Saturday, November 08, 2014

Irish international football player James McClean writes passionate open letter explaining his refusal to wear a shirt with poppy in Wigan game as he is abused online for his stance

  • James McClean refused to wear a poppy during Wigan's game last night 
  • The Derry-born footballer wrote to his chairman to explain his decision 
  • He said he had 'complete respect' for those who died in both World Wars
  • McClean said the poppy also represented those lost in other conflicts since
  • He said he could not wear one because of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre
  • McClean was booed when he touched the ball last night in Bolton 
  • He also received threats, abuse and support on Twitter over his decision
Republic of Ireland international James McClean has written a passionate open letter to Wigan fans to explain his decision to not wear a poppy during last night's game against Bolton Wanderers.  
Derry born McClean said if the poppy only represented those who fought in the two world wars, he would have no problem wearing one. However, he said, as the poppy also represents those who have fought since 1945 - including during the Northern Ireland conflict, he could not wear one.
McClean said he would be showing 'disrespect' to the victims of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Derry if he wore one. His stance, opened him up to significant abuse on social media.  
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Republic of Ireland International James McClean, centre, wrote a letter to Wigan Club chairman Dave Whelan explaining the reasons why he was unable to wear a poppy-embroidered shirt during last night's match 
Republic of Ireland International James McClean, centre, wrote a letter to Wigan Club chairman Dave Whelan explaining the reasons why he was unable to wear a poppy-embroidered shirt during last night's match 
McClean defended his decision claiming that wearing a poppy would be a sign of disrespect for the innocent victims of the troubles such as those killed by British Troops on Bloody Sunday in January 1972, pictured
McClean defended his decision claiming that wearing a poppy would be a sign of disrespect for the innocent victims of the troubles such as those killed by British Troops on Bloody Sunday in January 1972, pictured
McClean played for Wigan last night during the team's 3-1 defeat to Bolton Wanderers. 
Bolton fans regularly booed the Republic of Ireland international each time he touched the ball during last night's encounter. 
The player met with Wigan chairman Dave Whelan, whose grandfather from County Tipperary, fought in the First World War, to explain the situation.  
Last night, the club’s official website published a letter from McClean to Whelan in which the winger, who was named among the substitutes, explained his stance and denied being anti-British.
In that letter, McClean said he had great respect for those that fought and died in both World Wars, however, he had a great problem with the poppy representing those killed in conflicts since 1945. 
In particular, McClean said that as someone born in Derry, he could not support the poppy appeal. 
James McClean, left, faced abuse in November 2012 when as a Sunderland player he again refused to wear a poppy, although fellow Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman, right wore one playing for Everton
James McClean, left, faced abuse in November 2012 when as a Sunderland player he again refused to wear a poppy, although fellow Republic of Ireland international Seamus Coleman, right wore one playing for Everton
He cited the January 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre where 13 civil rights demonstrators were shot dead by British troops.
He said: ' For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different.'
He said that after those events it would be 'an act of disrespect' to those people.  
McClean had previously refused to wear poppy earlier in his career while playing for Sunderland. 
Police in Sunderland investigated death threats made against the winger after he appeared as a substitute against Everton in November 2012 without wearing a poppy. 
Some of the more extreme elements on Twitter wanted McClean to 'drop dead' or to suffer a major injury
Some of the more extreme elements on Twitter wanted McClean to 'drop dead' or to suffer a major injury
Twitter users were divided on their opinions on whether James McClean had made the correct decision
Twitter users were divided on their opinions on whether James McClean had made the correct decision
The statement was welcomed by many people on social media, some of whom praised McClean for having ‘the courage of his convictions’ but said it was ‘sad that it’s come to the stage he’s had to even explain himself’.
Others were more scathing of the footballer’s decision and Jon Jenner wrote on Twitter: ‘James McClean shouldn’t be allowed to play in England nothing but scum [sic]’ while another wrote: ‘Statement regarding James McClean…Utterly Disgraceful Behaviour. Disgusting Individual. 
Early in his career, McClean played international football at youth level for Northern Ireland until he reached the Under 21s.  
In February 2012, McClean received clearance from FIFA to switch over to the Republic of Ireland international squad, which led to him also receiving abuse. 
After McClean was called up for the Republic of Ireland squad for Euro 2012 and was abused by some Northern Ireland fans.
He was forced to 'retire' from Twitter after he responded to some of the abuse by telling Northern Ireland fans to watch their own team during the competition - knowing that they had not qualified. 
Two years ago, former British soldier Cody Lachey posted pictures of bullets on McClean's Twitter timeline. One of the tweets said: ''he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the cenotaph!!' 
Other users on Twitter expressed support for McClean's decision or his right not to wear a wear a poppy
Other users on Twitter expressed support for McClean's decision or his right not to wear a wear a poppy

