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12th Oct 2022

Kevin Kilbane and James McClean among leading figures to speak out over rebel song controversy

Lee Costello

James McClean ireland players

“Let the people sing their stories.”

James McClean and others have defended the Ireland football team who have come under some heavy criticism following video footage of the players singing a rebel song.

Ireland had just beaten Scotland to secure their place in the World Cup, a historic victory that caused wild and deserving celebrations from the panel, the management and fans.

In typical celebratory fashion, the party was continued in the dressing room, where the players dance, hugged and sang.

However, they began to sing the rebel song Celtic Symphony, and when a clip of it emerged online, it was met with heavy criticism from aspects of the media.

Players Chloe Mustaki and Áine O’Gorman were up in front of the press, the morning after and apologised for any offence they may have caused.

“Look, we’re all really sorry here in Dublin,” Mustaki told Sky Sports News.

Ireland song

“It was obviously a massive lapse in judgement on our end, you know, lots going on when the final whistle went and we absolutely didn’t mean to cause any hurt on our end so we do really apologise for that, absolutely.”

However, some leading figures in Irish football have come to the defence of the team, including former Everton star Kevin Kilbane.

The defender tweeted a clip of the interview, and underlined his annoyance at the presenter’s choice of questioning.

Rob Wotton grilled the girls for singing the song, and then asked “Does it highlight the need for education on issues like this?”

That was the question that Kilbane took exception with, tweeting: “Very poor last question to ask re education. #knowyourhistory

Current Irish international James McClean posted on his Instagram a picture of himself with the Wolf Tones, the band who wrote Celtic Symphony, and added the following caption with it.

“Let the people sing their stories, and their songs, and the music of their native land.”

Dr Panti Bliss-Cabrera also spoke out about the incident on Twitter, and gave a much more levelled perspective on the matter.

“My own unasked for two cents: No they shouldn’t have sung it, it’s unhelpful, and disrespectful/hurtful to victims and their families.

“But neither is it supporting the IRA – young people with no memories of the Troubles unthinkingly treat the chant as an ironic post colonial jibe.”

This is no doubt a debate that will continue to rumble on, and it isn’t the first time that it has reared its head.

The Tyrone Gaelic footballers were criticised for singing a rebel song on their team bus just a couple of years ago, while the Limerick hurling team met some backlash for singing ‘Sean South’ in the dressing room previously too.

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