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Saturday 23 August 2014

Sorry for calling Katie Taylor British after Twitter storm

Independent.ie reporters and Brendan Farrelly

Published 08/08/2012 | 11:31

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Katie Taylor

A BRITISH newspaper today apologised for calling Katie Taylor British after irate Irish fans of the boxer took to Twitter to vent their fury.

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In a preview of today’s semi final match, the Daily Telegraph asked: “Can anyone beat Britain’s Katie Taylor, the most technically proficient attacking boxer in the world?”



The gaffe was the top trend on Twitter today.



However just before 1pm the media group tweeted: “We’re sorry for mistakenly describing the fantastic boxer Katie Taylor as British in our London 2012 section today. She is Irish, of course.”



Earlier comedian Dara O Briain tweeted: “Oh, come on! Daily Telegraph” and RTE presenter Ella McSweeney said: “Team GB losing the run of itself.”



Marykate Dawson tweeted: “I’d say Katie Taylor would get sick if she knew she was being referred to as ‘British’.



Gav Hatch said: “They already try to claim Irish golfers as British. They claimed boxers in the past. Now the Daily Telegraph says Katie Taylor is British!”



And Fergus Murphy said: “Dear Daily Telegraph. Katie Taylor is IRISH. However, please feel free to claim Ronan Keating, Jedward, Louis Walsh...”



“I noticed 'British' band U2 featured in Opening too,” said another of hundreds of fans ahead of Katie’s match today in a bid to secure a place in the final.



Meanwhile, Australian newspaper group Fairfax Media was forced into an embarrassing apology after an article about Katie Taylor's triumph over Britain's Natasha Jonas in the Olympic boxing ring was branded as "lazy stereotyping" of the Irish.



The article hit the websites of 'The Age', the 'Brisbane Times' and the ' Sydney Morning Herald' yesterday, with the headline: "Punch Drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards victory boxing gold."



“For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow,” the opening paragraph said.



“Dark-haired, deep-eyed and engaging, Taylor is not what you’d expect in a fighting Irishwoman, nor is she surrounded by people who’d prefer a punch to a potato.”



The Irish Ambassador to Australia, Noel White, quickly fired off a letter of complaint to Fairfax Media which resulted in the article being amended and the headline changed.



Ambassador White wrote: "The article by Peter Hanlon in today's on-line editions of Fairfax publications is a welcome celebration of the achievements of Irish boxer Katie Taylor and a timely reflection of the pride that Irish people have taken for some time in her domination of the boxing ring.



"All the more disappointing then that the piece should lapse into lazy stereotyping. References to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media."



Peter Hanlon, the journalist who wrote the piece, told the 'Irish Echo' newspaper in Sydney that he was "deeply sorry".



"I can only apologise and say that I abhor racism. The references in the story's introduction, and further down to Katie's closest supporters, were poorly chosen; I wish I had my time over," he added.



The amended article ran with the headline: “Irish eyeing gold as Taylor swings into action”.



It carried an Editor's note of apology and ran the Amnbassador’s letter in full:



: Dear Sir



The article by Peter Hanlon in today’s on-line editions of Fairfax publications (“Punch drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards victory boxing gold”) is a welcome celebration of the achievements of Irish boxer Katie Taylor and a timely reflection of the pride that Irish people have taken for some time in her domination of the boxing ring. All the more disappointing then that the piece should lapse into lazy stereotyping. References to intoxication and to named drinks are inappropriate and beneath the standard that one expects of Fairfax Media. Irish people, much like Australians, take tremendous pride in their sporting heroes. Over the coming days, as Katie pursues her dream of Olympic glory, Irish communities at home, in Australia and around the world will be cheering her on. It is to be hoped that reporting on her performance will be free of the kind of commentary which causes unnecessary and unjustifiable upset.



Yours faithfully



Noel White



Ambassador of Ireland to Australia



Another article published in USA Today also sparked criticism.



“Back home on the emerald-green isle, pints of Guinness flowed freely, perhaps enough to replenish the Irish Sea. The "punters'' inside betting parlors wagered pounds as if they were bits of candy,” wrote the lead sports columnist for USA Today Jon Saraceno.



“It is not hyperbole to suggest that, when Taylor entered the ring, the weight of a prideful, scuffling nation rested on her muscular shoulders.”

Irish Independent

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