'verbal abuse' | 

DUP’s Edwin Poots says he was target of ‘up the Ra’ chant on flight from Glasgow to Belfast

Police boarded the plane after passenger engaged in ‘verbal abuse’, says MLA

DUP’s Edwin Poots© PA

Christopher LeebodyBelfast Telegraph

DUP Assembly member Edwin Poots has said he was subjected to “verbal abuse” on a flight from Glasgow to Belfast International after a male passenger directed the phrase ‘up the Ra’ towards him.

The incident happened during an easyJet flight on Saturday evening, with police appearing on board as the plane landed on arrival in Northern Ireland.

In video footage, police officers can be seen on board the aircraft as it touched down at the International Airport.

Former Stormont agriculture minister Mr Poots said the issue was now under investigation by the police and confirmed he did not wish to say anything which may impact this.

When asked if the passenger in question had used the phrase ‘up the Ra’, Mr Poots replied: “Yes”.

“A passenger engaged in verbal abuse and obviously the police were there on arrival,” he added. “This is a matter for the police now and for their investigation.”

The incident marks the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the ‘up the Ra’ lyrics from the Wolfe Tones Celtic Symphony song.

Last month, 34-year-old Crossmaglen mother-of-two Sinead Murtagh filmed a short video of her singing ‘ooh, ah, up the Ra’ next to Dame Arlene Foster, the former DUP First Minister whose father was shot by the IRA.

The voluntary counsellor at St Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, who is now on personal leave, was condemned by many, including Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald, who branded the scenes “deeply disrespectful”.

Ms Foster, who has recently taken her seat in the House of Lords as Baroness Foster of Aghadrumsee, said she found it “depressing” that any young person would find it acceptable to sing pro-IRA slogans.

DUP’s Edwin Poots© PA

Meanwhile, In October a video was widely circulated on social media showing the Ireland Women’s team players celebrating their win against Scotland in Hampden Park, which saw them qualify for the 2023 World Cup, chanting the line from the Celtic Symphony song.

The team and their manager Vera Pauw later apologised.

Last week it was confirmed the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has been fined €20,000 by UEFA following the video footage emerging.

The victims’ and survivors’ group South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) welcomed the fine and said it shows the chanting is “not appropriate behaviour”.

In west Belfast in August, the Wolfe Tones wore shirts honouring the hunger strikers, leading a huge Falls Park audience in a chant of “ooh, ah, up the ‘Ra” at the annual Feile.

Brian Warfield from the band later criticised “crankiness in the DUP” for stirring up controversy over the gig.

“We’re entitled to our own song and culture. They might give medals and titles back to the people who killed for England over the years – Sir or Lord this – but we don’t give titles to the Irish people that fought for freedom. What we do is we give them a song in their memory,” he told the Mirror at the time.

EasyJet last night confirmed that police attended the flight on arrival but decline to comment further.

Airport police have yet to respond to a request comment.

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