Jude Collins says Boys' Brigade post on Twitter 'misinterpreted'
MEDIA commentator Jude Collins who caused outrage over an online post comparing a masked republican colour party with the Boys' Brigade apologised yesterday for any hurt caused.
However, the broadcaster insisted he had been "misinterpreted" over his response to images on Twitter of children beside masked republicans at a weekend march in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Mr Collins came under fire, after replying to a Twitter post beside the pictures which said: "Shocking images of children at masked march in Lurgan", by posting an image of a Boys' Brigade march and saying: "A bit like this, then."
The Boys' Brigade branded his tweet "grossly offensive and highly dangerous" and called for him to apologise, while the DUP's Mervyn Storey described his comments as "disgusting and outrageous".
Responding to the backlash yesterday, Mr Collins denied that his comparison was between the Boys' Brigade and dissident republicans.
"All I'm saying is that the structure of the Boys' Brigade has echoes of militarism," he told BBC Radio Ulster.
"My comparison was not between the Boys' Brigade and dissident paramilitaries."
He added: "If people have interpreted my words as saying something other than what I said, I am sorry that that's the case."
But Mr Collins admitted that his post on Twitter appeared to have "trodden on people's childhood memories" of the Boys' Brigade.
"These are good, wholesome, happy memories that people have, and they feel in some way that I have sullied that. I regret that, I would indeed be sorry for that," he said.
"But as I say, my intention was to draw a parallel, a vague parallel, between the relationship between the paramilitaries and the children and the fact that there are militaristic overtones and history to the Boys Brigade."
Earlier, the Boys' Brigade called on Mr Collins to withdraw his remarks and apologise, saying it is a Christian organisation that is "non-sectarian and it is non-political".
"To compare a youth organisation that exists for the good of all to a masked paramilitary group is both grossly offensive and highly dangerous," it said.