Anthony McIntyre
tells the Belfast Telegraph why he thinks Glentoran made the right decision  over the controversial signing of a convicted sex offender

Allan Preston

A former republican prisoner and Glentoran fan has defended the Belfast club over the controversial signing of striker Jay Donnelly.

News that the convicted sex offender was joining the club caused outrage among many fans who said they would no longer attend games in protest.

 
Club manager Mick McDermott has defended the decision, but a women’s group in Belfast accused the club of using language that made excuses for his offence.

Donnelly (25) served a three month jail sentence last year after sharing a video without permission of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl when he was aged 20.

He signed for the Glens earlier this month, and made his debut on Friday night in a friendly against Warrenpoint Town.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Anthony McIntyre said he supported the club’s decision and believed there could be value in giving former prisoners a second chance.

“He should be given the opportunity. I’m a great believer in the Nietzsche observation that ‘beware all of those in whom the desire to punish is strong’,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He did this time for a very wrong offence. The judge did not say he should never be allowed to play football again. I don’t believe that Glentoran are promoting, as a role model, a sex offender. I believe that Glentoran are promoting as a role model somebody who made a mistake and can be a foil against the type of activity for which he was convicted. I can’t see the point in suppressing him; to suppress his creativity, allowing him to drift into despair, depression or isolation. To become unemployable, to be denied to deploy the only skill and possibly re-offend again.

He said calls for a ban for life were “overly punitive,” noting the same calls had been seen before for Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The players were cleared of rape charges in 2018 but sacked from Ulster and Ireland for sending derogatory text messages about women. Both men went on to resume their careers with other clubs.

Mr McIntyre said he agreed with the Glentoran manager that Donnelly’s experience could be used to educate young men, and said he would feel comfortable bringing his own 19-year-old daughter to games.

I would say ‘there’s a guy who was convicted of a sex offence and through the intervention of the Glentoran management has managed to hopefully turn his life around and work to educate young people on the stupidity and egregiousness of being involved in that type of activity’.

He added:

If he decides to become involved in programmes to help re-educate young people, they can learn from his experience. So if there’s a chance that could help other people avoid sexual assault I think that’s a plus. I’m a former republican prisoner but if someone was to tell me there’s a UVF prisoner who killed a Catholic is now playing for Glentoran, and if I would stop supporting the team, I would say ‘no, I think that guy should be given that opportunity.'

On Friday night Donnelly came on as a substitute in the 3-0 friendly win against Warrenpoint at the Oval. Afterwards he tweeted: “Delighted to make my debut for Glentoran and get few minutes under my belt. Wanna thank the fans for lovely reception, on to the next one.”

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

Glentoran's Jay Donnelly Deserves An Opportunity, Says Ex-Prisoner

Anthony McIntyre
tells the Belfast Telegraph why he thinks Glentoran made the right decision  over the controversial signing of a convicted sex offender

Allan Preston

A former republican prisoner and Glentoran fan has defended the Belfast club over the controversial signing of striker Jay Donnelly.

News that the convicted sex offender was joining the club caused outrage among many fans who said they would no longer attend games in protest.

 
Club manager Mick McDermott has defended the decision, but a women’s group in Belfast accused the club of using language that made excuses for his offence.

Donnelly (25) served a three month jail sentence last year after sharing a video without permission of him having sex with a 16-year-old girl when he was aged 20.

He signed for the Glens earlier this month, and made his debut on Friday night in a friendly against Warrenpoint Town.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Anthony McIntyre said he supported the club’s decision and believed there could be value in giving former prisoners a second chance.

“He should be given the opportunity. I’m a great believer in the Nietzsche observation that ‘beware all of those in whom the desire to punish is strong’,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.

He did this time for a very wrong offence. The judge did not say he should never be allowed to play football again. I don’t believe that Glentoran are promoting, as a role model, a sex offender. I believe that Glentoran are promoting as a role model somebody who made a mistake and can be a foil against the type of activity for which he was convicted. I can’t see the point in suppressing him; to suppress his creativity, allowing him to drift into despair, depression or isolation. To become unemployable, to be denied to deploy the only skill and possibly re-offend again.

