The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive, John Delaney, has apologised after singing a pro-Republican song on a night out in Dublin,
The apology came just hours after denying that footage of the incident posted on YouTube was him.
Delaney was filmed singing Joe McDonnell by the Wolfe Tones, a song about an IRA member who died in the 1981 hunger strike at the Maze prison.
Delaney sang it on the same night the Roy Hodgson apologised to the media about the anti-IRA songs sung by England fans during the friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park.
A senior partner at Debello Law (FAI’s lawyers) told the Guardian on Monday: “My client’s position is simply that it is not him singing in the video. If you take the decision to publish legal proceedings will follow as it will undoubtedly cause various issues for my client.”
However, by Tuesday morning, Delaney had issued an apology, although he was critical of the “sly” way the film was recorded.
He told 2FM radio: “Joe McDonnell was a song that [was] sang in my presence and I chipped in with on a number of occasions in the past. I’m not someone who supports violence at all. In fact over a large number of years I have been working closely with cross-border initiatives in football to break down barriers.
“I’m not a violent person. My grandfather fought in the civil war and he also fought in the war of independence. I have always said I have a nationalist background. When you sing a song like that you don’t believe in every word that is in the song.
“I sing a large number of songs and it’s normally done in a private way when there is a sing-song. It’s a typically Irish thing we do, we sing songs amongst a group and you expect that to be kept within the group.
“Unfortunately on occasions people use camera phones in a sly way when they are not in your company and then they try to make something bigger out of it. If the song offends anyone of course I’m sorry, it’s not in my nature to want to offend people.”