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Orange Order vows to expel men who put ‘abhorrent’ Michaela video online

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Michaela McAreavey on her wedding day in 2011

Michaela McAreavey on her wedding day in 2011

Louth manager Mickey Harte, Michaela McAreavey's father, before the GAA match against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Louth manager Mickey Harte, Michaela McAreavey's father, before the GAA match against Cork at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Andrew McDade and John Bell

Andrew McDade and John Bell

MICHAELA ON WEDDING DAY

MICHAELA ON WEDDING DAY

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Michaela McAreavey on her wedding day in 2011

Two men who were involved in an “utterly abhorrent” sectarian video that mocked the murder of Michaela McAreavey are expected to be expelled from the Orange Order, the Sunday Independent understands.

An internal probe has already begun into John Bell and Andrew McDade, in which they face a charge of bringing the institution into disrepute, a senior Orange Order source said yesterday.

In the video, men believed to be attending a Northern Ireland centenary celebration laughed, clapped, cheered and banged tables strewn with beer cans as others sang the offensive song about the 27-year-old’s murder while she was on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011.

The PSNI is expected to decide soon if a crime has been committed under the electronic communications act by posting the video online.

A person is guilty of an offence if he or she “by means of public communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive”.

If investigators determine a crime has been committed, those involved and those who organised the event would probably be questioned by officers.

Yesterday, Mrs McAreavey’s father, Mickey Harte, was in Cork, managing the Louth footballers in their defeat by the Rebel County. He did not address the controversy during the post-match press conference at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Officials within the Orange Order are spending the jubilee weekend trying to identify all of the individuals featured in the video, which emerged on social media on Thursday.

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If those responsible are identified as being members, they will face disciplinary proceedings, with a senior source confirming expulsion would be the “obvious outcome”.

A spokesperson for the Orange Order called the video “utterly abhorrent”.

On Friday, Bell and McDade — who posted the footage on Facebook Live — offered an apology for their actions as a matter of “deep shame and regret”. They said yesterday they have received death threats.

The video, filmed in a hall decorated with Orange Order banners and union flag bunting, was met with disgust throughout Northern Ireland, the Republic and elsewhere.

Mrs McAreavey was attacked when she returned to her hotel room alone and disturbed a burglary.

Reacting on social media on Friday night, Mr McAreavey stated “hate can hurt, but never win” in response.

“Michaela was a vessel of love, courage and dignity. Hate can hurt, but never win,” the former Down GAA star said.

No one has been convicted of Mrs McAreavey’s murder.

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council yesterday said it has been made aware of “disturbing social media content allegedly involving a council employee”.

“While we acknowledge that the behaviour undertaken was carried out in a private capacity, beyond the control of the council, we wish to reassure the public that we are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness and have launched an internal investigation,” a spokesperson said.

“We would like to express our sincere sympathy to the McAreavey and Harte families at this distressing time.”

Craigavon-based sand and gravel firm Norman Emerson Group also issued a statement to say it was aware of “highly offensive social media content” made by one of its employees. It said a “full and thorough internal investigation” was under way.

Linfield FC said a volunteer coach of the girls’ academy who was allegedly involved in the video had had his contract terminated with immediate effect. The club described the video as “offensive, sickening and deeply hurtful” and apologised to the Harte and McAreavey families.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill said “hate and sectarianism have no place in our society” while DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson called the video “vile”.

Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long said she has raised the video with PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne, calling it “depraved”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the footage was “beyond comprehension”.

“I think it speaks to a sectarianism and the degree of malice and hate in society that needs to be dealt with,” he said.


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