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Collared Celtic fans fail to have convictions overturned for wearing 'IRA' T-shirts to Linfield clash

Men had previously won an appeal to have convictions overturned at smaller court

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Celtic Park

Celtic Park

Celtic Park

Three Celtic fans have failed in a bid to have their convictions overturned for wearing T-shirts with pro-IRA slogans on them at a Champions League qualifier with Linfield in 2017 at Parkhead.

Martin MacAuley, Ryan Walker and Daniel Ward wore the T-shirts, depicting a figure wearing a black beret, with sunglasses and a camouflage mask to the football match.

In the first leg of the qualifier at Windsor Park in Belfast, Celtic player Leigh Griffiths was struck with a Buckfast bottle during the game which had been thrown from a member of the crowd.

The police also said that banners unfurled during the second leg in the area of the stadium where Celtic’s hardcore fanbase - 'the Green Brigade' - normally stand during matches, caused an "immediate response" and "hostile reaction" from Linfield fans at the match.

At the second leg game in which the three convicted men had been wearing the T-shirts, it's understood the police had feared tensions would escalate into a 'powderkeg' situation after the trouble in the first leg.

Cops arrested the three because they believed the depiction on the T-shirts referenced paramilitary links to the IRA and feared the images may spark trouble.

The men were convicted in February of breach of the peace offences but they later had their convictions quashed at the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh afterwards.

Prosecution lawyers then took the case to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh and in a judgement issued yesterday the three sitting judges ordered the reinstatement of the convictions.

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