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Diageo, the legendary company behind Guinness, has officially cancelled its sponsorship of London Irish Rugby Club over their choice to sign former Ulster and Ireland out-half Paddy Jackson.

We all remember the rugby star after the infamous and harrowing Belfast rape trial of last year, where he was acquitted. Three other men who had been charged in relation to the incident were also acquitted.

Stuart Olding and Jackson both had their contacts cancelled in the wake of the trial, after their Whatsapp messages showed vile, misogynistic language about women involved in allegedly consensual sex acts with them.

Seeing as London Irish markets themselves as a family club, we're not surprised fans were angry when a man who discusses 'spit roasts' and says phrases like, "Any sluts get f*cked?" was signed on to play for them.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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In a statement to The Irish Times, Diageo said: “We have met with the club to express our concerns. Their recent decision is not consistent with our values and so we have ended our sponsorship.”

Diageo had recently said that it had "serious concerns" regarding Jackson's signing, but failed to reference the sponsorship deal, which has been in place for 27 years.

Another London Irish sponsor, Cash Converters, terminated its relationship with the club. On Twitter, the company said; “As a company, we are committed to the highest possible standards when it comes to our investments in any sponsorships and collaborations.

"As a result of a detailed and thorough review of our support for London Irish, we have decided to discontinue our association with the club.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Last night, London Irish said its management is “understandably disappointed that Diageo has chosen not to renew its sponsorship agreement with the club, and particularly the manner in which the company has chosen to do so”.

“The club has always respected the right for everyone to have an opinion, and their right to express that opinion,” the statement said.

“London Irish has been open and honest with all of its sponsors, including offering to meet Diageo’s senior management in Dublin in May, 2019. This offer was not taken up.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The management also said the club would move on “without the support of Diageo, who have chosen to stand down after a nearly 30-year association with the club”.

“It is regretful that this relationship has ended in the manner that it has,” the statement said. Declan Kidney, head coach at London Irish and former Ireland coach, signed Paddy Jackson and defended the decision last year;

“We are fully aware that there was a court case that Paddy was involved in but that has  been  dealt  with. What  has gone on in the past had gone on in the past and we are just trying to move on to the future."

Feature image: Instagram/@glenmoremanor

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London Irish have just confirmed that Paddy Jackson has signed for their team ahead of the upcoming 2019/20 rugby season.

Jackson was acquitted of rape in the now-infamous Belfast case last year alongside Ulster team-mate Stuart Olding, and joined Perpignan last summer.

Both players had their national-team contracts revoked by the Irish Rugby Football Union after the social media storm surrounding offensive, misogynistic texts messages sent into a group chat.

Olding and Jackson were accused of embodying the middle-class toxic masculinity of the country through their sexually-degrading comments about women.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Jackson is now linking up with London Irish's director of rugby Declan Kidney and head coach Les Kiss, who both worked with him in their time in Ireland.

There's a history between them; Kidney awarded Jackson his first international cap back in 2013, while Kiss worked with the fly-half with both the Ireland national team and Ulster.

"Players of the calibre of Paddy Jackson do not become available very often and both myself and Les are looking forward to working with him in the future" Kidney said.

"He is a player with proven international quality who we feel will add value to our squad, and it is pleasing that Paddy sees London Irish as a part of his future."

Speaking on the move, Jackson said: "I’m delighted to be joining London Irish next season at such an exciting and pivotal time for everyone involved with the club. London Irish have a clear vision for where they want to be and I look forward to being part of it."

He apologised following the trial for his disrespectful conduct towards the woman who accused him of rape; "The criticism of my behaviour is fully justified and I know I have betrayed the values of my family and those of the wider public."

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the general Irish public respond to the latest controversial news. 

Feature image: Instagram/@_thesmokingjacket

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"The last thing I want is a girl crying leaving my house."- Paddy Jackson

The Belfast Rape Trial led to shockingly large media coverage, emotional social media comment and outraged street protest.

