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Aussie newspaper apologises for 'drunken Irish' article on Olympics

Sports writer Peter Hanlon has said he is “deeply sorry”.

Bejaysus *hic* 'tis Katie Taylor. Or something.
Bejaysus *hic* 'tis Katie Taylor. Or something.
Image: [puamelia] via Flickr

AN AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST has apologised after appearing to suggest that Irish people are habitual drunks, in an article on Katie Taylor’s Olympic performance.

Sportswriter Peter Hanlon wrote a piece on Taylor’s win yesterday for The Age newspaper, which also appeared in its sister publications the Sydney Morning Herald and the Brisbane Times.

The article was originally headlined: “Punch drunk: Ireland intoxicated as Taylor swings towards victory boxing gold”, and the Irish Echo reports that the introduction read:

For centuries, Guinness and whiskey have sent the Irish off their heads. Now all it takes is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow.

It was later changed to “Guinness and whiskey have sent some of the Irish (we’re not talking about all of them) off their heads”, and has since been altered again to:

Forget traditional stimuli; all it takes to get a land on its feet is a petite 26-year-old from Wicklow.

The original piece also contained the line “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.”

Ireland’s ambassador to Australia, Noel White, wrote to the newspapers in protest at what he called the “references to intoxication”.

The papers’ parent company Fairfax Media acknowledged that the article had been altered, and said: “Fairfax Media apologises if any offence was caused by this article.”

Peter Hanlon also apologised personally. In an email to the Irish Echo, he wrote: “I am deeply sorry. I can only apologise and say that I abhor racism.”

The controversy comes a day after an Irish man was arrested for allegedly kicking an Australian politician as he discussed alcohol-fuelled violence on camera.

Video: Irish man arrested after kicking Australian politician…while he was being filmed>

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Michael Freeman

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