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Irish anglers suspended for 'overzealous' use of tricolour flag on Facebook

It is understood that as the team is an all island one, similar to rugby, the team was advised by the IFSA executive not to promote either the flag or the Irish national anthem Amhrán na bhFiann.

IFSA team Back row l -r Derek Kenrick, Stephen O'Donovan, Darren Ryan, JP Molloy Front row l - r Chris O'Sullivan Andrew McCallion, David O'Sullivan

Derek Kenrick

Gerry HandSunday World

Five members of the Irish Sea Angling team which won the Home Championships competition in Weymouth, Dorset in the UK last month have been suspended by the Irish Federation Of Sea Anglers,(IFSA), and their manager has also been banned.

The suspensions have been put in place due to what correspondence to the anglers said was “overzealous use of the Irish tricolour on Facebook and on team clothing.”

It is understood that as the team is an all-island one, similar to rugby, the team was advised by the IFSA executive not to promote either the flag or the Irish national anthem Amhrán na bhFiann.

IFSA believes promoting the Irish flag is at odds with the beliefs of anglers in their organisation who claim British identity.

However, all five team members, brothers Chris and David O'Sullivan, from Kerry, team captain JP Molloy from Waterford, Arklow man Darren Ryan and Cork native Stephen O'Donovan are all from south of the border as is Wexford-based team manager Derek Kenrick.

IFSA secretary, John Martin, from Cork, said: “I won't be making any comment other than to say the suspensions have been handed down, the reports have that right and all six of them know exactly why they are banned.

“Our executive will be holding a Zoom meeting later this week and I expect we will issue a statement at that stage.”

Neither Molloy nor Kenrick would comment on what allegedly happened as all six are currently appealing their bans.

Kenrick would only confirm the names of all the team members and added, 'We have agreed not to make any comment until the appeal process has been gone through.'

However, on his Facebook page he did post an email from the IFSA executive which appears to allow the team use the flag and sing the anthem.

It says: “The tricolour may be flown on the podium or in the parade alongside other national flags. With regard to anthems, the national anthem alongside Ireland's Call may be used."

It appears the anglers appeal may centre on the fact that they claim they stuck to this ruling.

Derek Kenrick

The anglers were given 21 days from the date of the letter to challenge the decision and outline any comments relative to the allegations. They have until August 28 in which to appeal.

The team's assistant manager was Andrew McCallion from Coleraine, in Derry, but it is clear he had no involvement in what led to the bans.

Sources close to the team told us: “A number of pictures and videos of the boys with the flag appeared on the Facebook page of the Munster Provincial council and this seems to have ruffled a few feathers.

“Ironically in one of the videos on the IFSA home page, Chris O Sullivan is clearly seeing unfurling a tricolour at what appears to be a medal presentation ceremony while a woman with a distinctive northern accent is heard advising the lads to put their hats on before they get their medals, nobody seems too bothered about the flag and in fairness they also displayed an IFSA flag as well.

“The Nordies have been getting the blame for complaining over this but in fact it appears it was people from the Republic who got upset over it.

“It seems the hierarchy issued certain instructions, they insisted they said there be no promotion of the tricolour and felt this was ignored.

“The team’s t-shirts had the IFSA’s logo on the front, but a tricolour on the back and a lot of the videos and photos feature the flag prominently.

“The anglers were suspended under IFSA bye-laws, adopted under article 7 of the IFSA Articles of Association, August 2001.

“The other concern the IFSA have is that a new body called the Northern Ireland Federation of Sea Anglers (NIFSA) has emerged in Northern Ireland and they want to represent Northern Ireland as a country on its own.

“IFSA are worried that the other home countries may invite them to the home championships and exclude their team, so they don't want to rock any boats at the moment that might see more Northern Ireland anglers defect to the new kids on the block.”

There is a clear distinction made on the two groups’ Facebook pages.

The NIFSA page states it “brings together all the sea-angling people of Northern Ireland”, whereas the IFSA’s status claims it is about “representing the Sea Angling Community of the island of Ireland.”

The source concluded: “We don't win big competitions that often and this whole mess has taken the joy out of this one.”

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