The nine-week trial ended in late March 2018, when the jury of nine men and three women unanimously served not guilty verdicts on all charges to all four men involved.

Ex-Ulster and Ireland rugby players Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson were found not guilt of rape and sexual assault at a house party in June 2016, leading to an onslaught of widespread criticism of how trials such as these are conducted.

Defendants Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison were also found not guilty on all charges, with Irish rugby captain Rory Best facing critique for attending the trial itself. The hashtag #notmycaptain trended on Irish Twitter.

Two leading barristers in the case feature in the documentary, Toby Hedworth QC for the Prosecution and Brendan Kelly QC for Paddy Jackson.

Image: Belfast Live

The trial ended on March 28, but has remained in the headlines all-year-round, specifically regarding the #MeToo movement, as well as the recent rape trial in Cork.

Both trials have generated upsetting levels of scandal due to the introduction of female underwear as evidence. The Belfast trial saw the young woman's bloodied thong passed around the courtroom with 100 members of the public.

Las week, #ThisIsNotConsent went viral after the news hit regarding a rape trial in court where her underwear was used as evidence of her apparent consent.

Ruth Coppinger TD produced a thong in the middle of a Dáil debate to make a point about the treatment of witnesses in rape trials.

The Gillen Review Panel in Northern Ireland was published this week, and recommended numerous changes around serious sexual assault trials. 

In the documentary, RTÉ One also spoke to members of the public who attended the Belfast rape trial. 

Fair warning, Documentary On One: Notes From A Belfast Rape Trial is a very difficult listen. Narrated by Emer Horgan and Ronan Kelly, the listener of the documentary is faced with some quite graphic testimony.

That jury decided that they could not say, beyond reasonable doubt, that rape had taken place in Paddy Jackson’s house on that June night in 2016. 

Anyone who feels affected by any issues contained within this documentary, please visit the RTÉ Support page for Helpline information

The first broadcast will be tomorrow, Saturday November 24  2018, on RTÉ Radio 1 at 2pm.

Feature image: JOE.co.uk

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It seems that Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding could one day return to the Emerald Isle to play for Ireland. 

David Nucifora, performance director and senior administrator with the IRFU told The Times that the pair could return to the national team.

When asked by The Times if it could ever happen, he said: 

'I don’t think we can make a comment on that. But I don’t think anything is ever forever. Who knows what could happen?'

'For the immediate future, there’s no thought that they will be considered. They are playing overseas so at the moment if you’re playing overseas, you’re not considered.'

Jackson and Olding are currently signed with French teams. 

'The players have found new contracts so that’s a positive for them, personally, and everyone just has to move on from that,' Nucifora said. 

'It was a tough year for the players, for Ulster and for rugby in general. Hopefully, we don’t go through that ever again.'

Both players were involved in a high-profile rape trial earlier this year, and although they were found not guilty, the IRFU concluded at the time that their actions did not adhere to the game's core values: "Respect, inclusivity and integrity." 

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Sale Sharks have released a statement saying they have no intention of signing Paddy Jackson or Stuart Olding. 

Reports yesterday suggested that the players had been offered deals by the English Premiership side after their contracts were terminated by the IRFU following an internal review last month. 

"We can confirm there is no substance to the rumours currently circulating in relation to the signing of the two international rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding," the statement read. 

“Our search continues for top class players to bolster the squad for next season.”

According to Press Association Sport, Sales did explore the possibility of taking on the former Ulster team-mates, though the club's hierarchy decided against it. 

Both players were involved in a high-profile rape trial earlier this year, and although they were found not guilty, the IRFU concluded that their actions did not adhere to the game's core values: "Respect, inclusivity and integrity." 

At the time, the IRFU also announced that they intend to ensure that these core values are applied across the board. 

"It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game."

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Paddy Jackson is said to be ready to sign a cut-price deal with English Premiership side Sale Sharks after the terms of which were agreed by both player and club. 

