Irish boxer Kellie Harrington has issued a statement after receiving backlash for failing to answer questions about a now-deleted social media post that featured anti-immigration rhetoric. In an interview with Off The Ball on Monday, March 27, Shane Hannon quizzed the LGBTQ+ sports star about the tweets from last October, also asking her to clarify her current stance on the issue.
Harrington responded to the journalist, saying: “I feel, right now at the moment, that you’re trying to hang me out to dry. So, for that, I’ll say, ‘Next question’.”
The Olympic champion refused to answer any further queries on the matter, with a third party also interrupting the conversation to say, “We’re here today for Spar and their media event,” as Harrington was acting as an ambassador for the company. With Hannon explaining that he was just doing his job, the boxer advised him to “Let it go”.
Concluding the interview, Harrington commented: “I don’t know what agenda you have, Shane, but it’s certainly not a good one. Over and out, I’m done.”
Kellie Harrington discussed her deleted tweet on immigration on #OTBAM. pic.twitter.com/cerleODJNa
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) March 27, 2023
The Dubliner’s refusal to answer questions on immigration ignited a wave of criticism online, with Harrington posting a statement in response late last night.
“I did an interview today during which I was caught off guard. I was not prepared for a question unrelated to sport and my response to the question asked was not definitive,” she said.
“What I want to make clear is, throughout my life both in boxing & outside boxing, I have been lucky enough to have had many multicultural influences and this continues to shape me to this day…I have seen some comments that I feel I should address and make my feelings and thoughts clear. As a sportswomen I am proud to say I am all about community, inclusion and diversity,” she added.
The boxer also commented on the deleted post, which was a quote tweet of a news report from a British outlet. In it, Political Commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek spoke about a 12-year-old in France who had been reportedly murdered, claiming that young girls were being “sacrificed on the altar of mass migration”.
Kellie shared this video alongside the caption: “Very very Sad. A powerful message from Eva Vlaardingerbroak. Our own leaders need to take a listen to this. She believes this is the 12th girl in France this year who has been killed by an immigrant…and that’s just France.”
Addressing this in Monday’s statement, Harrington said: “My thoughts in that moment were of that young girl and not any political opinion.
“Having realised the significance of my tweet and the hurt caused to a number of people I immediately deleted the tweet. I engaged privately with a number of people who were hurt by my tweet and I apologised to them.
“As a sporting role model, I am aware that I need to be mindful of what I do and say. I reacted with my emotions and without the facts. How this came across is not reflective of me as a person or my thoughts,” she added.
A statement following my interview earlier with OTB pic.twitter.com/FGuO3w7Wwe
— Kellie Harrington (@Kelly64kg) March 27, 2023
This controversy surrounding the athlete comes at a time when anti-immigration rhetoric in Ireland is escalating, with many far-right groups holding hate-fueled demonstrations targeting refugee communities across the country.
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