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Paddy Power's political rugby ad heavily criticised

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Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson with the Paddy Power advert

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson with the Paddy Power advert

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson with the Paddy Power advert

An Irish betting firm's attempt at humour backfired spectacularly at the weekend.

In the run-up to Saturday's Ireland v England Six Nations rugby match, bookies Paddy Power - known for their edgy marketing - placed an ad in Irish newspapers which read: "Dear England. Sorry for the last two years of pain, suffering and humiliation. Another 798 and we'll be even."

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson even tweeted a picture of herself brandishing the full page newspaper ad, saying: "I bet yeh Paddy's right."

But the provocative message from the bookies, while popular in some quarters, did not go down well everywhere.

Among the printable responses was one from English man Paul Fanning, whose parents are Irish. Relying to the MEP, he said: "The rugby is pretty much the only time I identify with Ireland, as dad and I have watched them together for 30+ years.

"I watched it with dad yesterday. For the first time ever we supported England against Ireland. Ireland is losing friends."

Belfast man Alex Magill posted: "Uncalled for. There's no place for politics in sport. It's this sort of attitude that's reducing the whole Brexit and UI (united Ireland) campaigns to nothing but a circus."

Darren Butler from Oxford wrote: "Dear Ireland, thanks for the easy start in the 6nations today... the humiliation was all yours."

Other social media users vowed they would be boycotting Paddy Power in future.

The Brexit-related newspaper ad was just one example of the betting firm trolling English fans heading to Dublin for the big weekend match.

They also put up billboards in Dublin with teasing slogans, including "welcome to the biggest English-speaking city in the EU* (after March 29)". Another showed a row of Ireland players with the caption: "Try putting a tariff on this Irish beef."

But the banter had to stop when the English rugby team stormed to a 12-point victory in Dublin's Aviva stadium.

"Anyone know a company that can take down a few large billboards in Dublin ASAP?" Paddy Power tweeted.

Belfast Telegraph