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Michaela McAreavey: NI council to investigate 'defamatory and sectarian' video

The PSNI and Orange Order have also begun investigations.

A LOCAL AUTHORITY in Northern Ireland says it is investigating whether a council employee was among those filmed in a video mocking the murder of Michaela McAreavey.

A video which went viral on social media yesterday was widely condemned after it depicted a room of men singing an offensive song about the 2011 murder of Michaela McAreavey in Mauritius.

Michaela McAreavey, a 27-year-old Irish language teacher from County Tyrone, was killed while on honeymoon in 2011.

She was the daughter of Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.

It is unknown where the video took place but union flags and Orange Order paintings can be seen in the room, leading to the Orange Order to condemn the chant and launch an inquiry.

The council stated today: “While we acknowledge that the behaviour undertaken was carried out in a private capacity, beyond the control of the Council, we wish to reassure the public that we are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness, and have launched an internal investigation”.

It said that the behaviour did not represent its values as an organisation and the council “utterly condemn this type of defamatory and sectarian behaviour” and expressed “sincere sympathy to the McAreavey and Harte families at this distressing time”.

Yesterday, two men in the video issued a public apology through the JWB consultancy firm run by loyalist activist, Jamie Bryson.

John Bell and Andrew McDade said in a joint statement: “It is a matter of deep shame and regret that we became involved in the Facebook live publication of a video which included the singing of an offensive, vile and wholly abhorrent chant about the deceased Michaela McAreavey”.

Belfast’s Linfield Football Club also dismissed one of its coaches after their involvement in the video and apologised for its link to the “deeply offensive video”.

The club has stated that the man was a voluntary coach in the club’s girls’ academy.

Many attempts to identify people in the video went viral on social media, leading to the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service to announce that claims that a firefighter was in the video were untrue.

“Information online stating that one of the individuals involved is a firefighter is incorrect. He is a former employee and has not been employed with NIFRS for a number of years,” the service’s statement read.

The PSNI have also launched an inquiry and major public and political figures from across the island of Ireland have spoken out against the lyrics used.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “It’s beyond comprehension that people could behave in that manner and be so indifferent to the trauma that the family suffered, her entire family and indeed community.

“I think it speaks to a sectarianism and a degree of malice and hate in society that needs to be dealt with and those involved in that should apologise in the first instance”.

He added that the entire community should reflect strongly on the hurt caused.

Sinn Féin vice president, Michelle O’Neill, said that she had reached out to the Harte and McAreavey families to express her sympathy and that “Hate and sectarianism have no place in our society. People deserve better. Love over hate will always win out.”

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson described it as “vile”, “plain wrong” and “deeply hurtful” .

Most recently Republic of Ireland footballer, James McClean, has described the people in the video as ” vile scum, vermin”.

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