He said calls for a ban for life were “overly punitive,” noting the same calls had been seen before for Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The players were cleared of rape charges in 2018 but sacked from Ulster and Ireland for sending derogatory text messages about women. Both men went on to resume their careers with other clubs.

Mr McIntyre said he agreed with the Glentoran manager that Donnelly’s experience could be used to educate young men, and said he would feel comfortable bringing his own 19-year-old daughter to games.

I would say ‘there’s a guy who was convicted of a sex offence and through the intervention of the Glentoran management has managed to hopefully turn his life around and work to educate young people on the stupidity and egregiousness of being involved in that type of activity’.

He added:

If he decides to become involved in programmes to help re-educate young people, they can learn from his experience. So if there’s a chance that could help other people avoid sexual assault I think that’s a plus. I’m a former republican prisoner but if someone was to tell me there’s a UVF prisoner who killed a Catholic is now playing for Glentoran, and if I would stop supporting the team, I would say ‘no, I think that guy should be given that opportunity.'

On Friday night Donnelly came on as a substitute in the 3-0 friendly win against Warrenpoint at the Oval. Afterwards he tweeted: “Delighted to make my debut for Glentoran and get few minutes under my belt. Wanna thank the fans for lovely reception, on to the next one.”

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre.

12 comments:

  1. Anthony

    I agrree.

    The offence fior which Jay Donnelly swas convicted was mucbh less serious than thsoe committed by Ched Evans, Adam Johnston and Graham Rix n ot least because of the age differences between perpetrator and victim.

    Far worse crimes have been committed in football and so many other sports by predatory sex anusers suych as Barry Bennell, Bob Hiuggins at Southampton and Torney at Celtic who operated under codes of omerta and by exploiting their power to m ake or break the careers of those in their charge.

    So yess a little less moralising is in order here.

    Btw, I hope Jordan Pickford gets a retrospective ban for that awful challenge on Van Dyke in the Mersey derby. Worst offecne i have seen committed by a goalie since Schumacher on Battsiton in the 1982 World Cup (I was there!).


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    1. Barry - the guy was wrong and if it was my daughter I would probably be calling for him to be kneecapped! If he was my son I would be wanting the best boots for him approach. This is why we should desist from viewing things through the family lens.
      And victims must always have a view but not a veto. This is why I think it important that women's groups and others express their perspective on it.
      But even when somebody does wrong as Mr Donnelly clearly did, how far should society go in punishing them? It seems wholly unreasonable to have a one size fits all punishment template.

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  2. Donnelly's crime of sharing child porn was serious enough for a judge to consider it warranted a custodial sentence. The offence was linked to soccer because the victim was a fan who was wearing the club shirt. I don't think his conviction should make him unemployable. I don't think anybody's crime should make them unemployable but I do think he shouldn't be involved in professional soccer again.

    Bringing him back into the top flight normalises sex crime. After he plead guilty many on a Cliftonville facebook fan page posted supporting messages under a tribute video. There were no dissenting voices. Again, this just normalises sexual offending and not only treats the victim poorly but creates an atmosphere and culture where more victims are likely to be made. If it's socially acceptable to distribute sexual images of a child in a bullying way and against her wishes (not that you can consent to such a thing) people won't be afraid to do likewise. Where's the stigma?

    It seems we worship sexual offenders and wife beaters if they're good enough at the beautiful game..

    I reiterate every ex-prisoner deserves a second chance. In some cases that chance should be limited if it has wider consequence. Donnelly brought soccer and Cliftonville's name into disrepute primarily because of the situation of the offending video. Either he brings a stigma as a returning sex offender when he abused his position as a role model in this way or he doesn't.

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    1. Simon - while I wasn't that focused on it, I remember thinking at the time had he not have been a footballer he might have got something less than a custodial sentence. I think his status as a role model (and the responsibility that should go with it) might have made the difference. With or without a custodial sentence it was a serious offence.

      I don't believe his return to soccer normalises sex crime any more than the return to soccer post prison by bigger names like Tony Adams or Jan Molby normalised drunk driving. The same argument can be made in response to any offence. Former republican or loyalist prisoners who played Irish League soccer might have had the same charge levelled at them - that it normalised "terrorism." I don't believe it did.

