Sunday 25 February 2018

Trouble in Poznan: Three Irish among 14 held after clashes

THE BOYS IN GREEN: The Republic of Ireland team, back row, from left, Glenn Whelan, John O'Shea, Stephen Ward, Richard Dunne, Sean St Ledger and Kevin Doyle. Front row, from left, Aiden McGeady, Keith Andrews, Shay Given, Robbie Keane and Damien Duff. The hopes and dreams of a nation will be focused on Poznan tonight when Ireland take on Croatia at 7.45pm.

Ed Carty, Press Association in Poznan

THREE Irish fans have been arrested in Poznan after pre-match celebrations got out of hand in the old market square.

The trio were detained around the same time as 10 Polish and one Croat man were detained after violence broke out in the Stary Rynek part of town. It is understood the Irish men were with a large group of people from other countries when bottles, glasses and a lamp were smashed in a bar. Dozens of riot police were dispatched to the square to restore order at around 3am today after fighting broke out among a small number of fans.

The Mayor of Poznan attempted to play down the incident. "This is an isolated incident. This kind of incident is not unusual with a gathering of this size and the fans' behaviour has normally been excellent," he said.

The three Irish men were detained on suspicion of public order offences, vandalism and damage to property. Elsewhere in the square as wider trouble broke out, flares were set off and chairs and tables overturned. It is understood that some of the Polish men detained were followers of the Lech Poznan football team.

Fans on the scene at the time reported that the trouble lasted about half an hour while officials said that the disturbances lasted only several minutes. There were at least 20,000 Irish people in Poznan last night. The mayor said that on the first day of the tournament, about 47,000 people attended the fanzones in the city and no arrests were made. Several fans were removed from the square on the opening night of Euro2012 as a small number of Polish fans clashed.

Staff from the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs stationed in Poznan have been notified that the three Irish men had been detained. Consular officials were told no charges have been brought but investigations are continuing.

Elsewhere, two Irish fans were detained off a flight into the city on Friday after staff on the plane reported them for disorderly and abusive behaviour.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said that most of the consular work over the last week has been dealing with lost or stolen wallets or travel documents and problems people had with either unopened or unfinished campsites .

Earlier today it emerged that up to 100 Irish soccer fans were left without accommodation in Poznan when a campsite they had paid for refused the entry. They had booked with Hotelioni and paid up to €2,400 each using Hotelioni said it was making alternative arrangements for the fans.

President Michael D Higgins, who arrived in Poznan for the game, called on the Ireland team to do what is necessary in Euro 2012 as they open their championship bid against Croatia.

Mobbed by a 20-strong crowd from west Belfast outside the squad's hotel in Poznan, the President said he was hopeful of good results.

"I think we're going to do well. We're very hopeful. I think much depends on how the game starts in the first 15 minutes, to see the style of the game, the pattern," he said.

"I imagine there will be some changes. I sent a message to wish the team well and also to the fans."

The President, a lifelong Galway United supporter and the club president, was presented with an Ireland jersey by manager Giovanni Trapattoni ahead of the game in the Miejski stadium.

After shaking hands with the fans from Belfast and others in the foyer of the Sheraton Hotel Mr Higgins said: "That's a great bunch of lads out there.

"I wish the team every success and as I said before play strong and do what's necessary."

The President opted not to take the Government jet to Poland and flew into Poznan on a commercial flight this morning alongside several hundred Irish fans who sang most of the way.

One of the fans who met the President, Michael Hughes from Ladybrook in Belfast also met Trapattoni at the hotel.

"I saw Marco Tardelli first and then I saw Trap and I went up and said 'I love you'," he said.

"I asked him for a picture and he came up and I kissed him on the cheek.

"The whole team were around, and we hear Richard Dunne actually moved the entire hotel five yards to the left when he was lifting weights."

President Higgins is in Poznan for one night and will meet local dignitaries tomorrow before returning to Ireland.

Later, Taoiseach Enda Kenny lent his support.

"It has been a long hard road to get this far and the commitment, dedication and skill shown by everyone involved has been excellent," he said.

"The fans are already making a huge and positive impact in Poland, while here at home the sense of excitement and pride is wonderful. Everybody is right behind the Boys in Green and we know they will give it their everything. I wish them every success."

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