Penning says not all NI fans were well-behaved

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The English Policing Minister Mike Penning has claimed 17 per cent of United Kingdom

football supporters arrested during the European Championships thus far have been Northern Irish: an over-representation in per capita terms.

Mr Penning made the comments after DUP MP Gregory Campbell highlighted “the impeccable behaviour we witnessed at the Euro 2016 championships of, for example, the Welsh and Northern Ireland fans.”

During a debate on football hooliganism at Westminster, Mr Campbell said: “Their behaviour was exemplary and outstanding.”

The East Londonderry MP said the vast majority of fans are decent and well behaved and that: “Those who fall short of that standard ought to be penalised very heavily indeed.”

But Mr Penning took exception to the suggestion Northern Irish fans were exempt from wrong-doing.

He pointed out that 17 per cent of UK fans arrested were from here, which is more than our share of the combined population of England, Wales and Northern Ireland: three per cent.

“I refer the hon. Member for East Londonderry (Mr Campbell) to the fact that although arrests have been predominantly of English fans, of the 65 UK supporters who have been arrested, 11 are from Northern Ireland,” said Mr Penning.

“Two have been arrested for criminal damage, two for public order offences, one for drunkenness, four for assault, one for ticket touting and one for pitch invasion.

“That is probably nowhere near representative of what actually went on, but I thought that it should be put on the record that although some English fans were really bad, there was sadly Northern Irish involvement as well,” said Mr Penning.

The Minister said that of 65 UK supporters arrested: 45 were English; 11 were Northern Irish and nine were Welsh.

“The offences by England supporters were six for assault, 14 for public order, 13 for drunkenness, nine for criminal damage, two for drugs and one for ticket touting. For Northern Ireland, the figures are two for criminal damage, two for public order, one for drunkenness, four for assault, one for ticket touting and one for pitch encroachment, which used to be called an invasion. For Wales, the number is limited to the nine that let the country down: five for drunkenness, two for assault and two for possession of a flare. How on earth did they get flares through the grounds? Flares come in large and small sizes; some are actually pyrotechnics and have explosive content and some are very small,” said Mr Penning.