Jay Donnelly: IFA to consider charge against Cliftonville player after call by feminists for clarity

The Belfast Feminist Network has called on Cliftonville FC and the IFA to make a definitive statement on the future of Jay Donnelly.

The feminist campaign group welcomed a court jailing the Irish League footballer for three months today for sharing a photograph of himself having sex with a minor.

Cliftonville footballer Jay Donnelly arrives at Belfast Laganside Courts. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Cliftonville footballer Jay Donnelly arrives at Belfast Laganside Courts. ''Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com

Belfast Feminist Network said it welcomed the news that Jay Donnelly’s custodial sentence for sharing an indecent image of a child has been upheld after appeal, albeit reduced from 4 months to 3 months.

“We are pleased also that Judge McFarland centred the impact that this incident had on the young woman at the centre of the case, noting that the dissemination of the photo had a ‘deep and lasting impact’ on her and that she was treated like ‘a sexual conquest or trophy’ so that he could boast to his friends and colleagues” the group said. “This acknowledges the damage done by this kind of cavalier treatment of young women, as well as the fact that the picture in question is now online forever, and the damage cannot be undone by the fact that Donnelly is contrite.

“Unfortunately a short custodial sentence cannot undo the damage either. We are very gratified that in this case the criminal justice system has enforced the law effectively, which is all too rare.

“In addition, however, we encourage the use of a reparative approach to this kind of crime, which can minimise the rates of reoffending by ensuring that those responsible understand the wrong associated with their crime, regardless of the age of the victim and regardless of the court’s assessment of the impact of the crime.

“Some public reaction to this has been dismissive, passing off Donnelly’s crime as inconsequential or even normal, and clearly it was considered unremarkable to share intimate pictures among his friends and Cliftonville colleagues. This attitude must be addressed if we really want to tackle the causes of these kinds of crimes; it is always wrong to share such images without permission, regardless of the age of the victim and regardless of whether or not one is caught.

“Finally we call on Cliftonville and the IFA to make a decisive statement on where Donnelly’s future stands with regard to his position at the club and his football career.”

An IFA spokesman said: “Following his sentencing, the Irish FA will now consider a charge against Jay Donnelly of bringing the game into disrepute. The safeguarding of children remains the highest priority of the Association and our sympathy is with the victim and her family in this case.”

Cliftonville Football Club said it has noted the final judgement in court proceedings in relation to Jay Donnelly.

“The Club’s Management Committee will now take cognisance of the final judgement, related matters, the input of relevant bodies and will follow the required Club disciplinary procedures,” it said.

“We wish to reiterate, as outlined in previous statements, that Cliftonville FC recognises the impact that this has had on the victim and her family. We condemn such actions without question.”