Anger at ‘Up the IRA’ song as Michael Conlan enters boxing ring
Unionists have reacted with anger to ‘shocking’ reports that Belfast boxer Michael Conlan entered the ring in New York at the weekend to a song containing “up the RA” in the lyrics.
Critics have noted that the crowd was singing along to offensive lines in the song as he entered the ring to beat Mexico’s Ruben Garcia Hernandez.
Belfast Alderman Brian Kingston Belfast of the DUP said: “Very disappointing that Michael Conlan does not follow the lead of many previous boxing and sporting heroes so that people can support him across the divide. Disgraceful that he has no regard for the victims of IRA terrorism.”
East Antrim UUP MLA John Stewart was also angered.
He said: “The sport of boxing has done so much to break down barriers, cross the divide and unite people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland. It’s deeply regrettable that Michael Conlan doesn’t respect or understand this.
“It’s time someone told him that walking out to ‘Oh Ahh Up the RA’ is dragging him and the sport into the gutter. Sad.”
UUP councillor Robert Foster, from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, added: “The Sport of boxing does so much to unite both communities which was evident in the Workies last month with cross community boxing on display and what a night it was. Shocking sectarian antics like this from Conlon do so much harm were so much good has gone before.”
Loyalist activist and blogger Jamie Bryson was also offended.
“Michael Conlan enters his sporting event to ‘oh ah up the RA’- reference of course to the IRA, a proscribed terrorist organisation. Could you imagine the sheer outrage if a unionist sportsperson walked out to Daddy’s Uniform or No 1 Platoon? Why the disparity?” he asked.
Conlan made it 11 wins from 10 professional fights by beating his opponent.
The Northern Ireland boxer, 27, was given a 100-90 verdict by all three judges in the 10-rounder.
Conlan was a London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and 2015 World Championship gold medallist.