Northern Ireland news

Thousands raised for families of Northern Ireland fans who died in France

Jim Spratt from Belfast after accepting the Medal of the City of Paris on behalf of Northern Ireland fans for their sportsmanship during Euro 2016. Picture by Alex Britton, Press Association
Gareth McKeown

A Northern Ireland football fan has helped raise £4,000 for the families of two supporters who lost their lives during the European Championships in France.

It is the latest act of kindness shown by fans of Northern Ireland and the Republic, who were both recognised with the Medal of the City of Paris in a ceremony yesterday.

Ballymena man Darren Rodgers (24) died on June 13 when he toppled 26ft over a barrier from a promenade in Nice, while Robert ‘Archie’ Rainey from Belfast suffered a suspected heart attack during the Northern Ireland v Ukraine match in Lyon on June 16.

A collection fund was set up following the tragedies, with all proceeds split equally between the Rodgers and Rainey families.

Belfast fan George King said he felt compelled to take action and began collecting donations while out in France, in the cities where Northern Ireland played their games.

Mr King started in Lyon following the death of Mr Rainey and the fundraising continued in Paris, the host city for the Northern Ireland v Germany group match.

The final game was the second round clash with Wales in Paris, but as Mr King had returned home he conducted the collection at the Northern Ireland Fanzone at Titanic, Belfast.

"I can't thank people enough for there donations the generosity and kind words of support - it has completely blown me away," Mr King said.

From serenading women to helping lost children, Irish football fans at the European Championships made a huge impression with their behaviour and good humour.

Earlier, the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo presented the Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland fans with the Medal of the City of Paris as a mark of gratitude for their exemplary behaviour in the city during Euro 2016.

Representatives from the Amalgamation of Official Northern Ireland Supporters’ Clubs and the Irish Football Association received the medal on behalf of Northern Ireland supporters prior to last night's European Championships semi-final between France and Germany.

Republic of Ireland supporter Jamie Monaghan (17) from Togher, Co Louth was selected to accept the medal on behalf of his team's fans at the special reception in Paris.

He was joined for the presentation by chairman of the Confederation of Republic of Ireland Supporters Clubs, Joe McKenna.

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