• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Lennon reprimands Celtic star over Real IRA tribute

CELTIC Football Club has disciplined one of its players for attending a memorial tribute to a notorious member of the Real IRA.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Neil Lennon disciplined Anthony Stokes.
HEAD-TO-HEAD: Neil Lennon disciplined Anthony Stokes.

Manager Neil Lennon said Anthony Stokes had damaged the reputation of the club after apparently being photographed at a benefit in Dublin in honour of Alan "The Model" Ryan, who was shot dead in September.

The Celtic manager confirmed last night the club had taken action over the incident. "We spoke to him,'' said Lennon, confirming but not detailing the "internal'' action.

He added: "I am not going to moralise to him, but you cannot damage the reputation of the club. He is aware of that now. It has been dealt with internally.''

Asked if he believed Stokes, a signing from Hibernian, had damaged the club's reputation, the manager replied: "Yeah.''

Pressed on whether Stokes had learned from the incident and taken the implications on board, Lennon said: "Absolutely, yes.''

Ryan, 32, was reported to be the leader of the Dublin brigade of the Real IRA, the breakaway faction opposed to Northern Ireland's peace process. He is believed to have been responsible for two murders in the past two years. His killer fired six shots from a Glock handgun, hitting Ryan in the chest.

At the time of his death, Ryan had been due to go on trial alongside John Stokes, the father of the Celtic striker, and two other men over alleged intimidation of a city-centre publican in Dublin.

The Celtic forward has been strongly criticised for his attendance at the tribute event and has received death threats on Twitter.

The disciplinary move against Stokes comes after both Lennon and chairman Peter Lawwell condemned the singing of pro-IRA songs at matches.

Celtic were fined £12,700 last December for "illicit chanting" at the Europa League game against Rennes at Celtic Park, with Mr Lawwell describing the singing as an embarrassment to the club and to the majority of supporters. Joe O'Rourke, secretary of the Celtic Supporters' Association, said: "If Lenny has taken some sort of action internally, then I would imagine he thinks that's the right way to do it.

"Neil Lennon is in charge of the team, he is in charge of discipline. I wouldn't presume to tell Neil what to do, and even if I did, he wouldn't listen to me."

Asked if he felt what Stokes had done was wrong, he said: "Anthony Stokes is Irish, if someone comes from Ireland, they have a completely different take on what has been happening in the last 50 to 60 years than what someone from Scotland, England or even Wales might have.

"He has a background that I don't know about. It could well be that there are things that have happened in his life and his family that make him feel the way he would feel or perceived to feel.

"I don't know and it is none of my business quite frankly, and I don't want to know. So I don't have a comment to make on it."

Ryan was notorious for extorting cash from drug dealers and businessmen across the city and demanding protection money from firms.

He was previously convicted of taking part in a Real IRA weapons training camp in County Meath in 2001 and served a prison sentence for possession of a firearm in a separate incident.

Mr Stokes Snr, who owns the Players Lounge in Dublin along with his son, was last year ordered to take down a banner from outside the pub ahead of the Queen's visit in May.

The banner, which carried two pictures of the Queen, said: "As long as the British occupy one inch of this island they will never be welcome in Ireland."

CELTIC Football Club has disciplined one of its players for attending a memorial tribute to a notorious member of the Real IRA.

Manager Neil Lennon said Anthony Stokes had damaged the reputation of the club after apparently being photographed at a benefit in Dublin in honour of Alan "The Model" Ryan, who was shot dead in September.

The Celtic manager confirmed last night the club had taken action over the incident. "We spoke to him,'' said Lennon, confirming but not detailing the "internal'' action.

He added: "I am not going to moralise to him but you cannot damage the reputation of the club. He is aware of that now. It has been dealt with internally.''

Asked if he believed Stokes, a signing from Hibernian, had damaged the club's reputation, the manager replied: "Yeah.''

Pressed on whether Stokes had learned from the incident and taken the implications on board, Lennon said: "Absolutely, yes.''

Ryan, 32, was reported to be the leader of the Dublin brigade of the Real IRA, the breakaway faction opposed to Northern Ireland's peace process. He is believed to have been responsible for two murders in the past two years. His killer fired six shots from a Glock handgun, hitting Ryan in the chest.

The Celtic forward has been strongly criticised for his attendance at the tribute event and has received death threats on Twitter.

The disciplinary move against Stokes comes after both Lennon and chairman Peter Lawwell condemned the singing of pro-IRA songs at matches.

Celtic were fined £12,700 last December for "illicit chanting" at the Europa League game against Rennes at Celtic Park, with Mr Lawwell describing the singing as an embarrassment to the club and to the majority of supporters. Joe O'Rourke, secretary of the Celtic Supporters' Association, said: "If Lenny has taken some sort of action internally, then I would imagine he thinks that's the right way to do it.

"Neil Lennon is in charge of the team, he is in charge of discipline. I wouldn't presume to tell Neil what to do, and even if I did, he wouldn't listen to me."

Asked if he felt what Stokes had done was wrong, he said: "Anthony Stokes is Irish, if someone comes from Ireland, they have a completely different take on what has been happening in the last 50 to 60 years than what someone from Scotland, England or even Wales might have.

"He has a background that I don't know about. It could well be that there are things that have happened in his life and his family that make him feel the way he would feel or perceived to feel.

"I don't know and it is none of my business quite frankly, and I don't want to know. So I don't have a comment to make on it."

Ryan was notorious for extorting cash from drug dealers and businessmen across the city and demanding protection money from firms.

He was previously convicted of taking part in a Real IRA weapons training camp in County Meath in 2001 and served a prison sentence for possession of a firearm in a separate incident.

Mr Stokes Snr, who owns the Players Bar in Dublin along with his son, was last year ordered to take down a banner from outside the pub ahead of the Queen's visit in May.

The banner, which carried two pictures of the Queen, said: "As long as the British occupy one inch of this island they will never be welcome in Ireland."

Contextual targeting label: 
Block list

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

130297