According to The Telegraph, Jackson's former Ulster team mate Stuart Olding is also expected to sign for the side. 

The paper reports that Jackson has accepted a deal worth around €230k a year – €50k less than he was being paid by the IRFU. 

Both men had their contracts revoked by the IRFU last month after a high-profile rape trial which saw them acquitted of all charges. 

An internal review into the players misconduct found that although they were found not guilty, their actions did not adhere to the game's core values: "Respect, inclusivity and integrity." 

At the time, the IRFU also announced that they intend to ensure that these core values are applied across the board. 

'It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game.'

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Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding will be financially compensated after being dropped by the IRFU and Ulster Rugby. 

The news comes after the sporting organisations released a joint statement yesterday confirming that both players would have their contracts revoked following the Belfast rape trial. 

According to the Sunday Independent, Paddy Jackson will be paid off by the IRFU, in a compromise that will see him walk way with a figure "close to his contract value," while Stuart Olding is also expected to receive a undisclosed payment. 

Exact figures are set to remain confidential, however the Irish Mirror reports that the both players were on contracts of between €100,000 and €300,000 per year.

Both men were acquitted of rape and sexual assault in Belfast last month. 

A spokesperson for the IRFU told the Sunday Independent: "The substantive issue here is that the players' contracts have been revoked with immediate effect, beyond that we have no further comment to make."

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The IRFU have today announced the departure of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding following an internal review

Last month, they were found not guilty of rape and sexual assault.

The internal review was completed on Wednesday.

In a statement, The IRFU said: 'Following a review, conducted in the aftermath of recent court proceedings, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have revoked the contracts of Patrick Jackson and Stuart Olding with immediate effect.'

'In arriving at this decision, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby acknowledge our responsibility and commitment to the core values of the game: Respect, Inclusivity and Integrity.'

The IRFU also announced that they intend to ensure that these core values are applied across the board. 

'It has been agreed, as part of this commitment, to conduct an in-depth review of existing structures and educational programmes, within the game in Ireland, to ensure the importance of these core values is clearly understood, supported and practised at every level of the game.'

A number of the game's sponsors expressed concern about the public reaction to the trial and the evidence which was made common knowledge through it, including a series of Whats App messages which have been perceived as having a sexist and degrading tone by many.

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Today, The Irish Times has reported that an advertisement has appeared in a local newspaper, calling for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to be banned from Ulster and Irish Rugby.

A group of 139 people, who have called themselves “concerned fans”, got money together in a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the advertisement in today's copy of the Belfast Telegraph.

The open letter reads: 

“To the leadership of the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby…The content of social media exchanges involving Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding was reprehensible.

“Such behaviour falls far beneath the standard that your organisations represent and as such we demand that neither of these men represents Ulster or Ireland now or at any point in the future.

“We expect an answer to this letter.”

It is signed off: “Yours, concerned fans.”

Last week in Belfast, Mr Olding and Mr Jackson were found not guilty of raping the same woman back in 2016. Mr Jackson was also found not guilty of a charge of sexual assault.

Two other men who were also involved in the case were acquitted. 

Following the result of the trial, both Ulster Rugby and the IRFU said that a review process was under way to assess the futures of the two players.

A number of public demonstrations were held in cities across Ireland following the trial verdict, calling for a change in media reporting and sex education in schools.

As a result of these protests, the idea for the advertisement was born. 

According to the report by The Irish Times, 'the crowdfunding campaign to publish the ad exceeded its €2,000 target within 36 hours.'

One of the organisers of the crowdfunded ad told the Belfast Telegraph: “A friend and I felt, like many people around the country do, that the WhatsApp exchanges as revealed in court goes against any moral standard of what can be considered acceptable behaviour.

“These players have a national and international platform and the IRFU and Ulster Rugby have a role to play in enforcing moral standards.”

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Protests have been organised across the country today in the wake of the not-guilty verdict handed out by the jury to Paddy Jackson and his teammate Stuart Olding.

Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison were also found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Public opinion clearly shows an opposing view to the verdict, with the #IBelieveHer trending in Ireland since yesterday, and now thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in opposition to the verdict.

Here's a glance at what's happening around the country right now: 

Dublin 

 

Smashing the patriarchy with mother and the twins #istandwithher #ibelieveher

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Ireland, you have to do better for your women.. #ibelieveher #repealthe8th #fightback

A post shared by Wendi Griffin (@gr1ff1ngold) on

Cork

 

We believe her. #ibelieveher

A post shared by Audrey Ellard Walsh (@audreyellardwalsh) on

Belfast

Galway

Feature Image // Twitter 

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“The young lads went overboard but this is what young lads do on occasion. They have suffered far too much.”

This was a comment written by Billy Keane, in the comment section of The Irish Independent, in the wake of the Ballyragget scandal.

In case you need a bit of refreshing on the Ballyragget case, a scandal erupted in the small Kilkenny village after some photos of the intermediate hurling team celebrating a club victory went viral.

There were strippers involved, and claims that one of them, Fifi, was paid for performing a sex act on a player.

But of course, instead of being thoroughly investigated for their viral (literally thousands of people saw the pictures and videos) misconduct, the men (not boys, not “young lads”, but grown-ass men) were given nothing more than a slap on the wrist.

This culture of ‘boys will boys’ and ‘it’s just a bit of craic’ is a cover for a much deeper misogyny that has reared its ugly head in Ireland recently. We’ve had enough, it’s time for Ireland’s #TimesUp moment.

If the trial of four rugby players, including Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, has shown us anything it’s that ‘lad culture’ is strong in sport- and that sport will stop at nothing to protect its own.

Let me preface this by saying that I have absolutely nothing against rugby or the GAA. Sport is a fantastic way of bringing families, communities and entire countries together. It is a treasured social outlet for many men and women. Professional and dedicated sportspeople deserve our highest respect, but that does not mean that they are above the law, despite their acquittal of all charges clearly stating otherwise. 

Male GAA and rugby stars command the same amount of notoriety and power, as film stars and Hollywood hotshots do in the United States. We’re a small nation, so to make it big, most of our actors and musicians head for the bright lights of the States or London. But one thing we refuse to export are sportspeople.

In rugby, our national team have taken on Goliaths like England, France and the All Blacks, and we’ve won. This is an immense source of Irish pride, and it’s hard not to feel something when our team is given the Six Nations or places in the World Cup.

Those men (and women, the ladies team deserve far more recognition than they get) are representing us, they are Ireland on the pitch.

So, what happens when one of our stars is accused of rape? The “lads only club” kicks in.

Lad culture and rugby are synonymous. Don’t believe me? Ross O’Carroll-Kelly created an entire series about it.

According to a report published by the National Union of Students in the UK, Lad Culture in universities is damaging and sexist. Lad Culture can be defined as a version of masculinity that promotes pack mentality, excessive drinking, multiple sexual partners and overtly homophobic, sexist and aggressive language in the form of “banter”.

While the study focuses on Lad Culture in universities, it does note the connection between sports and ‘laddisms’.

“‘Lad Culture’ was thought to be particularly influential in the social side of university life,” states the report.

“Extracurricular activities and sports in particular were singled out as key sites, and it was reported that sexism in such environments could spill over into sexual harassment and humiliation.”

This ‘banter’, while explicitly sexual and violent is usually dismissed as “just a bit of craic”. Speaking out about it or challenging offensive sexual speak leaves us to open to being called “dry”, “hysterical”, or even worse, “one of those man-hating feminists”.

Women, and men, uncomfortable with these laddisms are left to suffer in silence- or even become compliant and join in on the ‘banter’.

The ‘banter’ flying about the Whatsapp group the morning after the aforementioned alleged rape further proves this.

The morning after the acts took place, one of the rugby players posted a selfie of himself with three female party-goers, captioned “Love Belfast sluts.” 

Charming. 

