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Carl Frampton accuses US delegate Richard Neal of ‘stoking the fire’ in Northern Ireland


Carl Frampton. Credit: Liam McBurney

Carl Frampton. Credit: Liam McBurney

Carl Frampton. Credit: Liam McBurney

Former world champion Carl Frampton has apologised for an offensive word used in a tweet he posted about US congressman Richard Neal on Wednesday, stating that the Democrat “boils his blood”.

The retired Belfast boxer initially wrote: “Another Yank, coming to another part of the world to stoke the fire. Well done Ritchie Neal. D******d.”

An hour later, the Tigers Bay native posted: “I used a word I shouldn't have in my last tweet. Sorry for any offence caused. But it boils my blood that a guy who is supposed to help sort out the issues here actually does the opposite with the language he uses.”

It’s likely the BT Sports pundit is referring to the “planter” comments Mr Neal made in Londonderry on the same day –  in reference to unionist heritage and ancestry – while speaking to RTE about the Good Friday Agreement.

The term was used as a name for English-speaking Protestants that came to Ireland in the 1600s during the Plantation of Ulster, and is considered by many to be used as a sectarian slur. 

However, Mr Neal maintained he was using the word in historical context. 

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“I also referenced the historical term of the gael, the gael and the planter, because those are entirely accurate historic references,” he commented.

Mr Frampton went on to note that “politics and politicians here can be divisive”, but further criticised the idea of an American coming to Northern Ireland to “help raise tensions”. 

Leader of the Ulster Unionists Doug Beattie also criticised Mr Neal’s phrasing, stating that “his comments which refer to people as ‘planters’ are derogatory to many unionists. His thinking and terminology are of a time past”. 

Writing in  The Express on Wednesday, ex-DUP leader Arlene Foster claimed that “meddling Americans are the real threat to peace in Northern Ireland”.

Of Mr Neal she said: “In his one of his latest offerings, Neal boasted about the changing demographics in Northern Ireland, in that there will soon, in terms of religious denominations, be more Roman Catholics than declared church going Protestants.

“According to Neal’s thinking that means that a United Ireland is inevitable because more Roman Catholics means more people who want to abolish Northern Ireland.”

Mrs Foster called this “base sectarianism” which was factually incorrect.

Since 2019, Richie Neal has been the powerful Chairman of the Ways and Means committee in Congress, second only to Speaker Pelosi in seniority, but that doesn’t prevent him from showing his partiality.

He has also come under criticism for claiming that issues relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol appear to be "manufactured” and that trade problems around it "could be ironed out quickly".

Mr Neal is leading an eight-member US delegation to both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this week, as the EU and UK remain at at impasse over the implementation of the 2019 post-Brexit deal which many unionists and loyalists oppose. 

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