Soccer Violence: Statements.

Thursday, 16 February 1995

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 141 No. 18

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[2062]An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  The time limits agreed on the Order of Business are seven minutes for spokespersons and five minutes for other Senators.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  It is difficult to express one's feelings about what happened yesterday. The scenes we saw on television were frightening, even life threatening. It is difficult to comprehend how one would respond to it. The game of soccer is as good a game as one could get and this was a slur on a fantastic game and everything which surrounds it.

The people I feel most sorry for are the English fans who came over to see a good game of soccer, who appreciate their game, travelled to enjoy themselves and are now tarred with the same brush as the thugs who came, not to see a game, not to enjoy themselves, but to cause trouble and carry on a campaign which they have been undertaking in England and which has nothing to do with soccer or sport.

I spoke with some English fans last night who were over for the game and they were appalled and ashamed. They were, however, complimentary towards us, because, given what happened, we were prepared to talk to them. This is a frightening situation for decent people in their neighbouring country and it arose because of the slur which has been brought on the English fans.

The hooligans disgraced themselves. They are not interested in soccer. Some of them have been identified with and are known members of the National Front. We are aware that the agenda of this organisation is to destroy society as we know it. It is a racist organisation in the worst sense, and it is a sad reflection on British society that these people can, as it would appear to us, thrive, develop and promote themselves. Let us hope that Irish society never becomes like that. In this respect there is a marker here for us. We must be thankful for what is good on our society and must [2063] ensure that we do not go down the road which some sections of British society have taken.

It has been suggested that the State and the authorities were not ready for this. We are a civilised society. Should we be expecting this every time we go to a game? Questions must be answered and investigations must take place, which we know and accept. However, to assume automatically that every time there is a friendly game one must be ready for all kinds of violence would mean becoming an intolerable society. It is almost akin to saying that there should be a police state, whether it be for a hurling match, a football match, a soccer match, a rugby match or whatever. Should we be ready for all this? There were signs of it yesterday, and perhaps it will emerge in the investigation, which I do not wish to pre-empt.

This is a tragedy for the Irish fans who are known throughout the world as among the best. They enjoy themselves, they sing, they go to their game, they have their chants, they are friendly and there is never a hint of any problems. However, there is tarring from the fact that these incidents happened in Dublin. I note from one of the British papers that some Irish were arrested also. Some Irish probably reacted and got into trouble, and who would blame them? It is a pity that there is some slur on the Irish fans, who are the best fans of any nation. We should always compliment them on how they behave themselves abroad, and long may it remain the case.

I compliment the gardaí of whom there has been some criticism. From what I saw on television they moved decisively and controlled the situation. They contained the people who were creating the problems and they got them out of the country without causing further havoc. They were contained within the pitch and the decent fans were allowed to go their way. Think of what would have happened if they were not contained, and if those people got loose on the streets of Dublin last night. [2064] Then we could criticise the gardaí, but they contained them and removed them from the country without causing any other problems, and they should be complimented for this. I heard some BBC commentators complimenting the gardaí last night on how they handled the situation, and how decisive they were. Somebody hinted about police brutality on one of the foreign stations, and the other panellists turned on him, pointing out that it was time to handle situations like this in such a manner and they complimented the gardaí in the way the carried out their work.

English soccer must put its house in order. There is a problem. Tickets were obtained by those who were known to the British authorities as people not interested in the game but only in hooliganism and the destruction of society. A substantial number of these people were able to get tickets through their English contacts, through the FA and so on. Questions must be answered as to how this was achieved, and questions must also be answered here as to what should be in place to recognise those people entering the country. Hopefully there will be an opportunity to discuss the report when it is published, and I will not pre-empt the outcome of it.

Soccer is a great game of skill. Some great people follow it and many people derive much enjoyment from it. I have a young lad aged nine years who is fanatical about Liverpool. I cannot get him to study, because he will not need points to become a professional soccer player with Liverpool. Coming from a hurling country, soccer is perhaps my second game, but it is enjoyed by people of all ages, and long may it continue.

