Sunday 20 October 2019

Charity urges people to talk about their grief after Roy Keane sparks anger for mocking Jonathan Walters about 'crying on TV'

Ex-Ireland striker spoke of his grief in emotional interview

Roy Keane and (inset) Walters took to Twitter
Roy Keane and (inset) Walters took to Twitter
‘Insert face here’: Jon Walters posted a selfie wearing boxing gloves in response to Roy Keane’s comments
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

The Irish Hospice Foundation has urged people to be compassionate to those going through bereavement after Roy Keane mocked former striker Jon Walters for "crying" on television when talking about several tragedies that befell his family.

The Corkman this week settled a few old scores with some of the Republic of Ireland players he fell out with during his tenure as assistant manager.

But Keane, who was speaking at a Cadbury's 'Off The Ball' roadshow in Dublin on Wednesday, hit out at Walters in a very personal way.

"He talks a good game," he said. "Imagine if he'd won a trophy. He goes on the TV about how he was harshly treated by me.

"He's crying on the TV about his family situation.

"Maybe he should lie low for a while. Have a look at his medals? That wouldn't take long."

In May, Walters opened up about the tragic "triple-whammy" that hit his family last year in a highly emotional interview on 'The Late Late Show'.

The 35-year-old's Dublin-born mother, Helen, passed away from bowel cancer when the footballer was aged 11 and he has always dedicated his Ireland career in her honour.

The player's family suffered another loss last year when his older brother James passed away, and a day later his wife lost a baby. Soon after, he learned the devastating news that his daughter had scoliosis.

When asked for its reaction to Keane's comments, the Irish Hospice Foundation told the Irish Independent that it's important for people to talk about their grief when going through a personal loss.

"Bereavement and grief can have substantial impacts which can manifest in different ways, at different times and with different degrees of severity," said charity CEO Sharon Foley.

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"It's important for some people to talk about their grief and we can all learn from that.

"The Irish Hospice Foundation's mission is to ensure people in Ireland understand grief and that we, as a society, treat people experiencing loss with compassion and give them the support they need."

John Saunders, CEO of Shine, told Independent.ie that Keane’s comments could have a knock-on effect on those experiencing mental health issues.

“It is deeply worrying that someone, like Keane, who is a role model to so many young men, is reinforcing dangerous stereotypes by indicating that men showing emotion and crying is a sign of weakness,” he said. 

“This can have a knock-on effect, resulting in young men concealing their mental health difficulties, feeling shame, humiliation and avoiding seeking help. 

"Stigma is a significant problem for people who experience mental health difficulties and is recognised as a barrier to the recovery process as it prevents people from seeking help. 

“Mental health stigma manifests itself in stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination,” he said. 

Online mental health charity, Turn2Me, also stressed that it’s important to stop reinforcing negative stereotypes that men are robotic and void of emotions. 

"The saying that ‘boys don’t cry’ which is often instilled in children and is carried forward into adulthood, has such a negative impact on the mental health and well-being on men," said Clinical Manager of Turn2Me, Brian Holohan. 

"It reinforces this stereotype that crying or showing any emotion other than anger is not acceptable. 

"Worldwide research has shown how this type to suppression of male emotions can lead to stigmatizing mental health, which results in men being less inclined to seek support,” he said. 

After Keane's comments about the football star went viral, Walters posted a selfie of himself in the gym on Twitter standing in front of a punching bag with a photo-edited cross over it under the caption "insert face here".

This prompted many of his followers to add images of the Corkman's face to the bag.

Others hit out at Keane for making the "highly inappropriate" comments.

"Roy Keane was a great footballer. What he said about Jon Walters is further proof that he's far from a great man," one person tweeted.

Another said: "Sneering at someone being upset over losing his mother as a kid? Don't think your profession dictates reaction to that."

One Twitter user added: "Usually a big fan of Keane, but it was a horrible thing to say, really overstepped the line especially at an event that was raising money for Aware?"

During the 'Off The Ball' roadshow, Keane spoke about his departure from Ireland by hitting back at Walters, Harry Arter and Stephen Ward for their part in the fraught period that preceded his exit.

The assistant rowed with Arter and Walters over the amount of training they were doing leading up to a summer international window.

Ward recorded a WhatsApp audio message, describing the argument, that went public several months later and brought matters to a head.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this interview, please contact: Shine - www.shine.ie; Turn2Me – www.turn2me.org; or The Irish Hospice Foundation – www.bereaved.ie.

Irish Independent

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