Larne Football Club has taken swift action against player John Herron, after a photo was widely circulated on social media over the weekend of the former Celtic midfielder wearing a pro-IRA t-shirt.
A spokesperson for Larne Football Club said:
“Following the circulation of an image online yesterday evening (Sunday), Larne Football Club can confirm John Herron has been suspended with immediate effect.
“For the period of his suspension, John will not represent the club in fixtures at any level. An investigation into this incident is now underway.
“We have shown that we are an inclusive football club for all, demonstrated not only in words but also by our extensive work in the local community. There is no room for behaviour which falls outside of this ethos and we fully expect members, players and anyone associated with the club to reflect these standards at all times.
“We will be making no further comment until the investigation has been completed.”
The picture has attracted widespread condemnation for the footballer.
Mid and East Antrim Alliance Councillor Danny Donnelly said:
“I've been sent a picture of what seems to be a Larne FC player wearing a t-shirt with a pro-IRA slogan. This is highly offensive and will be sickening to many victims and their families. The club and the IFA should investigate his behaviour in this regard and take action.”
Meanwhile East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons reacted saying:
“The glorification of the IRA, or any other terrorist organisation, is utterly unacceptable. Sadly, this is something we have seen all too often lately and it must be condemned unequivocally. It hasn't been helped by the recent comments of Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill who said that there was "no alternative" to the violence of the IRA.
“Many people have been in touch with me today following a picture that has been posted online showing a Larne FC player wearing a "Up the Ra" t-shirt. This will be abhorrent to all right thinking people in the town and beyond.
“Having spoken to senior officials at the club this evening, I'm glad that they understand the sense of anger that many in the town are feeling.
“Let's make no mistake, the brutal, bloody and sectarian campaign of the IRA and its members is not something that should ever be celebrated, honoured or made light of.
“I hope that those who have engaged in such behaviour this weekend will recognise how hurtful their actions have been to those who have suffered so much at the hands of the IRA.”