The sooner the hooliganism is handled by those who should be responsible for it — and this is, primarily, the FA and the British people — the better. However, we must be conscious that if the English team are visiting this country we may have problems. I understand that Scotland and England cannot play a soccer game between themselves because of the likelihood of violence. I heard this last night and I was amazed [2065] that in a civilised western society two teams, under the one umbrella of Britain, cannot play a game. Perhaps there might be good reason for Cork and Limerick, in a hurling match, not to play. That is a joke, a Chathaoirligh.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  I should hope so.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Questions must be answered.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  We will meet on the first Sunday in July.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  We will win, anyway. It does not make any difference.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  Senator Neville, I am reminded by the Clerk of the Seanad that you should also introduce Tipperary.

Mr. Neville: Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  I wish to conclude my contribution on this lighter note, and I look forward to meeting Senator Magner on the first Sunday in July.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Sean Fallon  Zoom on Sean Fallon  I call on Senator Mulcahy, who has seven minutes.

Mr. Mulcahy: Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  I am confident, a Chathaoirligh, that you and other Members of the Seanad will join with me in condemning out of hand, and in the strongest possible terms, the unprecedented violence, hooliganism and mayhem which we all witnessed last night at Lansdowne Road. I thank the Leader of the House for having the flexibility to allow these statements to be made. I wish, at the same time, to express regret that the Minister for Justice is not in the Chamber.

This is a most serious matter because it is a core obligation of any State to provide a police service and to provide for law and order in all situations. I would not be overstating it if I said that there is deep disquiet at the events of last night, and the fact that a relatively small number — the papers put it at perhaps 150 to 200 people — a hard core of 200 thugs could reduce an [2066] important international and what should have been a joyous sporting occasion into a recipe for disaster and mayhem.

Unfortunately, and of course the Minister is not to blame for this, we have been witness in recent times to a whole series of violent and criminal acts, such as the Brinks-Allied incident and the recent murders which have taken place. People are beginning to wonder when the lawlessness is going to come to an end, and when are we going to come to grips with it.

In terms of last night, there is little doubt as to the real cause of the violence. It was a small number of hard core thugs from England who travelled, not to enjoy a football match, but with the deliberate intent of disrupting a major soccer event. Some of them may have been politically motivated. It is correctly said that this is in sharp contrast to the excellence of the Irish fans who have achieved a worldwide reputation of being good humoured, loyal, friendly and joyous, which is how fans should be.

Obviously, a number of questions arise as to how these people were permitted to travel in a group, secure a number of tickets so as to remain together, gain admittance to Lansdowne Road and create chaos. These questions are all the more serious for us because we are not used to football violence; we are not used to violence from our rugby, Gaelic or soccer fans or any other fans who attend our matches in Ireland or abroad.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with the English supporters. We know of the events in West Germany in 1988 concerning English fans, Stockholm and Poland in 1989, Italy and Dublin in 1990, Malmo in 1992 and Rotterdam in 1993. There is an absolute, clear and unequivocal record of English thuggery and hooliganism over a number of years. The Garda have admitted they were in contact with their English counterparts. If we had all this foreknowledge, why were we not better prepared? That is a most serious question [2067] which should be answered in this and the Lower House.

There are three sets of questions for three sets of people — the Football Association of Ireland, the Garda Síochána and the Minister for Justice. In relation to the FAI the question arises as to how these people got tickets in the first place. Why were they not properly vetted by the Football Association in England? Why were there not proper searches at the stadium in Lansdowne Road? Who designed the seating arrangements whereby there was no segregation of the Irish and English supporters? Those are three very serious questions which the FAI will have to answer to the inquiry when it is set up.

It has become fashionable in certain parties — not in mine, I hope — to criticise the Garda Síochána. I admire the dedication and commitment of the gardaí last night who, in very difficult circumstances, risked their safety for our welfare. They also risked themselves on the streets of Dublin after the match. They did a good job in the stadium.

However, who was responsible for overall security? The Garda was in touch with its English counterpart on an hourly basis in the last few days and before that on a daily basis. Why did it not take different steps to ensure that this would not happen? Why were the thugs not filtered in some kind of screening process? How was it that the leader of our party. Deputy Bertie Ahern, could have thugs from the National Front pointed out to him in the stadium by an official of the Football Association? Why were these people allowed in by the Garda authorities?

