter profile Finlay's bio reads: "Live in killen .. Suport killen rangers thats all ya need ta no (sic)" and on her now deleted Facebook account, she claimed to have worked for the club.

Last week, Killen Rangers issued a statement slamming the behaviour of those associated with the club in the video and promised to take action if "deemed appropriate".

The fans group AONISC said they were working with the IFA to ascertain the identity of all the individuals shown to be involved in sectarian singing in the video.

The body also added the investigation is "currently ongoing" and stated their intention to take "firm and appropriate action against those involved".

AONISC chairman Gary McAllister confirmed the culprits would be prevented from getting tickets to future Northern Ireland matches and voiced his support for the introduction of football banning orders here.

He said: "While we believe that the IFA cannot ultimately be held responsible for the idiotic behaviour of a small number of people away from the stadium, we recognise the very significant harm this incident has caused to the image and reputation of the Irish FA, Northern Ireland fans and Northern Ireland football.

"With this in mind we're in agreement that, once properly identified, those involved should be prevented from receiving tickets for future Northern Ireland games.

"We believe it's important to send out the clearest possible message that this behaviour is unwelcome and unacceptable.

"In response to calls for the introduction of banning orders in Northern Ireland the AONISC had made a submission on this issue in response to a Northern Ireland Office consultation in 2009 and that the group would support their introduction but only under certain circumstances.

Northern Ireland fan Leah Finlay
Northern Ireland fan Leah Finlay

"Based on the experience shared with us by supporters' organisations in other parts of the UK, we believe that a two-tier approach to banning orders would be required, should they be introduced in Northern Ireland. Banning orders carry very severe consequences for those who are convicted and we feel that their use is appropriate for serious incidents involving violent behaviour.

"A secondary option to include civil banning orders or voluntary banning orders could be considered for other types of serious misconduct within stadiums.

"Where some form of punishment is deemed necessary, however, the introduction of any sanction has to be proportionate to the offence."

After the video was shared widely on Twitter last week, Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill said: "That's one or two mindless idiots to be honest and that's not a reflection of 99.9% of the support."

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