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England boss Gareth Southgate gives his reaction after Declan Rice issues apology over old social media messages

Independent.ie logo Independent.ie 21/03/2019 Kevin Palmer
Gareth Southgate wearing a suit and tie: Gareth Southgate believes the apology from Rice should end the matter (Nick Potts/PA) © PA Wire/PA Images Gareth Southgate believes the apology from Rice should end the matter (Nick Potts/PA)

England manager Gareth Southgate has accepted an apology from Declan Rice after the West Ham youngster was caught up in a storm of controversy as old tweets emerged that appeared to show his support for the IRA.

Rice issued a statement on Thursday after the tweets emerged that included references to 'Up the Ra', with his presence in the England training camp ahead of their Euro 2020 qualifiers making his position all the more uncomfortable.

Steven N'Zonzi standing in front of a crowd: "West Ham's Declan Rice commits international future to England despite three Republic of Ireland caps" © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited "West Ham's Declan Rice commits international future to England despite three Republic of Ireland caps" Southgate and his employers at The Football Association have spoken out against England fans chanting anti-IRA songs in recent months, with this incident certain to be a source of embarrassment after Rice's first call-up to the England squad this month.

The West Ham midfielder played three senior internationals for the Republic of Ireland before switching his allegiances to England, with the tweets from 2015 drawing this response from Southgate.

a group of people sitting in the grass: "Declan Rice 'bursting with pride' at England call-up" © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited "Declan Rice 'bursting with pride' at England call-up" "He's apologised. It's not representative of what he believes and what he feels," Southgate told a media conference. "Outside of that it was when he was 15 or 16 and engaged in conversation with friends.

"We've probably said things, written things that would look different several years later."

Declan Rice is with the England squad for the first time © Getty Declan Rice is with the England squad for the first time 'I sincerely apologise for any offence cause' - Declan Rice issues statement after 'Up the Ra' tweets resurface (Independent.ie)

Southgate was then asked how England fans would react to the Rice tweets, as he suggested the FA's stance against anti-IRA chants from supporters remains firm.

"Our messaging doesn't change. Declan's statement is consistent with that," he added. "We are against any of our supporters taking up that stance. I don't think anything changes form an England or FA point of view.

27 March 2018; Declan Rice of Republic of Ireland celebrates following the UEFA U21 Championship Qualifier match between the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile © Provided by Irish Independent 27 March 2018; Declan Rice of Republic of Ireland celebrates following the UEFA U21 Championship Qualifier match between the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile "I think people understand. Most people will have children of those kind of ages. They are still maturing. You can get giddy or say things you don't know much about. Our fans or our public will understand that fact."

Rice was quick to issue a statement on his Instagram account after details of the tweets were republished as he stated: "I am aware that a poorly-expressed comment I made when I was a junior player has been circulated on social media," he wrote, commenting on posts he made when he was 15-year-old.

22 March 2018; Manager Martin O'Neill and Declan Rice during a Republic of Ireland training session at Antalya Stadium in Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile © Provided by Irish Independent 22 March 2018; Manager Martin O'Neill and Declan Rice during a Republic of Ireland training session at Antalya Stadium in Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile "I recognise now that my attempt to show support for my team-mates at the time could be negatively interpreted.

"While my naive words were not meant to be a political opinion and do not represent who I am, I sincerely apologise for any offence caused."

The English FA have confirmed that they will not punish Rice for the messages, but have written to him to warn him of his future conduct.

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