Sunday 21 April 2019

'Get over it...Troubles are over' - Michael Conlan's promoter says 'up the Ra' ringwalk not meant to cause offence

Michael Conlan ahead of his featherweight bout against Ruben Garcia Hernandez
Michael Conlan ahead of his featherweight bout against Ruben Garcia Hernandez

David Kelly and Brett Campbell

Promoter Bob Arum has come to the defence of Michael Conlan following the criticism he received over his ringwalk last weekend in Madison Square Garden.

Conlan marched to the ring to face Ruben Garcia Hernandez on St Patrick's night with the tune Celtic Symphony, which contains the lyric 'ooh ah up the RA' playing in the background, which led to outrage at home but not Stateside, according to Arum.

The world's leading promoter, who signed Conlan on the back of his glittering amateur career insisted the featherweight was not looking to cause offence.

"Mick certainly didn't want to offend anybody with the tune he used for his ringwalk in the Garden," said Arum.

"I know he has received criticism for what he came out to but I think people need to get over it because the Troubles are over. People need to move on but the songs and chants on both sides still stir the blood and the people in the arena went nuts when they heard it and I haven't seen enthusiasm like that for a long time. But I'm an American, so maybe my view doesn't count.

"I understand it can be a sensitive issue but it was not done to cause offence and here in the States everyone is just commenting on what a great atmosphere it was and what a great production."

The song choice had caused anger with DUP leader Arlene Foster urging fans who chanted the pro-IRA slogan to educate themselves and stop glorifying terror.

Mrs Foster referred to IRA murder victim Gillian Johnston (21), who was gunned down outside her parent's home in Leggs near Belleek on March 18, 1988.

"Those chanting 'ooh ah up the Ra' should take a moment and read about what IRA done on this day 31 years ago," she wrote on Twitter.

"Not actions worthy of glory. All terrorism was wrong and should be condemned - not glorified."

Former Lord Mayor and DUP councillor Brian Kingston said it is "disgraceful" that the boxer "has no regard for the victims" of IRA terrorism.

"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," he added.

Many others flocked to social media to express disgust.

"Thought you were a decent lad," one ex-fan wrote on his Facebook page. "But after that, glorifying the IRA on your walkout, the whole boxing world should be ashamed of you."

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