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An Australian journalist has apologized for his article on Katie Taylor’s role in the Olympic Games. Irish readers found the article headlined, “Punch drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards boxing gold,” offensive.
The Fairfax journalist, Peter Hanlon, began his article by saying, “Great Britain suffered a rare defeat on Monday, when rowdy support for the game efforts of a Liverpudlian female boxer was drowned out by a gathering of delirious, flag-waving Irish singing Fields Of Athenry. For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow.”
The article appeared in the Age, and its sister publications the Sydney Morning Herald and on the Brisbane Times websites.
The article was later changed to read, “For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent some of the Irish (we’re not talking about all of them) off their heads.”
In the original article, Hanlon praised Ireland’s boxer Katie Taylor. He said “Dark-haired, deep-eyed and engaging, Taylor is not what you’d expect in a fighting Irishwoman, nor is she surrounded by people who’d prefer a punch to a potato.”
Noel White, Ireland’s ambassador to Australia, wrote to the newspapers in protest at what he called the “references to intoxication”.
Fairfax Media said the article had been changed and wrote, “Fairfax Media apologizes if any offence was caused by this article.”
In a letter to the Irish Echo, the Australian newspaper, Hanlon said he had received “a considerable amount of feedback” on the article.
He said, “I am deeply sorry…I can only apologize and say that I abhor racism. The references in the story’s introduction, and further down to Katie’s closest supporters, were poorly chosen; I wish I had my time over."
Hanlon added, “Perhaps we’re all guilty of indulging racial stereotypes at times, and this has been a stern reminder that it’s not good enough. I’ll learn from it. Again, I apologize for any hurt I’ve caused.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday morning Twitter was abuzz with irate Irish Katie Taylor fans as the Daily Telegraph claimed the Bray, County Wicklow Olympic boxer as one of their own.
The British newspaper said "Can anyone beat Britain’s Katie Taylor, the most technically proficient attacking boxer in the world?”
Irish comedian Dara O’Briain tweeted "Oh, come on! Daily Telegraph" while RTE presenter Ella McSweeney tweeted "Team GB losing the run of itself.”