SHANE DUFFY’S father is fearful that reaction to inflammatory remarks on the Everton defender’s ‘Twitter’ account could spiral out of control!
SIMON COLLINS reports
The 21-year-old Galliagh lad, who has almost 50,000 followers on the social networking site, has denied posting messages in support of the IRA on St. Patrick’s Day, claiming his phone was tampered with by a friend in his company on a night out in Liverpool.
Duffy, the Republic of Ireland Under-21 skipper, appeared to re-tweet a message on Sunday evening which read “Up the Ra!” but later apologised for any offence, stating that “some little paddy had my phone last night, tweets weren’t me”.
The remarks incited a heated exchange involving several of Duffy’s followers on the social media site with the Derry man once again offering an explanation when declaring his innocence.
“Can’t do much more i no (sic) it’s offended a lot of people getting alot of hate for something I didn’t do. For too much to lose for tweeting something like that. The re-tweets and tweets was not me. Got to accept the hate. Really am sorry for this mess! Sorry guys!”
Shane’s father, Brian, yesterday said the incident had caused great distress among his family and even reduced his wife, Siobhan to tears, fearing that the remarks could damage their son’s career at Goodison Park.
“We are absolutely devastated,” said Mr. Duffy last night. “I’m fuming about it all. There’s no way Shane would write that sort of thing.
“I was on the phone to Shane at 8.10 a.m. and I couldn’t believe what I was reading,” he explained.
“Shane and his girlfriend, Catherine went out on Sunday night after his Under-21 match. They rented a cubicle in a bar among friends and he went out to dance and left his phone and one of his so-called friends lifted his phone and apparently wrote ‘Up the Ra’ on his Twitter account.
“I’m not too knowledgeable about Twitter to be honest, but Shane has almost 50,000 people following him. Even if it was up there for a second, that’s long enough for 10,000 people to see it.
“We didn’t bring him up that way,” he added. “If you look back on his Twitter, he has over 4,000 tweets on it and there’s not one political comment.
“He could be tarred with this now. Once you’re labelled with anything like this it tends to stick if you are in the public eye. The best thing we can do is let people know that, as a family, that’s not the way we think. Those are not our views.
“We can all believe and support whoever you want to support, we all have freedom of choice but to come out publicly and do something like this is certainly not the way we as a family would work.
“Shane’s not in a position to come out and make big statements like this. He’s not an established Premier League player as such. He just wouldn’t do that sort of thing and I certainly wouldn’t have it.”
Victim of Circumstance
Mr. Duffy is in no doubt that his son was a ‘victim of circumstance’ and while he vehemently denied suggestions that his son could be responsible, he accepts Shane must face repercussions for the actions of a ‘so-called friend’.
It’s not the first time a Derry footballer has courted controversy on Twitter and judging by fellow Republic of Ireland representative, Sunderland’s James McClean’s recent criticism for statements made on his Twitter account, Duffy can expect a major backlash.
“He’s going to get a backlash and we’ve seen already some of the comments and reaction it’s attracted,” added Mr Duffy. “It’s going to be a lesson learned for him. He’s off for a week because it’s international week. He meets up with the U21s on Friday so he’s coming home tomorrow (today) which is maybe a good thing for him.
“There will be a backlash, he understands that and he will probably be tarred the same way as James McClean was for comments he’s made on Twitter. But that was James’ own comments whereas this hasn’t come from Shane.
“We have never brought politics into out house. A statement like this is just not in Shane’s character and I hope people understand that it wasn’t his views and he didn’t write it. There’s just no way he would do that.
“I would like to think we’ve brought Shane up the best we can. I’m absolutely gutted and so is Shane.
“He’s very much a victim in this. I’m gutted and Siobhan went into work this morning with tears in her eyes. I got him on the phone this morning and he’s gutted. He’s afraid that Everton are going to fine him for it. He didn’t actually know about the post until later on that night when he started getting reaction from it.
“At that point there was nothing else he could do but deny it, that’s all he could do.
“He regrets that he left his phone unattended. The whole family are absolutely devastated. It just doesn’t affect Shane.
“Hopefully it will all blow over but judging by James McClean’s situation this could just be the start of it.”
Shane has been on the brink of breaking into the Everton first team in recent weeks and was preparing to enter the fray in the final stages of the ‘Toffees’ 2-0 win over Manchester City at Goodison on Saturday until Nikica Jelavic popped up to secure the win.
Having signed a new three year contract before Christmas, he certainly has a promising future on Merseyside but his father is concerned that this recent development could damage his reputation.
An Everton FC spokesman said: “Shane was on an evening out when his phone was taken by someone, who then retweeted an offensive remark, for which Shane has this morning publicly apologised for.”