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Maskey Slams IFA Decision to Reject Donegal Celtic Appeal

6 June, 2008

Sinn Féin MLA Paul Maskey has slammed the decision of the IFA to reject west Belfast soccer club Donegal Celtics appeal against their exclusion from the newly formed 12 team invitational league.

Mr Maskey said:

"The IFA decision's to exclude Donegal Celtic from the new league is disgraceful and is the latest in a long line of setbacks the club has had to face as it has struggled to bring top level soccer back to west Belfast under the Celtic banner after an absence of several generations.

"Donegal Celtic were denied access to the Irish League for seven years, only succeeding in gaining entry when the club had secured a court date against the IFA with the full support of the Equality Commission.

"The decision today by the IFA defies any logic and raises many serious questions about the procedures employed by that organisation in arriving at this decision.

"Soccer in the six counties has always struggled with sectarianism. Many soccer supporters believe that this sectarianism is institutionalised and that Donegal Celtic club is the latest victim.

''Donegal Celtic is truly a community based club, with few equals in the North of Ireland in terms of youth provision.

"They have been excluded from the new 12 team invitational league despite finishing in 11th position in the premier league, reaching the semi-final of the Irish cup and winning the reserve league.

"'The rejection of Donegal Celtic's appeal against their exclusion is shameful and shows utter disregard to the football community and people of west Belfast." ENDS

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