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Sunday 9 December 2018

Ulster star Gilroy is left out of squad after rape trial message

Craig Gilroy at court during the trial of Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA
Craig Gilroy at court during the trial of Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA

Ireland rugby star Craig Gilroy has "apologised unreservedly for any offence caused" after it emerged that he took part in lurid WhatsApp exchanges that were used as evidence in the rugby rape trial.

Ulster teammates Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (25) were acquitted of all charges in the trial last week.

However, the pair were suspended by both the IRFU and Ulster Rugby pending an internal review.

Winger Gilroy, who has 10 caps for Ireland, is now also the subject of an internal review and will not be involved in his club's game against Edinburgh this weekend.

Inappropriate

In a statement issued online, Gilroy said the WhatsApp message was sent privately and not part of any group chat.

"Regardless, my comment was totally inappropriate and is not an accurate reflection of my beliefs nor Ulster Rugby's values," he said.

"I take full responsibility for my actions and in future will ensure the language I use in private or public better reflects who I am and what I stand for.

"I am deeply sorry for the hurt my comment has caused."

In a joint statement released yesterday afternoon, Ulster Rugby and the IRFU said:"We confirm that as Craig Gilroy is subject to an internal review, he will not be available for selection this weekend."

It emerged during the rape trial of Jackson and Olding that Gilroy had participated in the series of lurid WhatsApp messages.

In one, he wrote: "Any s***s get f***ed?"

The sender of this message was referred to only as "CG" during court proceedings.

In reply to this, Olding said: "Precious secrets."

Gilroy was pictured attending the trial during its early weeks.

In February, while the trial was on, he signed a contract extension with the IRFU until 2021.

The IRFU and Ulster Rugby were asked about the nature of the internal review and if Gilroy will be unavailable for selection past this weekend, but no response was forthcoming.

The review into Jackson and Olding will be conducted by officials from the IRFU and Ulster Rugby, but no further details on the scope or timeline of the review have been provided.

Meanwhile, a rally in support of the woman at the centre of the rape trial is set to take place outside Ulster Rugby's Kings-pan stadium next week when the team play their first home game since the trial ended.

The Belfast Feminist Network (BFN) said the demonstration is to "put pressure" on Ulster Rugby not to "re- employ" Jackson and Olding.

BFN has not notified the PSNI about the planned rally, which is due to take place in the south of the city.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "Police would ask anyone intending to organise a public protest or demonstration to contact local police at the earliest opportunity."

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