Cork City confirms TD did not breach rules after anti-Delaney banner seized
Former club chairman Jonathan O’Brien was briefly removed from stadium
Cork City FC has apologised to supporters after its former chairman was removed from the ground when an anti-John Delaney banner was unfurled at its match at Turner’s Cross on Friday night.
The club said it was “aware of discussion” around the incident, which prompted widespread comment on social media.
During the incident Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien was removed from the ground.
“The club intends to review reports and speak to all parties concerned,” the club said in a statement on Saturday. “The board is committed to making visits to Turner’s Cross an enjoyable one for all supporters.”
“We apologise for any upset these actions caused for our supporters/staff and will review all of the club’s internal security procedures with our event controller and gardaí.”
In a further statement on Saturday evening, Cork City FC said it had reviewed CCTV footage of the incident and spoken with all parties involved. The club confirmed Mr O’Brien was “for a short time” removed from the stadium. The club said staff met the TD on Saturday and after a frank and positive discussion wished to confirm he had not breached stadium regulations. “Both parties are happy that the matter is now concluded to their mutual satisfaction.”
Video circulating on social media of the incident shows a garda struggling with fans in the stand, with stewards also present alongside gardaí.
Mr O’Brien told the Irish Sun: “There was one fan removed and unfortunately that was me. I didn’t even have the banner.
“They told me I was removed on the grounds that I was impeding the gardaí from trying to remove the banner. That is the reason I was given.
“This is a really bad look for the FAI if people are seen not to be allowed conduct peaceful protests. What do they expect?
“At the most recent international match against Georgia, tennis balls were thrown on the pitch and that was condemned by the FAI.
“You hold up a peaceful banner saying ‘Delaney Out’ and that is not allowed either.
“I am disappointed in the reaction of the gardaí but I won’t be making too much of it, I will be back in Turner’s Cross next week.”
In a statement, the Garda Press Office said: “Following a minor incident a flag was seized by staff at Turner’s Cross football stadium last evening, Friday April 12th, 2019. Gardaí on duty at the stadium assisted security staff in escorting a man out of the grounds. Following discussions with the man he was readmitted to the ground. No arrests were made and the situation was resolved. No injuries were reported.”
A group of supporters had urged Cork City fans to boycott the Joe Delaney “Shed End” stand on Friday night in protest against the FAI. The stand was renamed after the former chief executive’s father in 2012.
There is a history of anti-Delaney materials being removed from fans, including at a friendly match between the senior men’s team and the United States in 2014.
In 2016, an Irish fan claimed that he was stopped and questioned by an FAI official ahead of a World Cup qualifier against Serbia to prevent him from bringing an anti-John Delaney flag into a game in Belgrade.
Efforts to contact Mr O’Brien were unsuccessful.