FAI chief John Delaney's apology for singing Irish Republican song

John Delaney
John Delaney has been FAI chief executive since November 2004

Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney has apologised after being caught on camera singing an Irish Republican song in a Dublin bar.

Delaney was videoed giving a rendition of a song about Belfast man Joe McDonnell who was one of the IRA hunger strikers who died in 1981.

"If the song offends anyone of course I'm sorry," Delaney told RTE.

"When you sing a song like that, you don't believe in every word that is in the song."

Delaney sang the song in a Dublin bar after the Republic of Ireland's 4-1 win over USA last Tuesday and a video was later posted on YouTube.

The song was written by Irish folk band the Wolfe Tones as a tribute to IRA member McDonnell who died in 1981 after being on hunger strike for 61 days.

McDonnell had been imprisoned in 1977 following a bomb attack on a shop the previous year.

Lyrics from Ballad of Joe McDonnell which John Delaney was filmed singing
Who died unselfishly
And Patsy O'Hara, and the next in line in me
And those who lie behind me
May your courage be the same
And I pray to God my life was not in vain

Speaking to Ryan Tubridy on RTE's 2FM on Tuesday morning, the FAI chief said that the video had been recorded in a "sly way" but insisted that he did not agree with the song's lyrics.

The lyrics which Delaney was filmed singing included a reference to another hunger striker Patsy O'Hara who also died during the 1981 jail protest.

"Joe McDonnell is a song that has been sung in my presence and I chipped in on a number of occasions in the past," added the 47-year-old Waterford native.

"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."

Delaney added that he was part of a group that was singing in the bar and that the song had not been intended for public consumption.

"It's a typically Irish thing we do, we sing songs amongst a group and you expect that to be kept within the group.

"Sean South from Garryowen has been sung on the Irish team bus for years, from the Jack Charlton era right up to the current era."

"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."

Delaney sang the Republican ballad on the same night that some England supporters directed anti-IRA chants towards Scottish fans at the international game at Glasgow's Celtic Park.

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