Paddy Barnes rolls with punches after accepting MBE

Paddy Barnes has received both criticism and support for his decision
Paddy Barnes has received both criticism and support for his decision

Amid a wave of supportive comments – including from fellow Northern Ireland-based boxers – Paddy Barnes also faced criticism for his acceptance of an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

Mr Barnes, who competes for Ireland at Olympic level, announced late on Tuesday night that he had been offered the award.

While many congratulated him, others expressed disappointment at his decision to accept it, venting their views on the website Twitter.

One user called @SRussell1998 wrote that it was “absolutely shocking that he accepted it”.

A particularly vocal critic, who posted a number of times on the subject, was @Irish_Gael, who wrote: “What a let down. Seriously, you aren’t entitled to assert you accept a British Empire honour on behalf of the Irish community”.

Coming to his defence was Michael Conlan, another Belfast boxer and Irish Olympian, who wrote: “The fact he accepted doesn’t make him any less Irish, its almost 2015 ppl need to get wit the times!”

Meanwhile @CiaraCurran3 wrote: “My goodness sad to see there’s still bitterness out there good lad Paddy you’re doing the right thing!”

Mr Barnes had issued a statement at the time which read: “I am a proud Irish sportsman, a proud sportsman from Belfast, and I take great pride in representing everyone in Ireland, north and south, in whatever way I can.

“If my achievements in boxing can inspire others and people can be united through sport, then my efforts will have been worthwhile.”

Among those also offering their thoughts was Carl Frampton, world super bantamweight champion from loyalist Tiger’s Bay.

He wrote: “Not sure if I’m happy or jealous. Have a word with her majesty on my behalf Pat”.