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party gaffe Declan Kelly drunken antics 'blown out of proportion' says Riverdance chief John McColgan


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Riverdance creator John McColgan

Riverdance creator John McColgan

Riverdance creator John McColgan

RIVERDANCE co-founder John McColgan has defended businessman Declan Kelly, who stepped down from the board of US charity Global Citizen over drunken behaviour at a fundraising concert.

Mr McColgan, who has known Mr Kelly for 30 years and worked with Global Citizen in the past, describes the allegations against him as "completely out of character".

Mr Kelly was drunk, stumbling and "messy" at a high-profile fundraising concert in the US, it is understood.

Sources close to the Teneo chief executive and chairman said he was "out of order" and is now committed to sobriety.

The millionaire PR mogul is stepping back from some of his responsibilities after the drunken behaviour at the Global Citizen gig on May 2.

The event was chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Jennifer Lopez was among the acts.

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Declan Kelly is stepping back from some of his responsibilities

Declan Kelly is stepping back from some of his responsibilities

Declan Kelly is stepping back from some of his responsibilities

On Thursday, a spokesperson for Mr Kelly acknowledged that he "became inebriated and behaved inappropriately towards some women and men at the event".

"He deeply regrets his actions and has personally apologised to the individuals he offended," the spokesperson said.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Mr McColgan said he was shocked but feels it has been "blown out of proportion".

"I wasn't there, but I know Declan for 30 years and he is a very good friend. All I can say is it was completely out of character.

"Obviously drink was taken and people behave out of character when drink is taken.

"It shocks me because he is so normally appropriate and aware of things."

Other friends of the businessman said there was confusion about what he was actually being accused of.

Without excusing his drunken behaviour, they said there was a "chasm" of information which meant people were drawing their own conclusions.

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"There's no doubt it is being treated very seriously, and his actions deemed inappropriate," one source said.

"Any element of that behaviour has to stop, and he has committed to that.

"He's put his hands up, admitted to his wrongdoing and is addressing what caused this. He's paying a big price and is not flinching that."

Mr Kelly, the brother of Labour Party leader Alan Kelly, is known to be a family man and has never been accused of any inappropriate behaviour in the past.

Details remain scant on what transpired at the cocktail party after the event, which also featured Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder and J Balvin.

Sources say there is an acceptance by Mr Kelly, and across the business, that his actions would have been inappropriate at any event.

But in the world of global philanthropy, his drunkenness was "completely out of place".

"He was a big player in a charity that has a high ambition to tackling world poverty. He was very proud of his work there, but he's paid a big price now for being so out of line," an observer said.

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