Belfast Telegraph

Irish football chief John Delaney apologises for singing IRA hunger-strike song

By Brian Hutton

The chief executive of the Republic's football association has apologised after being recorded singing a ballad about an IRA hunger striker.

John Delaney was filmed last week singing the song Joe McDonnell in a Dublin pub after the Republic beat the USA 4-1 at the Aviva Stadium.

Written by republican balladeers the Wolfe Tones, it chronicles the 1981 hunger strikes at the Maze Prison through the eyes of west Belfast republican who died on the protest.

Football Association of Ireland chief Mr Delaney said he was filmed in a "sly way" and would never have sung the song in the Bath Pub in Sandymount if he had known he was being recorded.

"Joe McDonnell is a song that has been sang in my presence and I have chipped in and sang on a number of occasions in the past," he told RTE radio.

"I'm not somebody who supports violence at all, in fact over a large number of years I have been working very closely on cross-border initiatives in football to break down barriers."

Mr Delaney said he did not believe in every word of the song.

"There are many songs we all sing that we don't believe in every lyric on. I don't believe in many lyrics that are in that song," he added.

Joe McDonnell was the fifth hunger striker to die during the H-block protest, after joining the fast to replace his close friend Bobby Sands. He had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 1977 for firearms offences.

Mr Delaney said: "What I will say is if the song offended anybody, of course I am sorry."

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