Ireland is a very strange place sir betimes.

The head of the Irish soccer federation – the Football Association of Ireland – has been forced to apologize because he sang an Irish rebel song in a pub late at night.

John Delaney sang a song in a Dublin pub about hunger striker Joe McDonnell, who died in the Maze prison in 1981 in the hunger strike led by Bobby Sands.

Some nitwit videoed him signing the song and sent it to the newspapers.

They all reacted with horror and shock. 'How dare he exercise his constitutional right to sing whatever the heck he wants! A rebel song sung in a Dublin pub!'

What next? Banning thousands of people singing “The Fields of Athenry” at Irish games?

Delaney issued an abject apology instead of telling them to stick their prissy pablum up their posteriors.

He should only have apologized for attempting to sing very poorly and off key late in the night probably after a few pints but hey, we have all been there.

What next? Banning that martial monstrosity “The Soldiers Song" – AKA the Irish national anthem with its subversive talk of being “impatient for the coming fight”?

How about banning him singing the “Star Spangled Banner” with its “rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air”?

His corncrake version of “Joe McDonnell” was on every front page, along with statement by a Northern Ireland official Jim Boyce who’s a very important Vice President of world soccer organization FIFA, expressing outrage.

Hmm. I wonder if Boyce ever criticized Rangers or Linfield fans and some Rangers officials when they break into “We are the Billy Boys” ...”up to our knees in Fenian blood”?

“Joe McDonnell” wouldn’t be my favorite hunger strike song. Christy Moore’s version of “The Time Has Come to Part my Love” about the family of dying hunger striker Patsy O’Hara bidding farewell is an extraordinary and emotional song.

Singing their songs is how – for centuries – the Irish kept their spirits up. They fought long and hard for their right to sing whatever they wanted.

Back in the penal law days such expressions of nationalism were banned and poets and song makers used subterfuge in which Ireland was always referred to allegorically as in “My Dark Rosaleen do not sigh do not weep.”

Are we back to those days? Poor John Delaney. He has fallen victim to a vigilante from the rebel song police, who apparently lurk in pubs in Ireland waiting to record when a stirring Irish air is sung.

Why stop at hunger strike songs? “The Fields of Athenry” is plainly subversive, making heroes of rebels transported to Australia. It must be stopped from being sung at Irish football and rugby games.

(Personally I feel if they banned late night drunken renditions of “Danny Boy” with transportation to Australia as a punishment I’d quietly approve.)

If only Delaney had the good sense to tell the secret spies to “shove off shoneens” (look it up) and the newspapers too.

Have they nothing better to report?