This raises serious questions for the Minister for Justice. It would not be fair to allege that she takes entire responsibility for yesterday. However, she should be here to answer questions. Did she have any meetings with the Garda Commissioner to discuss security arrangements in advance of this match? Was she informed by the Garda authorities that there was likely to be a problem [2068] at this match? If she was not informed, why was she not, and will she take steps to ensure that she will be informed in the future? If she was informed, what plans did she put in place to make sure this would not happen?

We are lucky people were not killed last night and that it was confined to injuries. I ask the Leader of the House and Senator Neville, in the Leader's absence, to ask the Minister to come here as a matter of urgency to debate these most important issues with us. If the Minister does not come here to fully explain this to us it will be difficult for us to retain confidence in her as the person in charge of security.

Mr. Magner: Information on Patrick Magner  Zoom on Patrick Magner  I echo many of the remarks made by Senator Mulcahy on this matter. I was in the west stand last night and it is a miracle people were not killed as there was a great deal of panic and distress. If there is one reputation known throughout the world, from darkest Africa to Florida, it is that of English so-called football fans. They constitute a unique segment of followers in so far as they bring with them violence, mayhem and sometimes death wherever they go. Condemnation is one thing but the lessons we learn from it are another.

Last night's actions by the Garda were some of the bravest acts I have seen by unarmed people dealing with thugs. That bravery deserves effective leadership and management, something the gardaí did not get from their superiors. Questions have to be asked about that. The gardaí were unarmed or armed only with batons — no match for the iron bars being wielded on the west stand.

The gardaí in that stand or on the pitch yesterday, cannot be blamed because things moved rather slowly. Many chairs sailed over that balcony last night before the gardaí were able to advance. There is no question in my mind that the bulk of the English fans in that section were not corralled as they [2069] ought to have been by a substantial force of police.

There are a number of questions which should be asked, the most pertinent of which were mentioned by Senator Mulcahy. Tickets were given to known thugs — how did they get them? It was vitally important that the English and Irish police liaise and that intelligence was gathered and exchanged. The authorities knew prior to the match that there would be violence, although not the dimensions of it, and yet these people had tickets. It struck me forcibly at the time that the touts should have been arrested on the spot. If the system could be defeated by ensuring that touts did not get tickets in the UK, why do we allow touts on the street? Touts were selling tickets outside the stadium last night while people, including gardaí, looked at them.

Why were the fans mixed? Some of the English fans were members of the National Front who do not play around. Dogs would not be put with some of them, never mind ordinary people, and yet the fans were mixed. That was idiocy for which there is no excuse. They were put into the top tier of the stand which is probably the most inaccessible part of the west stand. The trouble could have been stopped fairly quickly when the first chair sailed onto the pitch if they had been on the bottom of the stand. Why were the FAI allowed to use such a seating arrangement?

The tributes which have been paid in this House to the Garda are well merited. They were extremely brave and effective. However, behind the west stand, these so-called fans or thugs, were baying. It was only then — and I saw it myself — that the police vans rolled in with the riot squad equipped with batons and shields. They were not in the stadium when the riot happened. They had to be called in. This is a matter of management and of less effective policing than one ought to see in such a situation.

I thank and praise the gardaí who were on the ground, the stewards who were extremely good and effective, and [2070] the announcer whose calm, measured tones throughout the melee had a most calming effect on people. I also thank the Irish public. Many people there would gladly have gone to the aid of the civil power in this case but common sense took over. They too deserve the thanks and applause of the House. I look forward, as Senator Mulcahy does, to an investigation and a response from the relevant authorities, including the Minister for Justice.

Mr. Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  It is difficult to say that one is glad to take part in this debate because the events which prompted it are so disgraceful. My father was English and I consider myself half English. I will not say that I am ashamed to be half English but I am bitterly ashamed of the behaviour of those people. They have brought great discredit to the English people. It is so serious that I hope a protest will be made to the British Embassy about the behaviour of British citizens in this country.

I wonder what has happened to the much vaunted sporting spirit of the British, where the game was more important than winning. However, I do not think this is about sport or soccer. These people were not soccer fans. It was a small orchestrated group which operated quite deliberately to disrupt the game for political motives. I do not think their political intelligence is particularly good but they were attempting to do this because they have previously come out in support of extreme unionism. The Combat 18 group is an offshoot of the infantile National Front movement, which is growing in Britain. They deliberately, over a comparatively long period of time, orchestrated and planned this event and they were facilitated by the lack of proper monitoring by the English FA.