      I think what it does do is to normalise a foil against excessive punishment. And there does seem to be a thirst for excess - in the case of the Belfast Rugby players, they were unanimously found not guilty yet there remained a desire in some quarters for them to be banned for life. This brings me back to my Nietzsche point.

      Nor should it ever be socially acceptable to support the sharing of those images. The behavior of those Cliftonville fans who made a tribute after he pleaded guilty is the issue to be focused on. I think a better way of combatting that is for his current club to have him to use his status as a player to push back against that type of sentiment.

      The stigma is massive. We don't need excessive punishment to reinforce it. Can we ever think of him and blot out his behavior towards that girl? For all their achievements I can still recall Molby and Adams doing jail time. Were he currently not playing soccer he would have receded in public consciousness.

      I don't think there is a worship of sex offenders and wife beaters because they are good players. This type of discussion has been run before over the Arthur Koestler rape of Jill Craigie - about the lengths to which we might disentangle two serious traits.

      I can never be sure to have called it right because these things by their nature are contentious and often are not discussed in the cold light of day.

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    2. "I don't think there is a worship of sex offenders and wife beaters because they are good players" Undoubtedly his level of skill had an impact in some quarters. The tribute video for example, forgiven as he entered prison. If he was a below average player would he have been welcomed back to soccer or would the club have decided to get another less than average player, one that doesn't bring stigma to the club? They would have have to balance the value versus loss he brought to.the club. A less able player would simply have been replaced if they had been a high profile sex offender.

      Saying that, maybe they're worshipped despite their crimes which again is a problem, in that it creates a society where such things are normalised.

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    3. worshipped despite their crimes might be a more apt description. I recall Tyson being returned to fame after his rape conviction and felt then it was a money grab. Then again, there is the question how much this actually normalises the crime or acts as a foil against excessive punishment. I always see the puritan in the excessive punishment lobby although I know you don't come at it from that angle.
      I would not be dogmatic or definitive in my view on it. And there is a lot of egg to go around a face were he to do the same again.

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  3. I would agree with Simon's take on this one. He should be allowed to work but not where he is put back into a position of influence or authority over the same vulnerable age group that he used his position to abuse in the first place. He may have changed, or not, but restoring him as a talented footballer is like allowing the Paras to do crowd control in Derry because the Paras have changed. And why should talented footballers be restored whereas no politician, teacher or doctor would ever be restored back into the same position that played a part in the same grizzly offence. Those cases are not influenced by the number of tickets sold at the gate.

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    1. Christy - the Para analogy is useful insofar as it as it invites a discussion of punishment fitting crime. To treat him as the Paras should be treated would allow for no graded system of punishment which is necessary for punishment to be effective rather than induce e mentality that better to hang for a sheep than a lamb. As for politicians - we had a case not so many years ago where a leading politician covered up for the rapist of his niece. Didn't effect his career in the slightest. There is never going to be a consensus on how these things are dealt with and I am always interested in the perspective of people like you and Simon. My attitude would be the same regardless of the team.

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  4. What if Jay Donnelly was a doctor, nurse, social worker..youth club leader...I seriously doubt he would be allowed to take the same position....

    I am all for ex prisoners getting a second, third or forth chance, he could have learned a new skill set, train to be a brickie, plumber, butcher, computer programmer...Something out of the public eye..

    Anthony, would you buy your daughter a Jay Donnelly Glens footy top?

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  5. Frankie - each case on its merits. The gravity of the offence weighed against the potential for doing something useful and the likelihood of reoffending. I wouldn't buy her one but I wouldn't buy her a Glens top anyway. If she wanted to buy one herself it would be her decision.
    I am not convinced hiding people out of the public eye is a productive approach. I don't believe my own public exposure has legitimised the used of political violence. Some will disagree.

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  6. Anthony I take on board what you said, when I first heard about jay signing for the Glens I said on a morning thought it was an own goal, after taking to a good friend in east Belfast he thinks the same as well has his friends who like you are Glens fans...

    Time will tell if it was the right decision...Guess we will have to agree to disagree..

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    1. Frankie - some Glens fans opposed it as they are entitled to. They were more admirable in that sense than the Cliftonville fans who organised a tribute.
      Time will tell if he reoffends - outside of that the views will be polarised.

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