Northern Ireland

Republic boss O'Neill apologises for 'crass' remark

Martin O'Neill has apologised for using the term "queers" but Ireland's only gay football team says it is "part of the problem" Image copyright Reuters / Clodagh Kilcoyne
Image caption Martin O'Neill has apologised for using the term "queers" but Ireland's only gay football team says it is "part of the problem"

The Republic of Ireland manager, Martin O'Neill, has apologised for using the word "queers".

He was speaking in Cork Opera House at a send-off event for the Republic's team last week.

The Kilrea man joked that two backroom staff accompanied him and assistant boss Roy Keane to the Super Bowl in the USA so that people would not think that he and Keane were "queers".

He apologised on Monday, describing the remark as "crass".

He added: "If I have made inappropriate comments, I obviously apologise for it.

"I will attempt for the rest of my time here not to make such inappropriate comments.

"Almost the minute I had said it, I realised that I should not have said that, absolutely. I should not have said it," he is quoted as saying.

A spokesperson for Ireland's only gay football team, the Dublin Devils, has described O'Neill's comments as "hurtful, unhelpful and disappointing" but has welcomed the apology.

Part of the problem

Club chairman John McAree said: "The club was disappointed to hear O'Neill's comments as they do nothing to help with the ongoing issue of homophobia in the world of football - in fact, his comments are part of the problem.

"This is the wrong message to send to the LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex] community a week before the Euro 2016 championships.

"O'Neill is an idol to many young gay teens all over Ireland. His comments will make them feel isolated, confused and different.

"Many young LGBTI men and women play football at local level and support Ireland at International level.

"Many club members from the Dublin Devils will be in France next week wearing the Green Jersey supporting and shouting for Ireland.

Image copyright PRESS ASSOCIATION / Brian Lawless
Image caption Martin O'Neill has admitted his remark was "crass" and said he realised he should not have said it

"Our sexuality does not define us in the club. We see ourselves as a group of gay men who love to watch, support and play football."

This latest apology follows comments O'Neill made earlier this year, joking that "uglier" wives and girlfriends will not be allowed to visit the squad during Euro 2016.

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