John Delaney ‘sorry’ if republican song caused offence
FAI chief says singing recorded ‘in sly way’ and he does not ‘believe every lyric’
Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has said he is sorry if his rendition of the republican ballad Joe McDonnell offended anybody and that he does not support violence or believe every lyric in the song.
Mr Delaney, filmed singing the song in a Dublin pub after Ireland beat the USA 4-1 last Tuesday, said the clip had been recorded in “a sly way” and that his performance was not for the public as he was not “on X-Factor or out in the Aviva”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Tubridy programme, Mr Delaney said he was from a nationalist background and that is grandfather had fought in the Civil War and War of Independence.
“Joe McDonnell is a song that has been sang in my presence and I have chipped in and sang on a number of occasions in the past,” Mr Delaney said.
“I’m not somebody who supports violence at all, in fact over a large number of years I have been working very closely on cross-border initiatives in football to break down barriers.”
He said that “when you sing a song like that you don’t believe in every word”.
“I sing a large number of songs, maybe five or six different ones, and it is normally done in a private way when there’s a singsong… Many of us have a nationalist background but are anti-violence. We also sing songs we don’t believe in every lyric on…there are many songs we all sing that we don’t believe in every lyric on. I don’t believe in many lyrics that are in that song.”
Joe McDonnell is a song written from the perspective of an IRA member convicted of firearms offences in 1977 following a bomb attack on a furniture shop the previous year. McDonnell died on hunger strike in July 1981.
Mr Delaney said that when you sang in a group you expected it to be kept in the group but that “unfortunately on occasions people use camera phones in a sly way and they try and tape it” and “then they try to make it something bigger than it is”.
“What I will say is if the song offended anybody, of course I am sorry. That’s not in my nature to want to offend people but it was something I have sang or have sung in my presence in private in the past.”
Tubridy asked Mr Delaney if he would like to hear a clip of himself singing the song, but he replied that it would be best if he asked him about the matter instead. “I think we’ll save the Irish public that,” he said.
Tubridy said “the last thing he wanted to do” was “embarrass” Mr Delaney after he had agreed to come on air.
The incident occurred in The Bath pub on the same night that the England football manager Roy Hodgson apologised “if anyone was offended” by the singing of anti-IRA songs by England fans at Celtic Park. Both England and Scotland are due to play against Ireland in Dublin next June.