Belfast boxer Michael Conlan apologises for pro-IRA entrance song
Belfast boxer Michael Conlan has apologised for walking out for a fight to a pro-IRA song.
On St Patrick's Day in New York's Madison Square Garden, the 27-year-old made his way to the ring to face Ruben Garcia Hernandez to The Wolfe Tones song Celtic Symphony, which contains the lyric "ooh ah up the RA".
The song choice was widely condemned by politicians and victims of IRA violence for "glorifying terrorism". There were also calls for the Belfast fighter to be suspended.
DUP leader Arlene Foster referred to IRA murder victim Gillian Johnston (21), who was gunned down outside her parent's home in Leggs near Belleek on March 18, 1988.
"Those chanting 'ooh ah up the Ra' should take a moment and read about what IRA done on this day 31 years ago," she wrote on Twitter.
"Not actions worthy of glory. All terrorism was wrong and should be condemned - not glorified."
Finn Balor supporting Michael Conlan pic.twitter.com/DbdtQ5lUv2— Fightful Wrestling (@FightfulWrestle) March 18, 2019
Michael Conlan has now apologised to those offended by the song choice.
"It was a misjudgement by me and we'll not be using the music again. I've learned that I'm a role model, I'm under the microscope and things like this are not good for boxing," he told the BBC.
"I meant no offence at all. To the people who were offended - I definitely apologise.
"Boxing is a sport that brings people together. I always want to be part of that and going forward I will be a part of that completely."
While many criticised the Belfast featherweight's entrance music, others jumped to his defence, including his promoter Bob Arum.
"Mick certainly didn't want to offend anybody with the tune he used for his ringwalk in the Garden," he said.
"I know he has received criticism for what he came out to but I think people need to get over it because the Troubles are over.
"People need to move on but the songs and chants on both sides still stir the blood and the people in the arena went nuts when they heard it and I haven't seen enthusiasm like that for a long time."
Earlier this week it was announced that Michael Conlan will return to fight in Belfast in August at Feile an Phobail.
Belfast Telegraph Digital