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ABC Council launches investigation as employee linked to sick Michaela video

"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."

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council has confirmed it has launched an “internal investigation” after a member of staff was allegedly linked to a video of a song mocking the murder of Michaela McAreavey.

Two men – Andrew McDade and John Bell – have since apologised to the family of the 27-year-old, who died on honeymoon in Mauritius in 2011, for their “vile chant”.

The video, which has been widely condemned, appears to show a number of people singing along and laughing as the song is being sung.

John McAreavey, who discovered Michaela in their hotel room, has responded to the shocking footage via twitter.

“Michaela was a vessel of love, courage and dignity. Hate can hurt, but never win,” he tweeted.

Mr McAreavey has campaigned relentlessly for justice for his late wife, who is the daughter of former Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte.

The video shows an Orange lodge banner during the brief clip and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland has promised that disciplinary action will be taken against anyone found to have been involved.

The Norman Emerson Group has disassociated itself from the actions of one of its employees.

Linfield FC has sacked a volunteer coach for his role, and Portadown FC has since removed an advertising board associated with one of those allegedly involved.

The club, in a statement, confirmed last night (Friday): “The individual in question holds no official position within Portadown Football Club.

“They did however have a pitch side advertising board, which has now been removed.

“Portadown Football Club is totally opposed to sectarianism, bigotry, racism, prejudice and any form of discriminatory behaviour.”

Now ABC Council has also released a statement today (Saturday) after it emerged one of its employees may have been involved.

It said: “Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council 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.

“As an equal opportunities employer, such behaviour does not represent the values of our organisation.

“We serve all members of the community with respect and dignity, and utterly condemn this type of defamatory and sectarian behaviour.

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

“An updated statement will be released in due course.”

The two linked to the video, in their own apology, had said: “We offer our sincerest and deepest apology to the Harte and McAreavey families, and indeed to wider society for our actions which whilst fuelled by alcohol, can neither be mitigated or excused in any shape or form.

“Our apology is unequivocal, and our acceptance of wrongdoing is absolute.

“This behaviour is unreflective of the values of the Loyal Orders and the wider unionist and loyalist community.”

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