Republic star Shane Duffy faces storm over pro-IRA tweet sent from phone
A Northern Ireland-born footballer has become the target of vile abuse after a pro-IRA message was posted on his Twitter page.
Shane Duffy denies making the remarks, which appeared online during the early hours of Monday morning before being quickly deleted.
The 21-year-old defender, who opted to play for the Republic of Ireland, apologised to his 48,000 followers for the tweet, claiming it had been sent by someone who had taken his phone.
Duffy, who plays for Premier League club Everton, said he had received "so much hate" over the incident.
Many of the messages sent to him via the micro-blogging site are too graphic to be published.
In response to the abuse, Duffy posted a message saying "mostly all Rangers and Northern Ireland fans" were to blame, urging them to "give it a rest".
However, one replied: "It is nothing to do with football fans, it's about you supporting terrorists."
Duffy is originally from Co Londonderry and played for Northern Ireland at under-16, 17, 19, and 21 level.
But he opted to switch to the Republic and has captained their under-21 team.
The row erupted after a message appeared on Duffy's Twitter account at 1.40am on Monday. He appeared to reply to and retweet a message from a fan saying "Up the Ra!", after uploading a photograph of a pint of Guinness to celebrate St Patrick's Day.
The messages came hours after memorial services were held to mark the 20th anniversary of the IRA's Warrington bombing.
However, Duffy insisted that someone took his phone and retweeted the message without his knowledge.
He posted a series of updates apologising for the message.
One read: "Sorry everyone some little paddy had my phone last night tweets weren't me.. sorry if it offended anyone!! cant leave ur (sic) phone anywhere now!!"
He followed that by saying: "Wow so much hate on something I didn't do.. Fair enough gotta take it because its my twitter. And again It was not me who tweeted and retweeted loads last night! Really am sorry if it offended anyone.. Sorry guys!
In a third message, Duffy said: "Can't do much more ino (sic) it's offended a lot of people getting alot of hate for something I didn't do. For too much to lose for tweeting something like that. The retweets and tweets was not me. Got to accept the hate. Really am sorry for this mess! Sorry guys!"
An Everton FC spokesman said: "Shane was on an evening out when his phone was taken by someone, who then retweeted an offensive remark, for which Shane has this morning publicly apologised for."
Last month another Derry-born footballer, James McClean, was forced off Twitter.
McClean had tweeted that The Broad Black Brimmer – a song about a boy whose father is killed fighting for the IRA – was his favourite song.
Other footballers who have fallen foul of Twitter
The Derry-born footballer closed his account after controversy over a tweet in which he said his favourite song was an Irish rebel anthem.
His club, Sunderland, said McClean voluntarily withdrew from Twitter amid a storm over the remarks about Wolfe Tones song The Broad Black Brimmer, about a boy whose father is killed while fighting for the IRA in the Irish War of Independence.
Last May he temporarily quit the site after receiving death threats over comments he posted about his call-up to the Republic's Euro 2012 squad.
The Liverpool defender launched an outspoken attack on Paul Merson after the Sky TV pundit criticised his attitude. It came after Merson raised concerns about Johnston's performances in a discussion about the departure of manager Roy Hodgson.
Johnston chose to respond via Twitter, launching a personal attack on Merson, who battled drink and drug problems while at Arsenal.
"Comments from alcoholic drug abusers are not really gonna upset me and who is Paul Merson to judge players, he was average at the best of times," Johnson wrote.
"The only reason he's on that show is coz he gambled all his money away. The clown!"
The former Newcastle and QPR player also has a lengthy history of Twitter controversies.
In January Barton apologised over a bitter online row with Dietmar Hamann during which he abused the ex-German international with a string of insults and allegations.
Last month he also went on a rant against Neymar after the Brazilian star claimed he had never heard of him.
Barton accused Neymar of being "perverse", adding that the £50m rated star was "massively overrated" and plays in an "Amazon jungle league".
Leon Knight became the first Irish League player to be suspended for comments made on Twitter.
It related to tweets posted by Knight following his Coleraine side's League Cup semi-final win over Cliftonville in December 2011.
The player declared that he wouldn't make any more comments "for a good while".
But in May he caused more outrage after posting comments about homosexuality.
Responding to news that US President Barack Obama had declared his support for same sex marriage, Knight tweeted: "Each to their own but I don't know how a man can be gay."
Scotland international Griffith allegedly sent a racist message on Twitter to a user called Zak Iqbal, telling him: "Go back to your own country."
The 22-year-old admitted it was wrong and immediately placed his Tweets behind security, so that only his 13,000 followers can read them.
In February it emerged that Griffith had been arrested and charged under the Communication Act over the message.