Basketball

Basketball Ireland CEO Steps Down After 'Unacceptable' Social Media Post

Basketball Ireland CEO Steps Down After 'Unacceptable' Social Media Post

Following a widely criticised social media post, Bernard O'Byrne has stepped down as CEO of Basketball Ireland.

O'Byrne, who has been part of the organisation for 10 years, will leave Basketball Ireland with immediate effect, the organisation announced on Tuesday evening.

Last week, in the aftermath of England's Euro 2020 semi-final win over Denmark, O'Byrne commented "BLACK DIVES MATTER!!!" in reply to a BBC News post on Facebook. The comment referred to the controversial awarding of a penalty to England's Raheem Sterling.

"Bernard O’Byrne is stepping down from his role as CEO and Secretary General of Basketball Ireland with immediate effect," Basketball Ireland said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The joint decision has been made by Mr. O’Byrne and the Basketball Ireland Board, to help the organisation move forward following a recent social media post by Mr. O’Byrne from a personal account."

Basketball Ireland chairman, Paul McDevitt, said: "I am very disappointed that Bernard is retiring under these circumstances. We know that the basketball community and beyond has felt particularly let down over the last few days and we will continue to listen to and address any concerns that are raised. Basketball Ireland takes a zero tolerance stance on any form of discrimination, and diversity and inclusion are key pillars in our sport.

"Bernard’s comment on social media was unacceptable. It has subsequently cast him in an unfavourable light, which is very unfortunate as over the last decade he has been a driving force within the basketball community in Ireland in addressing bullying and negative attitudes regarding gender, sexuality and race. His brief lapse in judgement does not reflect the person I know, nor Basketball Ireland as an organisation."

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O'Byrne apologised for hurt caused by his remark.

"While I am hugely disappointed that this is how my decade with Basketball Ireland has ended, I understand that stepping down is in the best interests of the sport," he said.

"I am deeply apologetic over the hurt caused by my remark and I am fully cognisant of the struggles with discrimination that many people are having to deal with in day-to-day life.

"My comment was an off-the-cuff, extremely ill-judged attempt at humour based on wordplay only, that was never intended to be racially insensitive or make light of organisations which have done so much to help raise awareness of inclusion and discrimination."

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Eoin Harrington

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