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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 May 2006, 09:25 GMT 10:25 UK
IFA party faces Chicago protest
Lawrie Sanchez
Lawrie Sanchez and his team are in Chicago
The Northern Ireland team and IFA representatives were the subject of a protest on a visit to the Chicago Gaelic Park club on Tuesday night.

A group of around 80 protestors lined the driveway on the entrance to the clubhouse, many waving black flags and red cards, some shouting 'IFA out'.

Others wore t-shirts emblazoned with the words 'IFA are not welcome here'.

Inside the club the visiting party were received very warmly by club president John Griffen and many club members.

Mr Griffen said he shared the IFA's theme of condemning all things sectarian and added that the Gaelic Park club was not a political organisation.

IFA vice-president Morton McKnight said the players and officials were delighted to accept the invite to Gaelic Park and went on to say it was good that football could play a role in bringing communities together.

The Northern Ireland players, who were said to be unphased by the events outside the club, signed autographs and had photos taken before leaving the premises.

IFA chief executive Howard Wells described the protestors as a "fairly small minded group of people trying to make a point".

"I gather that the officials who welcomed the party apologised and were very positive about the team and officials being there.

"We must try to get the focus of this tour back onto football as frankly, this is just another distraction."

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