Rory McIlroy: Northern Ireland deserves peace
Rory McIlroy has said the people of Northern Ireland deserve a peaceful future, adding that he was sad to return home to fresh violence.
The newly crowned US Open champion said he hoped to be able to provide some positive worldwide headlines for the place he loves.
East Belfast, only a few miles from McIlroy's home in Holywood, Co Down, has been consumed by rioting over the last two nights as simmering tensions between loyalists and republicans spilled over.
The golfing sensation said his fellow countrymen and women deserve better.
"It's sad to see what's happened the last couple of nights. I know that 99.9% of the population don't want to see that.
"And if I can just be a little bit of positivity in the news then that's great.
"I think everyone just wants to live in peaceful times, and I think Northern Ireland deserves it."
In a region of numerous divisions, many played out in a sport context, McIlroy is one personality with legions of fans across communities.
He said he has a responsibility as a role model.
"I am very aware of the fact that I am going to be portrayed as a role model for a lot of young people in Northern Ireland, and probably across the world.
"And I have to be very careful in what I say and what I do, and as long as I portray the right image for other people to look up to, that's all I can really do."