Commentator slated after claiming Irish should compete for Britain at London Olympics

ESPN's Russell Barwick (left)

An ESPN commentator has been slated for suggesting Ireland should have teamed up with Britain to win Olympic gold.

Australian based commentator Russell Barwick provoked an angry response by calling Ireland a ‘joke’ for not joining Britain’s Olympic team.

Barwick hosts the irreverent ‘Pardon The Interruption’, one of the biggest shows on Australian television.

He claimed that Ireland not flying the flag for Britain was comparable to Tasmanian athletes not performing for Australia.

He then said Irish athletes chasing gold for their country was similar to a Hawaiian surfer claiming he wasn’t from the United States.

“It’s a whole Irish joke, the whole thing. It just makes no sense,” said Barwick.

“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.

“I understand the history of Irish politics. Well. . . I don’t understand the history of Irish politics.”

The Irish Independent reports that Barwick then told his baffled British co-presenter that half of Ireland was ‘part’ of Great Britain.

He added: “The Irish managed to forget about their national identity when it comes to the British Lions in rugby.

“Team GB has an enormous advantage over basically every other country in the world because it’s four countries all wrapped up into one.

“What about the British Lions tour? They all kiss and make up for a British Lions and they kiss and make up for Six Nations.”

Barwick was met with a deluge of angry responses on Twitter from Irish people living in Australia and was forced to issue an apology.

He said: “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!!”

His apology comes 24 hours after the Daily Telegraph newspaper apologised for calling Katie Taylor British.

The Australian newspaper group Fairfax Media also apologised after one of its journalists claimed the Irish nation got drunk on the back of Taylor’s Olympic success.