The Irish Independent reports that a "top" Australian sports pundit has sparked outrage by calling Ireland a joke for not teaming up with Britain in the Olympics.
Commentator Russell Barwick provoked an incredulous reaction when he compared Ireland not flying the flag for Britain to Tasmanian athletes not performing for Australia. The ESPN star fronts the hugely popular and irreverent 'Pardon the Interruption' show. He went on to say Irish athletes going for gold for their country was similar to a Hawaiian surfer claiming he wasn't from the United States.
He said: "It's a whole Irish joke, the whole thing. It just makes no sense. "We, the rest of the world, can't understand. It's like a Hawaiian surfer not claiming that he surfs for the USA. "It's not like Tasmanians say they don't want to represent Australia. You're all part of the one mix master." He said: "I understand the history of Irish politics. Well. . . I don't understand the history of Irish politics." He then told his baffled British co-presenter that half of Ireland was part of Great Britain.
Bariwck's comments caused a storm of outrage on Twitter, prompting an apology. "Ok a million apologies to those I offended. . . My initial question was 'Why does Ireland compete together in rugby but not at Olympics?' “ I found out myself and sorry again for offence as none was intended ? God I hope Katie Taylor wins!!”
But the commentator got such a stream of objections from Irish people that he blocked his Twitter account yesterday evening.
Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph has aplogises for calling Katie Taylor British. After a storm on Twitter the newspaper tweeted: “We’re sorry for mistakenly describing the fantastic boxer Katie Taylor as British in our London 2012 section today. She is Irish, of course.”