The whole ethos of Britain is called into question by this event. It is not just soccer hooliganism. I was interested to hear the remarks of the soccer correspondent of The Sun newspaper read [2071] out on RTE radio, in which he said he was ashamed to be English. He should not be ashamed to be English but he should be ashamed to write for The Sun. If there is any force in Britain that has demoralised the British and brought out the worst and the most loutish, immoral and unprincipled behaviour it is The Sun. It has consistently targeted and vilified groups. It has led to an increase in xenophobia. It consistently lies, libels and slanders and does not mind picking up the libel bill because it increases circulation.

Taking into account the behaviour of these so-called fans, I have been on the receiving end of the Prevention of Terrorism Act entering or even passing through Britain. Although I am a peaceable man, a public representative and a citizen of a decent country, I have been interrogated and aggravated by this. Do we have such legislation? Should we not have something to prevent the type of terrorism we saw yesterday? I note that some people were scooped up the previous day after they seriously wounded a barman in the centre of Dublin. If these people are sentenced to terms in jail, the Irish taxpayers will have to pay for their bad behaviour. I very much resent this.

There were a number of problems, to which previous speakers referred, about the allocation of tickets. It is quite extraordinary, given that tickets are numbered and distributed through FA travel clubs and they are supposed to have the photograph of the recipient on them and be signed by a senior official. How did they get into the hands of these known thugs? It was known for several days that these people were travelling in a small group, I understand of about 50, to this country. This information was passed on, by the Manchester police in particular, to the Garda and it is a pity it was not acted upon.

I spoke yesterday about the family in terms which suggested that I took a certain critical view of the family. However, the difference in character of the Irish fans relates, to a certain extent, [2072] to the fact that going to these soccer matches is a family excursion. People come with their children and younger family members. Due to a type of Irish ethos — and the Irish fans behaved extremely well — if there are one or two drunken louts, who can turn up in any contingent, they are effectively policed and subdued by the surrounding attitudes and behaviour of the remaining Irish fans. What seemed to happen last night, from what I saw on television, was that a small group of people were able to ignite the rest so that rather than subduing them, they helped to inflame them.

However, we cannot exonerate ourselves completely. I note that one of the newspapers said the British national anthem was played and this caused resentment and booing. We really must grow up. It is not acceptable that the national anthem of a neighbouring country should be booed. I remember a time when the RDS was afraid to fly the Union Jack. The Union Jack and the British national anthem have been disgraced by British soccer fans but there are many decent people in England. These are also their national emblems and they should not be insulted in our country. This type of behaviour is not appropriate on our part but it certainly was not sufficient to spark off the type of near riot which took place.

Although I have reservations about the planning, distribution of tickets and the location of pockets of fans on a balcony, where they were virtually impregnable, could rip up seats and throw stuff down, the police behaved extremely well. The dangerous situation was contained and the clear evidence of this is that so few people were seriously injured. I express my sympathy to those who were injured but it is remarkable that so few were hurt in what was an extremely dangerous and regrettable situation.

Acting Chairman (Mr. Sherlock): Information on Joe Sherlock  Zoom on Joe Sherlock  I propose to call Senator Dardis before going back to the Government side. The [2073] Senator indicated that he wished to leave the House.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  If the House was agreeable, it would facilitate me.

Acting Chairman:  I will call the Senator because there is a reason. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Mr. Dardis: Information on John Dardis  Zoom on John Dardis  I thank the House and the Acting Chairman. It is quite extraordinary that the House is discussing a soccer match. It displays the depth of disbelief regarding what took place last night in Lansdowne Road. We are all greatly disturbed by what we saw on the television and by what people there saw. A debate was taking place in the House at the time. A Senator came in and whispered that the match was abandoned. The first reaction was to wonder how it could possibly be abandoned — perhaps somebody was killed on the field or broke their neck. It then transpired that it was as a result of these events and there was absolute disbelief that it could happen.

