ROSS MCCARTHUR and Dean Shiels’ father have hit out at the “totally and utterly unacceptable” throwing of fake eyeballs towards the Pars midfielder by Falkirk fans on Tuesday.

The Northern Ireland international was the subject of abuse and discriminatory chants throughout Dunfermline’s 2-0 win and the taunts about his disability have been slammed by both McArthur and his dad Kenny, who has called for those involved to be punished heavily.

The Athletic chairman said: “I spoke to the Falkirk chairwoman, Margaret Lang, after the game and we agreed to work together to try and identify the people responsible.

“We’ll look through CCTV images, there were stewards with body cameras and a police spotter too so we’ll see what can be done.

“She has assured me that if we can identify them, they will take very hard action against the individuals responsible.

“No-one can condone behaviour like that. It was totally and utterly unacceptable and has no place in any football ground – and I would say the same no matter who the supporters were.”

He continued: “I also spoke to Dean after the game and said the way he has handled himself throughout this is a credit to the club and his family. He got on with the game and didn’t let it affect him. I feel really sorry for Dean.

“He has a young family with another baby on the way and these fans don’t realise, when they behave like this, that people are getting hurt.

“There’s just no place for this behaviour.”

The New Year clash at East End Park was the first meeting between the sides since Falkirk’s Kevin O’Hara and Joe McKee were banned by the SFA for taunting Shiels about the loss of his eye during an Irn-Bru Cup tie on October 7.

The midfielder had his right eye removed in 2006. The eye had deteriorated following an accident when he was a child.

For excessive misconduct, O’Hara and McKee received eight and four-match bans respectively and although neither was available for Tuesday’s match, there was a poisonous atmosphere in the away end.

A spokesperson for the SPFL, who are responsible for incidents involving the crowd, said they would await the match delegate’s report before considering any action.

A statement issued by Falkirk after the match read: “Falkirk FC apologises unreservedly to Dean Shiels and Dunfermline Athletic FC for the abhorrent behaviour of a small number of individuals at this afternoon’s Ladbrokes Championship match.

“The club wholeheartedly condemns the abuse witnessed towards Dean Shiels in the strongest terms and will be working closely with Dunfermline Athletic FC to identify those responsible.

“We will look to take action against anyone identified from today’s game and will not allow this disgraceful behaviour to be repeated.”

But the player’s father, who is manager of League of Ireland Derry City, said the authorities need to “make an example” of those involved.

Speaking to the Herald, he said: “I had a lot of good times in Scotland and I love the people in Scotland, but this reflects on the people of Scotland, and it reflects on the people of Falkirk.

“Everybody should be ashamed of it, including the Falkirk chairman, who I think has mis-handled the whole thing.

“When Dean was up at the tribunal – the second hearing – for the Joe McKee affair, she was the lawyer.

“She grilled Dean, and I thought was almost worse than anything.

“Even when the two boys had been punished, she didn’t come out and say that Falkirk as a club took responsibility for this and that we apologise. She is doing it now but she should have come out and apologised on behalf of the club to Dean at that time. I was really disappointed in her.”

Shiels senior, who had a spell working with the Forth Valley Academy, added: “Kevin O’Hara I can forgive because he is a young lad and were all young and foolish in our time.

“(But) the authorities need to punish someone heavily for this kind of thing, make an example of them, because rapping people over the knuckles clearly isn’t working.

“Going to shops to buy eyeballs, it is all so premeditated.

“Falkirk should have control of that, they should be controlling their own supporters. And there are more than just a few of these supporters. Apparently they were up in Inverness earlier in the season singing songs about Dean, a guy who plays for another club entirely. What does that tell you? It is hatred, pure and simple.”

“It has been horrible to watch.”

Fraser Wishart, chief executive of PFA Scotland, commented: “We condemn the treatment of Dean Shiels by a small minority of Falkirk supporters.

“We find it extremely difficult to understand the mindset of these individuals and are sure that the vast majority of Falkirk supporters will be appalled at this behaviour and the good name of their club being tarnished in this way.

“Nobody, however, should have to endure such abuse at their place of work, football pitch or otherwise, and it is beyond our comprehension that anyone would think such behaviour acceptable.

“We commend Falkirk Football Club for their speedy apology and hope they will follow through on their promise of appropriate action being taken against the individuals responsible.

“Two of our members received lengthy bans for making discriminatory comments towards Dean last year so it seems only fair that those involved in this incident similarly face some form of punishment.”

McArthur added: “To be fair, we’ve had Falkirk fans writing to the club asking us to pass on their apologies to Dean.

“They themselves said it was totally unacceptable. It shows there are decent Falkirk fans and those responsible for what happened yesterday are a very small minority.”

Pars boss Allan Johnston said: “It’s unacceptable. Dean has had a lot to deal with but I think the whole club has. We’ve dealt with it professionally and we’ve just got to move on.

“It’s poor, you never like to hear stuff like that, but I thought Dean, and the team, showed great discipline.”

Team-mates also showed their support for Shiels, with Sean Murdoch tweeting: “This guy is one of the nicest guys you could meet in football…had better career than anyone can dream of and was outstanding yesterday.”

Declan McManus added: “Delighted to score my 50th career goal – all dedicated to a great guy, stronger than many mentally I’ve met.”