Following Neil Lennon’s announcement of his retirement from international football, Alliance Spokesperson on Sport, Cllr. Michael Long, has called for actions rather than words from all political parties on the issue of sectarianism in local sport.
Alliance has previously called upon the NI Assembly to introduce the Football Offences Act to Northern Ireland. This legislation which applies only in England allows the authorities to prosecute those engaging in racial or sectarian chanting.
Cllr. Long said,
“I totally understand Neil’s decision and having already overcome the previous taunting, I am not surprised that he has decided to quit. However, it is very disappointing that the bigots have driven out one of our players.”
“Today we have heard the usual platitudes from other politicians but the real question is why did they not support our call to introduce tough measures against sectarian bigots or introduce measures of their own?”
“The IFA has done a great job with its ‘Football for All’ campaign, but it is time that the Minister Mr. McGimpsey supported them by introducing legislation which would help solve the problem.”
“Alliance has called for the extension of the Football Offences Act from England which would allow authorities to prosecute those who indulge in sectarian or racial chanting. He promised action 18 months ago after the previous incident but has refused to support our proposals.”
“While no measures could have prevented last night’s dreadful incident, it is time a clear message was sent that sectarianism in sport is unacceptable. I would therefore call on the Minister to re-consider our proposals immediately.”