Ex-GAA player apologises after shouting ‘vile’ pro-IRA slogans at loyalist band

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A unionist councillor has slammed a former GAA player who launched a tirade of “vile sectarian abuse” at a loyalist band parade in Co Down.

Ex-Down GAA star and All-Ireland winner Greg McCartan posted a video on social media in which he appeared to hurl abuse, including ‘Up the Ra’ and ‘black b*****ds’, as bands paraded through Newcastle on Saturday night.

UUP Councillor Alan Lewis

UUP Councillor Alan Lewis

He also tweeted: “So much culture on show tonight throughout Ireland. Glad I played my part.”

One Twitter user asked Mr McCartan if he was the one chanting in the video, to which he replied: “Lolz yup.”

The original tweet has since been deleted, and Mr McCartan now appears to have deactivated his Twitter account.

Prior to this, he stated: “Apologies to anyone who took offence to my tweet the other night folks. Lesson learned should never have happened. Alcohol no excuse.”

But Ulster Unionist Councillor Alan Lewis said Mr McCartan’s apology “does not go far enough” and he urged police to treat the incident as a hate crime.

He told the News Letter: “You can only blame alcohol to a certain extent. This was vile sectarian abuse that was being shouted within earshot of young children. Police need to make an example of people like this.

“For a number of years there was a lot of community tensions surrounding this parade, and in recent years it has been a lot better. It only takes one or two people like this to drag us back.

“Many spectators were thrilled by the display and depth of musical talent.

“However, while walking down the street it was obvious that a particular nasty element of drunken males had turned out.”

Councillor Lewis said he was also verbally abused by some of the spectators, to the extent that one of his young children was left in tears.

“Those responsible should be ashamed of themselves,” he added.

“What was a family friendly event marred by barefaced sectarianism.

“The events on Saturday evening further demonstrates that there are some within society who do not want to see a Protestant about the place.

“We have a right to proudly and respectful display our culture.”

DUP MLA Jim Wells was also watching the parade and said he witnessed “pro-IRA slogans” being shouted. He has also called for the PSNI to treat the incident as a hate crime.

“This band includes several young people and there were children who heard his sectarian outburst,” Mr Wells said.

A PSNI spokesperson told the News Letter: “Police have received reports in relation to a video posted on a social media site over the weekend. Inquiries are continuing.”