I watched the pictures on television with utter disbelief last night when I went home. It is absolutely astonishing that such a small group of people in a crowd of more than 40,000 could wreak such havoc and devastation and that there should be such manifest viciousness. From late last night and early this morning — it started before “Morning Ireland” on radio — the media gallop has been to find someone to blame. However, I did not hear the point until late last night on television that the thugs were to blame, not the FAI, the Garda or the FA. I subscribe to what has been said by Senator Mulcahy in respect of the questions that arise as a result of the incidents, but let us not forget that the incidents were caused by the thugs.

I dispute Senator Mulcahy's point that it is fashionable in certain parties to criticise the Garda. I do not know of any party which regards it as fashionable in this democracy to criticise the Garda. One might at times wonder about certain [2074] operational aspects of their work, but nobody criticises their capacity or bravery or that they had to intervene last night and did so effectively when called upon. Perhaps there were good operational reasons for not having gardaí so visible in the ground at the start of the game to try to defuse the situation. Let those matters be teased out; let us have explanations. I agree with Senator Mulcahy that the Minister should be here to give us her views on some of those matters.

The primary responsibility is with the thugs and the only sure way of avoiding this happening is not to have the fixture. It is easy in hindsight to say that there should not have been a fixture but I am not in favour of modifying every stadium, having a ring of steel and people escorted from the boat, brought in convoy to the ground and brought home again. These are being used as excuses to have the matches and that is not the response. If those people want to behave like that, do not have the match. That is the reason there is no Scotland and England matches. Are we expected to create stadia that accommodate these people in a secure location at enormous expense so they can carry on in the way they do? That is not acceptable.

I agree with Senator Norris that what we saw last night was political. I want to draw a connection which is not as tenuous as might appear. Last week when we marked the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz I said that it could happen again. It must not happen again, but what we saw last night is the manifestation of what brought about Auschwitz. It is such activity that created Auschwitz and it is still there. There is no doubt that it goes well beyond trying to break up a stadium or trying to discommode people.

If one wanted an image of the disbelief at the incidents we saw it on every television bulletin last night and I am sure it went around the world. It was the picture of the young boy in Lansdowne Road looking up at the stand and failing utterly to comprehend how something like this could happen. I am sure his [2075] father also failed to comprehend it as did we all.

Everybody is looking for people to blame. Perhaps the media should look at themselves to a degree. On the ITN “News at Ten” last night the reporter from Lansdowne Road speculated what might happen in the city afterwards, that this might spill over into the streets of Dublin. We were apprehensive that there would be trouble but that in itself is creating an atmosphere. Thankfully, when the Garda intervened it got rid of these people and we did not have chaos in Dublin last night. For that it is to be thanked.

I agree with Senator Norris's remarks about The Sun and newspapers of that ilk. Look at some of the headlines that have been published over the past years about French people and what they call them, continentals and what they call them, and, probably, Irish and what they call them. That foments the hatred, xenophobia and racism which led to Auschwitz.

The late Bill Shankly said that soccer was not a matter of life and death, it was much more important than that. Last night we nearly saw it as a matter of life and death. We should record our sympathy to those innocent bystanders who were caught up and injured. One person had a heart attack, perhaps as a direct result, leaving the ground and the House should record its sympathy to that person's family.

Mr. Cotter: Information on William Cotter  Zoom on William Cotter  I join the House in condemning last night's incidents. It was an incredible example of hooliganism that interrupted an ordinary sporting occasion. One wonders what the definition of sport is these days. I had personal experiences on the terraces in England. My son is a fanatical supporter of Manchester United and on his 12th birthday I visited Old Trafford with him, the match was against Liverpool. It was my first experience and very frightening. I came away with the feeling that there is an underlying violence in soccer. What I saw from the body of people [2076] at that match was violence from one group towards another. When the match was over the police insisted that the Liverpool supporters remained locked up for 45 minutes until everybody left the area. They were then shepherded to the trains and sent home.

I got an insight on that occasion that I did not enjoy. I thought it a disgrace that my 12 year old son should see that happening. We waited around and visited parts of the stadium we could not have seen before the match. He was interested in looking at what he considered the Mecca of football. However, for him to come away with such an experience was degrading and unworthy of sport.

Sport is much the same the world over. It is intended as a relaxation and a pastime. Supporters are partisan people and that is understandable — one shouts for one's team. We regularly attend matches and the terraces are peaceful; people shout for their own team standing side by side with supporters of the other team. Rarely does one see any violence; only occasionally when people are a bit hot under the collar.

