Bitter online exchange leads to boxing challenge

Two prominent Twitter protagonists from either side of Northern Ireland’s political divide have suggested settling an online spat with a real world showdown.

By Mark Rainey
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 2:27 pm

What began as a bitter social media exchange on Wednesday morning, between west Belfast film-maker Sean Murray and loyalist Jamie Bryson, eventually led to an invitation for the two public figures to settle their differences in the boxing ring.

The row was sparked when Mr Bryson tweeted his objection to a GAA pitch being “imposed” upon residents living in the Victoria Park area of east Belfast.

He said: “The vast majority of the local community do not want the toxic GAA imposed within unionist areas”.

Jamie Bryson (left) and Sean Murray

Mr Murray branded those concerns “sectarian” and called on the media to help “stamp this poison out for good”.

That resulted in Mr Bryson posing questions to his rival about a number of GAA clubs that pay tribute to IRA members – as well as recirculating a photograph of Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill unveiling a monument honouring three IRA members at the Clonoe O’Rahilly’s GAA club in Coalisland earlier this year.

Mr Murray was also invited to clearly state the nature of any “allegations” he wished to make about Mr Bryson’s activities rather than “hinting” at something.

In response, Mr Murray tweeted: “Charity boxing match? Money goes to the GAA if I win and the money goes to whatever circus you see fit? You can’t knock that Jamie.”

Mr Bryson said: “I’m up for that. Neutral venue. Put a proposal together & email me it.”

He went on to say: “Now for the last time Sean, email me your proposal for the boxing match *you* proposed. It will be accepted”.

It is not yet clear if the pair will continue to spar online, or arrange to slug it out inside the ropes as suggested.

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Bryson said: “Sean publicly threw the challenge down. I have no problem getting into a ring with him. I will happily go to west Belfast and the boxing match can take place there.

“He has started this so he should put his money where his mouth is and get it organised. I don’t know what his reluctance would be, he’s about twice my size and weight so I am not sure why he would back off from his challenge.”