Council is hosting a citizens’ reception for the Coalisland football team, which have been fined after a video of pro-IRA chanting surfaced

Mid Ulster Borough Council will hold a citizens’ reception for a Coalisland football team who have been fined after some people were filmed singing pro-IRA songs on a team bus.

The footage, which was reviewed by the Football Association of Ireland and resulted in Coalisland Athletic FC being fined £250, came after the club’s 4-1 win over Bangor Young Men in the Junior Cup final at Windsor Park on May 2.

At the monthly council meeting on Thursday May 26, DUP council member Clement Cuthbertson praised the club’s “good sporting performances” but said he was not aware of any apology from the club for the actions captured in the video.

He urged the council to postpone holding a citizens’ reception for the club until an apology is forthcoming.

“Unfortunately, success on the field was overshadowed in the team bus,” said Mr. Cuthbertson.

“This has been widely reported in the media. People chanted pro-IRA slogans and glorified terrorism.

“The Football Association of Ireland investigated this and fined the club £250. I am not aware of any apologies from the club although I must be corrected.

“In light of this, I would suggest that every reception in the city be suspended until an apology is widely circulated for people in the district to see.”

“I think it would be unwise to proceed with a citizens’ reception with this dark cloud hanging over the whole thing.

“I think it would be good to get an apology first before the citizens’ reception.”

Council Chair Paul McLean (DUP) said the motion had been considered against Council policy and was apt to proceed on that basis, but said he would listen to the Chamber’s will to determine the best way forward to determine.

UUP group leader Walter Cuddy said Mr Cuthbertson made a good point, claiming the fact the club didn’t offer an apology was “wrong”.

“It’s weird for us to pretend it didn’t happen or say we’ll just forget about it,” said Mr. Cuddy.

“I know if it was a flute band or anything else they would essentially be blacklisted within this organization and there has to be fair rules everywhere.

“Nobody can justify what was done on that bus, there is evidence, particularly that the IFA came out and handed the fine and I think the club management needs to acknowledge that before the citizens’ reception takes place.

“Something has to come back from the club before we can move on to the next stage.

“These awards are for everyone in Mid Ulster and that achievement has been undermined by what they have done so we have to look at that very carefully.”

Sinn Fein group chairman Cathal Mallaghan told the chamber the council had no policy dictating how people behave on a bus to and from a game.

“It’s about the performance of the individual or the team. We are not the arbiters of sport, we are certainly not here to determine who should apologize,” he said.

“We are here to recognize achievements. That is the job of the Parish Council, it is very unfortunate that this has been brought up tonight when it has already been dealt with by the governing body, but that is just my opinion Chairman.”

Independent councilor Dan Kerr said he was in agreement with Mr Mallaghan and suggested the citizens’ reception go ahead as usual.

SDLP squad leader Malachy Quinn said the club had already been penalized for the “actions of a few” and described Mr Cuthbertson’s proposal as “a bit of a political score”.

UUP Council member Mark Glasgow said Mr Cuthbertson’s proposal was “very modest” and told the chamber he would support it.

The chairman of the council, Mr McLean, then asked the Chamber if they would accept deferring the application for citizenship until he had spoken to the club, but with no agreement on that idea, Mr Cuthbertson’s proposal went to a vote.

It was defeated and so the Citizens Reception for Coalisland Athletic will continue as planned.

Coalisland Athletic have been contacted for a reply.

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