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Dublin: 13°C Wednesday 21 October 2020
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Glentoran defend signing of convicted sex offender Jay Donnelly

The striker served a three-month prison sentence last year for distributing an indecent image of a child.

Footballer Jay Donnelly outside Laganside Court in Belfast.
Footballer Jay Donnelly outside Laganside Court in Belfast.

IRISH LEAGUE CLUB Glentoran has announced the signing of Jay Donnelly, a 25-year-old striker, who served a three-month prison sentence last year for distributing an indecent image of a child.

In a lengthy statement to accompany the announcement of Donnelly’s arrival, the club said it was “fully aware of the issues in Jay’s past”.

For his part, Donnelly expressed “complete remorse and regret at the actions that led to my conviction in 2019″.

Donnelly was sacked by his former club, Cliftonville, and was also charged by the Irish FA for bringing the game into disrepute.

He has since been playing non-league football with Belfast Celtic. 

The Glentoran statement read:  “Glentoran Football club believes that everyone deserves a chance to put mistakes behind them and Jay Donnelly is no different.

“The club acknowledges that he has both paid and atoned for his past mistakes and deserves the opportunity to rebuild his life and football career.”

Donnelly added: “I wish to express my complete remorse and regret at the actions that led to my conviction in 2019.

“Age and immaturity are not an excuse for an action that I now realise to have been very hurtful and damaging to the woman and her family.

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“I have had several years now to reflect on my actions, and I can guarantee everyone both in football and society that I have learned from my mistake and it is something I would never consider repeating.

“I have agreed with Mick (McDermott, the Glentoran manager) to undertake counselling and guidance on appropriate behaviour while I am on loan to Belfast Celtic and I guarantee everyone involved with the club that Glentoran will have no reason to doubt my good intentions and my determination to behave in a responsible and considerate manner.”

In response, the Belfast Feminist Network criticised Glentoran’s statement.

“Despite the language used in the statement, we cannot forget that Jay Donnelly shared a private image of a minor without her consent. This is a crime, regardless of the number of people he shared it with or whether they were his friends, and the sexual act being consensual,” the organisation said in an interview with today’s Belfast Telegraph.

“We are disappointed that Jay will be undoubtedly held up as a role model when he is anything but, and we are disappointed that even in the midst of trying to acknowledge the hurt caused by Donnelly’s crime Glentoran has chosen to use language that plays down and makes excuses for his behaviour and attempts to shift blame on to others.”

Originally published at 12.54

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