FULL TEXT OF THE WINGER'S LETTER TO WIGAN CHAIRMAN DAVE WHELAN 

Dear Mr Whelan
I wanted to write to you before talking about this face to face and explain my reasons for not wearing a poppy on my shirt for the game at Bolton.
I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars - many I know were Irish-born. I have been told that your own Grandfather Paddy Whelan, from Tipperary, was one of those.
I mourn their deaths like every other decent person and if the Poppy was a symbol only for the lost souls of World War I and II I would wear one.
I want to make that 100% clear .You must understand this.
But the Poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.
For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different. Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history – even if like me you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth.
Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially - as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.
It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.
I am not a war monger, or anti-British, or a terrorist or any of the accusations levelled at me in the past. I am a peaceful guy, I believe everyone should live side by side, whatever their religious or political beliefs which I respect and ask for people to respect mine in return. Since last year, I am a father and I want my daughter to grow up in a peaceful world, like any parent.
I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong. In life, if you’re a man you should stand up for what you believe in.
I know you may not agree with my feelings but I hope very much that you understand my reasons.
As the owner of the club I am proud to play for, I believe I owe both you and the club’s supporters this explanation.
Yours sincerely,
James McClean 

IRISH RELUCTANCE TO WEARING THE POPPY DATES BACK TO 1916

At the outbreak of the First World War, Ireland had been promised Home Rule by the British Government. 
Constitutional Irish Nationalists such as John Redmond urged Irish men to volunteer for the British Army, in the belief that after the conflict, they would be rewarded with self-government. 
More than 200,000 Irish men volunteered to serve. 
On April 21, 1916 Irish republicans attempted to land more than 20,000 rifles and one million rounds of ammunition from a German boat on the west coast of Ireland.
With the loss of the rifles, rebels from across the country were ordered to stand down, although in Dublin, the planned Easter Rising took place. 
Rebels seized several strategic points across Dublin City on Easter Monday, April 24.
Over the next week, more than 20,000 British solders were sent to face approximately 1,600 rebels. 
Dublin City Centre was destroyed under heavy bombardment, killing more than 200 civilians.  
Civilians in Derry take cover from British Army soldiers as Fr Edward Daly, left, waves a white handkerchief while trying to escort a wounded civilian to an ambulance for emergency treatment 
Civilians in Derry take cover from British Army soldiers as Fr Edward Daly, left, waves a white handkerchief while trying to escort a wounded civilian to an ambulance for emergency treatment 
At the time of the rising, public sentiment, especially in Dublin was against the rebels. However, when the British government decided to execute 16 of the leaders of the rebellion, this turned public opinion - increasing popular support for what would become the Irish War of Independence. 
During the War of Independence 1919-1921, the British government deployed the paramilitary Black and Tans to quell the uprising using brutal methods - regularly burning the homes of suspected rebels and murdering innocent civilians. 
As a result of this, Irish men who served in the British Army during the First World War were reluctant to reveal this publicly. 
During the Second World War, again thousands of Irish volunteered to serve with British forces. 
Although with 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, British troops - especially the Parachute Regiment - were accused of civil rights abuses, such as the Bloody Sunday massacre of January 1972. 
In recent years, the Irish Government has officially recognised the sacrifice of Irish men who volunteered to serve with British forces during the two world wars - culminating in the visit of Queen Elizabeth II in Dublin in May 2011. 
Symbolically, Queen Elizabeth laid wreaths at both the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin to commemorate those who fought for Irish freedom, and a second at the war memorial in Islandbridge in which remembers Irish men who fought for Britain. 

2 comments:

tonydj said...

The Irish Ambassador laid a wreath at the Cenotaph. If he can pay homage why can't a mere footballer?

kerdasi amaq said...

It is important to recognise that those people who comprise the British government are nothing but anti-English racists and have been so since the turn of the last century.

Those who wear a red poppy had better be sure that they are not endorsing or condoning the actions of that government by doing so.

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