THE Republic of Ireland soccer team will wear blackarm bands during its match with Italy at next month’s EURO championship to commemorate one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.
In what is thought to be the first time it has ever happened the Football Association of Ireland has confirmed that its players will wear black arm bands during its game with Italy on June 18 to commemorate the anniversary of a loyalist gun attack on Loughinisland in June 1994 which left six men dead.
The game will fall exactly 18 years to the day since the atrocity, which took place when UVF gunmen opened fire on patrons at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland as they watched Ireland play Italy during the 1994 World Cup in America.
UEFA granted permission for Irish players to commemorate the atrocity after the FAI approached the governing body on behalf of the families of the bereaved.
Welcoming the announcement, FAI chief executive John Delaney said:
“What happened in Loughinisland in 1994 was an awful tragedy and deeply moving for all football fans.
“I would like to thank UEFA for assisting us in commemorating this atrocity and take the opportunity to remember all those who lost their lives in the troubles.”
Acknowledging the Irish team’s gesture, Loughinisland families’ solicitor Niall Murphy said:
“The families are touched that this tragic event can be commemorated on such a poignant day, the eighteenth anniversary of the atrocity.
“We would like to thank the FAI and UEFA for their assistance in providing a forum to recall the awful events that took place on that fateful day when Ireland played Italy in 1994.”