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Kellie Harrington hits back after tense spat with presenter over tweet about immigrants

“I do not want to engage in politically sensitive matters.”

Kellie Harrington© SPORTSFILE

Neasa Cumiskey and Allison BraySunday World

Kellie Harrington has issued a statement following her spat with a radio journalist over a controversial tweet about immigrants she posted and subsequently deleted last year.

The Olympic boxing champion had been speaking to Shane Hannon on Newstalk’s OTB on Monday when she accused the presenter of “hanging her out to dry” after he refused to move on from the topic of her tweet referencing a 12-year-old girl in France who was “killed by an immigrant”.

The awkward interview saw Hannon press Harrington on the tweet and the subjects of immigration and diversity, with Harrington asking, “Is that what you want to waste time on?” before her PR representative jumped in and encouraged the conversation to move on.

Taking to social media on Monday night, Kellie shared a statement addressing the OTB interview, where she said she doesn’t want to “engage in politically sensitive matters”.

She wrote: “Last October, I reposted a tweet of a video from a journalist (whom I did not know at the time) detailing the story of a young girl in France who was kidnapped and murdered.

“Moved by the horrific circumstances of this story, I reposted a video of this journalist together with a copy of a quote. My thoughts at that moment were of that young girl and not any political opinion.

“Having realised the significance of my tweet and the hurt caused to a number of people I immediately deleted the tweet. I engaged privately with a number of people who were hurt by my tweet and I apologised to them.

“As a sporting role model, I am aware that I need to be mindful of what I do and say. I reacted with my emotion and without the facts. How this came across is not reflective of me as a person or my thoughts”.

The sportswoman continued: “I did an interview today during which I was caught off guard. I was not prepared for a question unrelated to sport and my response to the question asked was not definitive.

“I do not want to engage in politically sensitive matters.

“What I want to make clear is, throughout my life both in boxing and outside boxing, I have been lucky enough to have had many multicultural influences and this continues to shape me to this day.

“This is something I am very grateful for. The people closest to me will attest to this.

“Since the interview, I have seen some comments that I feel I should address and make my feelings and thoughts clear.

“As a sportswomen (sic) I am proud to say I am all about community, inclusion and diversity”.

Hannon and Harrington butted heads on the podcast after he asked her if she still maintained “strongly held views on immigration”, referencing the tweet she subsequently deleted last October after she reposted a GB News videoin which Dutch commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek spoke about the killing of a 12-year-old French girl whose mutilated body was found stuffed in a suitcase in Paris.

In response to the clip, which claimed that the young girl was “sacrificed on the altar of mass migration”, Harrington tweeted: “Very, very sad. A powerful message from Eva Vlaardingerbroek. Our own leaders need to take a listen to this. She believes this is the 12th girl in France this year who has been killed by an immigrant.. And that’s just France.”

The tweet was deleted a short time later.

Responding to Hannon’s question, Harrington said: “So I feel right now at the moment that you are trying to hang me out to dry so for that I’ll say ‘next question.’

Hannon, however, stuck to his guns and said, “The discussion, Kellie, just needs to be had,” to which she replied: “That was a post in October so I do feel like you are trying to hang me out to dry. You know me by now and you know you’re going to get the truth off me and that’s exactly the truth as it is as I’m sitting here now. I feel like you’ve brought that to try and bring up a bit of controversy.”

The debate continued, with Hannon continuing to probe and Harrington responding: “Is that what you want to waste time on? There are so many other questions that you could ask me. I’m not a politician, you know what I mean?”

The Dubliner, clearly frustrated, also said Hannon was “like a dog with a bone” after she and her public relations handler shut down the discussion once again.

“If you’re not hanging me out to dry, let it go, move on. Be like Elsa and just let it go, do you know what I mean? Don’t hold it back anymore, just let it go and move on.”

Mr Hannon said it was his job to ask questions, but the boxer refused to be drawn.

“I’m not here to answer those questions. I’m not here to talk about politics, like if I wanted to do that I’d go and get a degree in politics, she said, adding “I don’t know what agenda you have Shane, It’s obviously not a good one.”

She ended the interview with a farewell salute, stating: “Over and out. I’m done.”

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