OUTSPOKEN Irish boxer Paddy Barnes is set for a day out in Buckingham Palace to receive an MBE from the queen.
Barnes has won bronze twice in the Olympics while representing Ireland and won Gold this year for Northern Ireland in the Commonwealth games.
He said he was pleased to be named on the honours list for his contribution to boxing and his community work.
“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,” he said.
“This recognition also acknowledges my success in the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and 2014 in India and Scotland respectively.”
Barnes’s focus is firmly on the next Olympics. “I look forward to the challenges that 2015 will offer as I make plans to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.
Barnes acknowledged his fans, his home community, coaches, friends and family, “who have supported my career from the first frustrating youth defeats to medal success on Olympic and Commonwealth stages”.
He sparked controversy at the Glasgow games when he objected to Danny Boy playing as he collected his medal. He was spotted telling organisers “that’s not my anthem”.
Barnes is used to collecting his medal to the sound of Amhran Na bhFiann.
He later explained that he simply meant it wasn’t Northern Ireland’s anthem as it didn’t have one, and he called for a Northern Irish flag and anthem to be chosen.
His remarks created a stir online but Barnes defended himself claiming that he didn’t care about religious differences.