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Kellie Harrington [file photo]. Dave Winter/INPHO
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Harrington issues statement after refusing to answer questions during Off The Ball interview

The Olympic champion has issued a statement this evening.

KELLIE HARRINGTON HAS issued a statement in response to a controversial answer she gave to a question in relation to her stance on immigration during an interview with Newstalk’s Off The Ball.

Harrington said this evening that she was “not prepared for a question unrelated to sport”, and that the answer she gave was “not definitive”. She added that she is “all about community, inclusivity and diversity”.

Harrington was speaking to presenter Shane Hannon on the show as an ambassador for Spar, when she was asked to comment on a quote tweet she posted in October which related to matters surrounding immigration.

The tweet, which she subsequently deleted read:

“Very very sad. Such a powerful message from Eva Vlaardingerbroek. Our own leaders need to take a listen. She believes this is the 12th girl in France this year who has been killed by an immigrant… and that’s just France.”

Kellie Harrington tweet

Harrington was quoting a tweet from GB News which featured political commentator Eva Vlaardingerbroek claiming that young girls are being ‘sacrificed on the altar of mass immigration’.

A follow up tweet by Harrington read:

“Deleted and walked away. As someone rightly suggested, thanks. Don’t need the hate post! But my god, that poor poor soul. Absolutely heart breaking, just a wee girl, her whole life ahead of her. My god rest her little soul, gone far to young, at the hands of cruel evil people.”

Hannon asked Harrington to revisit the matter during today’s interview on OTB, asking her if she still held the views she expressed in October. Harrington initially replied that she “switched off” because Hannon had mentioned the word diversity in relation to the inner city and asked him to repeat the question.

She then said:

“So, I feel, right now at the moment, that you’re trying to hang me out to dry. So, for that, I’ll say ‘Next question’.”

Hannon attempted to continue the line of questioning, but Harrington refused to be drawn on the matter, and declined to discuss her current views on immigration. A third party could also be heard interrupting the call, asking Hannon to move on, reminding him the media interview had been arranged because she was a Spar ambassador. “We’re here today for Spar and their media event,” she is heard saying. 

Harrington then laughed off Hannon’s explanation that he was just doing his job, and referenced a song from the movie Frozen, advising Hannon to “Let it go”.

Concluding the interview, Harrington said: “I don’t know what agenda you have Shane, but it’s certainly not a good one. Over and out, I’m done.”

She has since published a statement about the incident which reads:

“Last month, 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 the tweet and I apologised to them.

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

“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 & outside boxing, I have been lucky enough to have had many multicultural influences and this continues to shape me as the person I am today and something I am very grateful for. The people closest to me will attest to this.

“Since the interview, I have seen many comments that I feel I should address and make my feelings and thoughts clear. As a sportswoman, I am proud to say I am all about community, inclusivity and diversity.”

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