A friend replied, “Boys, did you lads spit roast lasses? Legends!! … why are we all such legends?” to which the man responded: “I know. It’s ridiculous.” 

The conversation continued on a similar vein, with one message asking if the women were “Brassers”- Belfast slang for prostitutes.

“Two days after the alleged rape, at 11.28am,” writes The Irish Independent. “Mr McIlroy sent a message to a friend stating: ‘Pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday. Roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night.’”

To be honest, they sound more like they were describing a chicken dinner, than actual sex. 

Image result for me too

Rape jokes and other such lad culture tripe serve to dehumanise women, completely disregarding any kind of consent. She is no longer a woman, sister, daughter, friend. She is a “bird” waiting to be “pumped” and “roasted”.

The fact that that defence lawyer called these texts a "titillating sideshow", only proves the power of misogynistic power of "banter" over a woman's right to speak her truth. 

This is not just ‘banter’ between team mates, it’s symptomatic of a wider disregard for consent. In the words of Stuart Olding, “I didn't force myself on her. I presume she wanted it to happen. She didn't have to stay, she could have left.”

Okay, let’s break this one down.

They’re rugby players, it’s literally their job to be as physically strong as possible. By his own admission, Olding had consumed “eight cans of Carlsberg beer, four pints of Guinness, two gins, five vodka and lemonades and three shots of tequila and sambuca.” Combine an athletics physical strength with that amount of alcohol and even what might not seem to be any force for them could literally crush a normal person.

Now to, “I presume she wanted it to happen.”

No. Just, no.

He “presumed” she wanted to have sex with him, because why wouldn't she? They’ve constantly been told that they’re brilliant since they were tackling a teddy in their cribs. In Ireland, the recognition that sports receive is the equivalent to a Hollywood A-lister. Why wouldn't any woman want you? It goes with the territory. Wrong.

Couple this egotism with the laddist ignoring consensual conversations, any regard for the woman’s wishes in this situation has been ignored.

As the old saying goes, “If you assume, you make an ‘ass’ of ‘u’ and ‘me’.”

And apparently, none of this was enough to actually convict any of them. All four have walked free. 

It’s not funny, it’s not banter. It’s the last bastion of overt and accepted misogyny of our so-called “equal” society.

Like I said before, sport is not the only area where “lad culture” flourishes.

Sport doesn't have to be like this. In fact, the team bond and their visibility make them an excellent place for open conversation, debate and education. Just look at soccer's 'Give Respect, Get Respect' Campaign. Yeah, it didn't solve racism but at least it CALLED IT OUT.  

Take a look at the Times Up movement in the States, it’s only once we start an open and inclusive conversation can this be fixed. Dragging the problem kicking and screaming into the spotlight instead of writing it off as just another grey area.

The days of hushing sexual assault and harassment under the carpet embroidered “boys will be boys” are over. Let’s take what happened in Belfast as a beginning, a beginning of a brighter, healthier, more inclusive era for Ireland’s sports teams.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to talk about consent, not just women. It starts with a simple replacing of “It’s just a bit of craic” with “Lads, cut it out.” It starts with saying "I believe her". 

Just because they've walked away, doesn't mean that women are going to be silenced.  We owe it to her to speak up. We owe it to ourselves, our sisters, friends, co-workers to call time on this bullshit perception that men can get away with saying and doing whatever they want. 

We owe it to our daughters, to be able to tell them that we're the reason that they can go out and feel safe. 

We owe it to our sons, to teach them that real men respect women. 

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The jury in the trial of the Belfast rugby rape trail has found all four men not guilt on all charges.

The complainant had alleged she was raped by Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson, and orally raped by his teammate Stuart Olding.

Blane McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road denies exposure, while 25-year old Rory Harrison, from Manse Road was charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

All four men denied the charges made against them throughout the nine-week trial.

The jury, which consisted of eight men and three women, reached their unanimous verdict after three hours and 40 minutes of deliberation.

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