Conlan apology for ‘up the Ra’ song welcome

Belfast boxer Michael Conlon.  Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Belfast boxer Michael Conlon. Picture: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
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Boxer Michael Conlan will be “judged on his actions” rather than words, but his apology over a pro-IRA ring walk song is to be welcomed, a DUP councillor has said.

The Belfast featherweight was widely criticised after entering the ring in New York on St Patrick’s Day to the Wolfe Tones’ Celtic Symphony – which includes the lyrics ‘Ooh ahh up the Ra’.

As the music blared over loudspeakers a large section of the crowd joined in the chanting.

Conlan went on to win his bout with Ruben Garcia Hernandez on points to stretch is professional career to 11 unbeaten fights.

Afterwards, north Belfast councillor and former city Lord Mayor Brian Kingston branded the music choice “disgraceful”.

He tweeted: “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.”

The 27-year-old has now apologised, telling the BBC that he “misjudged the reaction”.

Conlan said: “To the people I offended I definitely apologise.

“I wasn’t listening to what anyone was singing – I was focused on my opponent and doing my job.

“It was a misjudgment by me and we’ll not be using the music again.

“I’ve learned that I’m a role model, I’m under the microscope and things like this are not good for boxing.”

Speaking to the News Letter today, councillor Kingston welcomed the apology.

“I welcome that he has apologised for the ring walk music that he used... and that he said it had worked against him being supported right across the community as other boxers have been.

“I think he has learned a lesson. It was a poor choice and he’s recognised the offence he has caused to victims of IRA terrorism.

“I hope we will have not repetition of this and that he has recognised that playing music with chants of ‘up the IRA’ is totally in appropriate. We will judge him on his future conduct.”

Conlan is due fight in Falls Park on August 3 as part of the Feile an Phobail.

“This is the 31st year for Féile and it’s always a fantastic event.

“For me to be a part of a community event like this – I’m honoured. I really am proud of this,” he said.

“I go to Féile events every year and I’m a big fan of it, so to be one of the headline acts at Féile is amazing.”