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Cork City FC says 'no breach to regulations' after TD was removed from stadium amid Delaney protest

Gardaí said that they intervened “following a complaint of a minor assault” at the stadium.

Turner's Cross Stadium.
Turner's Cross Stadium.
Image: Google Maps

Updated Apr 13th 2019, 5:31 PM

CORK CITY FC has said there was “no breach of stadium regulations” after it reviewed CCTV footage of an incident which involved the seizure of an anti-John Delaney banner and the removal of a TD from a match in Turner’s Cross stadium last night.

Earlier today, Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien accused the gardaí of an “over-the-top” reaction to protesters who were holding a “Delaney Out” banner at a League of Ireland match between Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic. 

The Cork North Central TD was attending when he intervened in the incident. 

Videos and eye-witness accounts indicate that protesters refused to hand the banner to stadium security personnel. When the situation escalated, O’Brien intervened. Gardaí then asked the TD to leave the football ground.

He was later allowed back into the grounds, Sinn Féin said in a statement.

O’Brien said that it was “an absurd situation that sees public order police attempt to take a banner from football fans, simply because it criticises the former CEO of the FAI”.

This evening’s tactics from the Gardaí were way over the top. Fans have to be allowed to express their opinion.

“I was ejected from the ground simply for intervening as an elected representative of many Cork City fans,” he added.

In an initial statement to TheJournal.ie, An Garda Síochána said that its members intervened “following a complaint of a minor assault” at the stadium. This was later updated to the following:

Following a minor incident where a flag was seized by staff at Turner’s Cross football stadium last evening, 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,” they added.

Cork City FC released an updated statement this afternoon in which it says the club has since reviewed CCTV of the incident and spoken to all parties involved in the matter.

“At lunchtime, members of club staff and the Board of Management met with Mr Jonathan O’Brien TD, who was, for a short time, removed from the stadium last night.

Having spoken to Mr O’Brien and reviewed the CCTV footage, the club wishes to confirm that there was no breach of stadium regulations by him. This was a frank and positive discussion, and both parties are happy that the matter is now concluded to their mutual satisfaction.

The statement concluded that following its meeting with O’Brien, the club now plans to have further discussions with all key stakeholders involved in advance of its next home fixture “with the intention of ensuring the best match night experience possible for our supporters”.

John Delaney is the former CEO and current Executive Vice President of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). On Wednesday, he and other representatives of the association voluntarily appeared before the Oireachtas Sports Committee to answer questions about the suspended Sports Ireland funding due to financing and governance issues.

Delaney is now expected to leave the FAI, with an announcement confirming so being made as early as tonight. 

With reporting from Adam Daly 

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