However, what we saw last night was anarchy. In England, as in Germany, there is an underlying trend towards anarchy. The British authorities are well aware of that and I cannot understand how these people are allowed on the terraces weekend after weekend. When I became aware of the full details of last night's episode I said that the British authorities should try to take steps to prevent these people leaving the country for matches. I understand that the British authorities and the police were aware that these people were travelling to Ireland. I also understand that message was not delivered formally to the Garda. If they were aware that they were travelling here and aware of their potential and their intention for destruction why did they not take steps to prevent them leaving the country?

There should be a blacklist of these people. The police in England seem to know them. They should not be allowed [2077] on the terraces on weekends; they should not be allowed to go to matches in other countries because they always do what they did last night.

I was speaking to an English industrialist recently about industrial development in Ireland and in an aside to the conversation he mentioned that people working in animal research in England are afraid of their lives. There are people who will do anything to further their cause. They have threatened people with loss of life. Such an anarchical trend exists in England and it has to be dealt with, and that is what happened in Lansdowne Road last night. Those people were let loose in the midst of a crowd enjoying its football and it had disastrous consequences. Instead of putting the blame on the FAI, the FA and everybody else, we have to suggest that English society has a problem to deal with and English society will have to tackle it. I hope the English authorities do come to grips with it at some stage for the benefit of everybody on the globe. Sport is sport, we enjoy it and we need to be able to continue to enjoy it.

Acting Chairman:  I would like to remind Members that all speakers have five minutes each.

Mr. Lanigan: Information on Mick Lanigan  Zoom on Mick Lanigan  I, like the other Members, am delighted to have the opportunity to discuss this matter today. I do not think we should put the blame on the FA, the FAI, the Garda or the authorities. As has been said, it was the thugs who were to blame. What happened last night did not happen in isolation. On 5 February, 40,000 soccer matches in Italy were cancelled because of the violence that has been happening at the soccer matches in that country. The day of Reflection of 5 February was called because a fan died in Genoa as a result of soccer violence. I have travelled to many places to sporting events. I have been to matches and athletics events but the only time I have ever felt apprehensive was at a soccer match.

Last night, before the match, I was walking down Lansdowne Road at 6.15 [2078] p.m. There was a crowd of hooligans in front of me and their language was abominable. They were not British thugs; they were Irish thugs. I tried to get to the gardaí to ensure that these people would not get into the stadium because they were definitely going to cause trouble, wherever they were going. Before I got to the gardaí, an Englishman said something to them and a melee started. Three or four of them were hauled away by the gardaí — and this was before the match. They were carrying tricolours and wearing Glasgow Celtic badges and insignia. Even before the match, I was apprehensive that there was going to be trouble.

My normal place in Lansdowne Park is on the west lower stand but because of the English fans, some of us were put over on the other side of the stadium. In the beginning, I was a bit annoyed but having seen what happened later, having an almost kaleidoscopic view, I must say that what happened was preventable; there is no question but that it was preventable.

Why should we turn our stadia into armed fortresses? If we have to do that, let us forget about the games altogether because the end game would not justify the means. I am glad we did not have a ring of armed policemen or of riot forces around the park before the match because that could have incited people to violence. I do not want to be in any stadium where we have to be protected by the military, armed gardaí or riot forces.

Somebody will have to talk to the Irish fans because there was a definite intimidation among the Irish fans when they started pointing the fingers in the air: “You'll never beat the Irish”. I was in the second last row of the east stand and I found it frightening for me because there was venom and hatred there. This was not a “Mexican Wave” type of demonstration. It was, in a lot of cases, hatred. That type of intimidation is what the FAI will have to try to stop. They have been very good at stopping incidents inside and outside stadia in the past. This carry on reminds me of Mexico [2079] when the Americans, after winning Olympic medals, punched the air with their fists in a racist manner. It is fascism, it is blackshirt thinking; it is blue-shirt thinking and it should not be allowed in any stadium.

