Rugby internationals slammed over black faces in Twitter snap
international rugby players Chris Henry, Paddy Jackson and Andrew Trimble have been slammed for dressing up as the Ethiopian Olympic team in an offensive picture posted online.
Coated in black and brown body paint, wearing wigs and with Ethiopian flags emblazoned on yellow shirts, the sportsmen were attending a themed costume party when the picture was taken.
Jackson appears to have a chain binding his neck to his wrists in the picture, leading to suggestions that the fly-half was alluding to slavery.
The player is pictured with much darker face paint than his friends.
Dressing up in this way and using dark body paint on the face and body is called "blacking-up" and it is considered hugely disrespectful.
In the photo, two of the players were carrying an Ethiopian flag.
The picture was criticised and blasted as deeply offensive by a spokesman for the African and Caribbean Support Organisation Northern Ireland.
Ulster Rugby released a statement saying it was sorry for the picture.
The body said it would like to "apologise unreservedly for any offence caused". It also said that the picture was taken two years ago at an Olympic-themed party.
It is unclear how long the photo has been online, but Jackson made it his profile picture recently, which attracted the harsh criticism.
The snap of the rugby stars was posted to micro-blogging site Twitter.
Jackson uploaded it to his account and then made it his profile picture, sparking a storm of controversy.
It has now been removed from Twitter, according to an Ulster Rugby spokesperson.
A source said the players realise the outfits were "inappropriate".
"They were never setting out to humiliate fellow sports players," the source told the Herald.
The three were in the squad that won this year's Six Nations Championship.
Also posing in the snap with their faces blacked up are Ulster player Michael Allen and former player Paddy McAllister.