Irish fan with disability refused entry to Euro 2016 fanzone over flag
A dedicated Ireland fan who has travelled to France to support the Boys in Green has been told he cannot enter the fanzone in Bordeaux because of the flags he has on his wheelchair.
Jamie Monaghan (17) from Togher, Co Louth, has been supporting the Irish side his entire life. He and his family fulfilled a lifetime ambition this month when they travelled to France to see the team at Euro 2016 after they got tickets to all three games from FAI chief executive John Delaney.
The group travelled from Paris to Bordeaux ahead of today's clash with Belgium and made a beeline for the fanzone in the city centre.
But when Jamie tried to enter with his parents Philip and Annette and his sister Aoife (19) they were refused because of flags on Jamie's wheelchair.
"It is maddening," said Philip. "They said we will have to take the flags off of the wheelchair because the poles could be used as a deadly weapon. He has had his chair decorated in the Irish colours coming out here.
"We got covers for the wheels and got the whole squad to sign them before the friendly against Holland before they came out here too. He is delighted with it."
Annette said the security staff at the fanzone would not hold the flags for them until they came out so instead they watched matches elsewhere in the city.
Security has been tightened at Euro 2016 after violence involving English and Russian supporters and the terrorist killing of policeman Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his wife at their home.
Fans entering the fanzone now face more stringent checks with any laptops or items that could be used as weapons confiscated or destroyed. Those with tickets for the games face three checkpoints on the way into stadiums.
All sides competing at the tournament have also had security stepped up.