The gardaí, male and female, did a tremendous job last night. They did their best to control the situation. I do not think they should have rushed in immediately the trouble started because it might have escalated it. To say that the FAI or the gardaí should have known how to deal with this small group of thugs who came over from England is a fallacy. They should not have been let out of England. If the monitoring group in Manchester knew who these people were and knew they were going to Ireland, how did they get out of the country? There were only two boats and the few planes they could board? I have seen soccer fans at King's Cross Station, going off to international matches with their Union Jacks draped about them. The hatred displayed before they got on the trains at King's Cross Station would have to be seen to be believed. The English authorities will have to do something about it.

Thuggery is on the increase in British sport. Soccer is no longer a British sport. Professional soccer is a very professional business and the players themselves occasionally create the atmosphere which leads fans to go astray.

Mr. Maloney: Information on Sean Maloney  Zoom on Sean Maloney  I want to condemn the actions of the thugs who where in Lansdowne Road last night. What was shaping up to be an excellent match turned very sour at the end of the day. We have to extend our sympathy to the Irish footballers and the English players who were there to make a match of it, and also to the people who were injured.

I have been very involved in football all my years and I have travelled to matches before the Troubles started in Northern Ireland, when Derry City would have been part of scene in Northern Ireland and used to travel to Belfast. [2080] You had the religious conflict there of Catholic versus Protestant. I remember Linfield coming to Derry to play matches. The train would come into the station at Derry and the fans were met by the police. They were taken straight to the ground, put into a specific part of the ground and then taken straight back to the station. It was organised, unlike what we saw yesterday. Yesterday was definitely not organised. There were massive mistakes made.

We used to travel to Windsor Park in Belfast during the height of the Troubles to see matches. You would never have seen there what we saw in Dublin yesterday. There was hatred there but it seemed to be contained because the authorities and the Football Association seemed to be working together to make sure that we did not get type of violence we saw last night. Violence seems to be part of the football scene, not only in soccer but Gaelic football as well. I read some time ago about a referee who was beaten and put into the boot of a car. We cannot ignore the fact that this type of nonsense does happen. I remember a young man from Donegal being kicked to death in Dublin on the night of the All-Ireland Final in 1992, when Donegal beat Dublin. There seems to be an attitude of win at all costs.

Senator Lanigan talked about the attitude of the Irish supporters; it is not good. There are thugs on all sides and we cannot ignore that fact. Look at the scene in England. It is unbelievable as far as violence is concerned. To give them their due, the authorities in England have tried to contain it. We see people going to matches on Saturdays to support the Chelseas of this world, wearing their three piece suits and they turn out to be the biggest fascists. When they get together, they are a danger to society. Look at the scene in Scotland when Rangers play Celtic. It is altogether unbelievable. The violence has been there down through the years. The language is there. People do not take their children to those matches any more; they would be foolish to do so. [2081] Senator Lanigan touched on the Italian situation. I heard Gay Byrne talking this morning about the great relationship there was between the Irish and the Italians. The knifing to death of a young man in Genoa recently is an example of the violence in that country. We cannot get away from it.

Somebody will have to carry the can for what happened last night. I was listening to the Minister of State at the Department of Education with responsibility for sport and to Deputy Ahern, talking on the field. Sadly, I did not agree with what they said. Mr. Johnny Giles said they were talking nonsense and I think he was right. It was a case of blame society; blame the English FA; the European Championships should not be held in England. It is not for us to tell them that. We should get our own society in order. Mistakes were made yesterday in allowing those people to travel and positioning them in the top tier of the west stand. It was wrong and badly organised. Although warnings had been given, they were ignored.

We have seen much violence in football recently, including the incident involving Eric Cantona. The attitude of newspapers, including The Star, which called them scum, and The Sun, is another example of this. At times the media goes over the top on such issues. When people were being killed in Northern Ireland, those newspapers did not condemn those who murdered them yet they call these English supporters scum; they are not good people, they are thugs. We should not go over the top. What happened last night was unfortunate and an inquiry must be carried out by the Department of Education, which has responsibility for sport, and the Department of Justice to find out what went wrong. Mistakes were made and blame must be attached somewhere.

Mr. Mulcahy: Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Do I get a chance to respond?

[2082]Acting Chairman:  As the proposer you have used your allocated time and there is no provision for a reply.

Sitting suspended at 1.50 p.m. and resumed at 2 p.m.


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