Kellie Harrington accuses presenter of trying to ‘hang me out to dry’ in debate over tweet
“I feel like you’ve brought that to try and bring up a bit of controversy,” she said.
Olympic boxing champion Kellie Harrington sparred with a radio journalist today over a controversial tweet she posted and subsequently deleted last autumn about immigrants.
In a heated discussion with Shane Hannon, co-presenter of Newstalk’s OTB the boxer accused him of ‘hanging her out to dry’ and being like ‘a dog with a bone’ with a hidden agenda, when he refused to back down in his line of questioning.
Noting that she was appearing on the podcast as a brand ambassador for the convenience chain Spar, he prefaced the question by noting that “given all the diversity in the north inner city,” and her status as a role model, he said: “I know you’ve had a number of interactions on social media and on Twitter that have suggested you have strongly-held views on immigration.”
" Are those opinions you still feel strongly about?” he asked in reference to a tweet she subsequently deleted on her Twitter account last October after she retweeted a video from GB News in 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.
“I woke up this morning to see the news of another young European girl who was sacrificed on the altar of mass migration. We have four people in custody, all migrants coming from Algeria,” Ms Vlaardingerbroek said. “This is the 12th girl I believe in France that has been killed this year by an immigrant and that’s just France.”
In response, Ms 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.
During today’s interview, Ms Harrington initially replied that she “switched off” after he mentioned the word diversity in her local area, as there is diversity all over the country, when addressing the question.
Mr Hannon continued: “I know you had a couple of interactions on social media on Twitter in October where you were talking about anti-immigration and there was a quote tweet from a GB News tweet where there were links between violence and immigration and migrants. And I know on social media, I guess in your position as a role model those comments carry weight,” he said.
“So I’m just wondering if you still have the same held views on immigration?” he asked, to which she responded: “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.’
Mr Hannon, however, stuck to his guns.
“The discussion, Kellie, just needs to be had,” to which she said: “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.”
Responding that it’s ‘not my style’ to court controversy, he said: “I genuinely just feel that if anyone posts anything on social media or in an interview, those are beliefs that are strong held and thought out.”
Ms Harrington responded that the tweet dated back to last October before her public relations handler interrupted the interview to say there was only five minutes left.
“I totally understand it’s a question you have to ask and everything but it’s probably best to move on from it.”
However Mr Hannon responded: “Is it not right that we have the discussion, Kellie, is my point?”
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Ms Harrington then said “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?
Mr Hannon responded: “Why is it time-wasting? As I said from the outset that you’re an ambassador to young people and people and there are some views that people would see as controversial when it comes to immigrants.”
He added that it’s personal view that Ireland should embrace immigrants who have much to offer but she attempted to shut down the line of questioning.
"I'm not having that argument with you. I’m not even open to the discussion with you,” she said before the handler interrupted the interview again and asked him to move on, noting that Ms Harrington’s appearance on the podcast was part of a ‘media event’ for Spar.
Mr Hannon responded: “The Spar slogan I read out from the start is to back local communities and to drive change and impact, so is it not a fair question?”
Clearly frustrated at this stage, Ms Harrington said: “You’re like a dog with a bone,” to which Mr Hannon responded that his intention was not to hang her out to dry.
“The question was just to bring up a discussion on people having views on social media and backing them up,” he said.
She replied: “Here we go, right. 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.”
Undeterred, 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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