POLICE have confirmed they are investigating a comment left on Twitter by former Tyrone GAA star Tommy McGuigan calling for his followers to punch Jews.
The All-Ireland winner, who has since deleted the comment, tweeted, “If you are lucky enough to know or work with a Jew, punch him right on the nose tomorrow.”
He has since apologised for the remark, claiming it was written as a joke and was meant as “nothing serious”.
The comment, posted on July 29, has sparked a backlash of abusive tweets directed at the Ardboe man, accusing him of anti-Semitism and threatening the GAA player with violence.
The tweet has also been reported in one of Israel’s largest online news websites.
Under the headline ‘Soccer Star (sic) Urges Fans to Punch Jews in the Nose,’ Israel National News reported last week that McGuigan was “the latest sports figure to spew anti-Semitism”.
A police spokesperson told the Tyrone Herald that a formal complaint had been made.
“A complaint was received by police on Thursday August 14 and officers are currently carrying out a number of enquiries,” said the PSNI.
Speaking on Friday, the former Tyrone player said he was shocked at how far the comments had travelled.
“I apologise for any offence caused,” he said, admitting that he had posted the comment after watching coverage of events in Gaza, but didn’t intend for it to be taken seriously.
“It was meant as a joke. You’re sitting watching the news and you thinking this is not right.
“I am not in the public eye and it was just a joke to the people I hang around with.
“It has just spiralled, you have people messaging you calling you all kinds of names.”
The GAA man said he accepted that he had caused offence and would take more care with what he posted online in future. He added that at the time, he didn’t appreciate the public nature of Twitter comments.
Mr McGuigan said he had passed his number onto a London based Jewish columnist who requested to speak with him in order to confront him over his comment.
“I said it was meant as a joke, nothing serious. He agreed to let it go.”
However screenshots of the tweet continued to circulate on social media, culminating in Wednesday’s news story on Israel National News. Owned by the Arutz Sheva (Channel 7), the Israeli media network is a major player in the Middle East, typically identifying with Neo-Zionism. Based in Beit El, an Israeli settlement in the West Bank, it is regarded as the voice of the Israeli settlement movement.