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It is James McClean's right not to wear a poppy

Symbol is a personal choice

icon footballpoppy22 November ~ Sunderland winger James McClean has had a difficult relationship with Twitter. He first shut his account in May, having received threats after choosing to represent the Republic of Ireland internationally and then responding to abuse from Northern Ireland fans by mocking their team's absence at Euro 2012. He returned to the site in September for some crude jokes and a rant at Ireland coach Giovanni Trapattoni, before going offline again. His account has been inactive since but police are now investigating more Twitter death threats against the 23-year-old.

This time, McClean is at the centre of another Remembrance Sunday poppy row. For Sunderland's game at Everton on November 10, he played in a shirt without the Royal British Legion symbol printed on the front. Sunderland put out a statement making clear that it was "James's personal choice not to wear a shirt [with a poppy] on this occasion". McClean grew up on the Creggan Estate, where six people were shot by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in 1972. So it is understandable that the player might have a different conception of the British military to those who grew up in other parts of the world.

Yet Twitter was outraged by McClean's plain kit. Of particular interest to police was a message sent by Cody Lachey, a Manchester doorman, who claims to be a former British soldier. He posted pictures of bullets and the message: "Poppy bullies' death threats against James McClean! Too right he deserves to be shot dead + body dragged past the cenotaph!!"

According to the Guardian, Lachey has since retracted his threat but added: "I think he's [McClean] a fucking disgrace. I know I'll end up in trouble and maybe in prison over this but I'm willing to go to court, that's how strongly I feel." Police continue to look into the tweets.

Wearing a poppy should be a personal choice, made by the individual alone, for reasons that shouldn't have to be justified to the media, fans or employers. As Chris Simpkins, director general of the Royal British Legion, said during the row over England wearing a poppy in a match against Spain last year: "We are grateful when people wear it as a sign of respect. However, the decision must be a free one – after all, the poppy represents sacrifices made in the cause of our freedoms."

The poppy on football shirts debate is not new. WSC commented on the sport's obligations to Remembrance Sunday in 2009 after the Daily Mail's campaign of "poppy pressure" on Premier League clubs.

McClean has also received support (on Twitter) this week from broadcaster Jon Snow, who said in 2006: "There is a rather unpleasant breed of poppy fascism out there: he damned well must wear a poppy." Snow added: "In the end there really must be more important things in life than whether a news presenter wears symbols on his lapels." Surely the same should apply for footballers. Any gesture of respect that is mandatory is diminished in its true importance. Ed Upright

On the subject...

Comment on 22-11-2012 13:00:09 by THC #734582
On Bloody Sunday, it may have been six people from the Creggan in number that were shot dead by the British Army, but fourteen were murdered overall. McClean's decision to not wear a poppy has to be understood in this local context, and let's not forget that forty years is a very short time in Irish history.

Meatheads like Cody Lachey need to learn and understand a little more of their own part in this history before shooting their mouths off. Reactions such as his detract from the real message outlined by the British Legion; poppy-wearing should principally be about personal recognition of the sacrifices made in the cause of freedom. Unfortunately, for many people on all sides of the 'debate', it has become about so much more.

And amen to the final sentence of this article. It captures perfectly my feelings on the matter.
Comment on 22-11-2012 13:13:12 by OnceGaza #734591
Pure Derry
21 minutes ago

Some die-hard English football fans continue to issue death threats to Derry footballer James McClean, following his choice not to wear a poppy last week. "It's disgraceful and insulting. Our armed forces were responsible for stopping an imperialist empire from taking over the entire world!" said Terry Tipton from Britain.

Britain, the imperialist empire who previously took over the entire world, remained unavailable for comment.
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You and 64 others like this.
Robin Cooke I wonder if they realise how ironic it is to give someone a death threat for "not showing respect"
19 minutes ago · Unlike · 6
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:12:57 by Duncan Gardner #734607
THC- 40 years in Irish history is as long as in anyone else's. In McClean's case, 17 years before he was born. The equivalent for me would be 1945, but I'm not still at war with the Axis powers.

Lachey will have plenty to ponder on in his prison cell (or psychiatric ward), but not his non-existent part in Bloody Sunday history.

The issue is how Remembrance Sunday has been taken over by a hysterical militaristic lobby. Let's not make it worse with 800 years of cliche, eh?
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:17:48 by Toby Gymshorts #734611
This. I don't wear a poppy either, for reasons I don't have to share with you precisely because I have the freedom not to.

Lachey deserves all he gets, without delving into that can of worms labelled "Free Speech".
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:46:34 by Duncan Gardner #734624
It's hardly a can of worms. My right not to be life-threatened clearly outweighs yours to free speech.
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:58:00 by Toby Gymshorts #734628
Indeed, DG. It wasn't in reference to your post directly; more to the kind of person who defends their right to free speech whilst denying others theirs.

No offence was intended.
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:59:09 by Lincoln #734630
I have/had a number of family members in the armed forces but I don't wear a poppy anymore due to it increasingly being deemed an obligation. I spend time each day contemplating what has been sacrificed and those who have been lost, not for a couple of minutes on the 11th. I think there are those who almost hope someone doesn't wear a poppy so they can unleash their fury, as is common these days, knowing that the weight of support is behind them and they can be as nasty as they want.

If James McClean wished to burn poppies (not that he would) as some have done then I would fight for his right to do so.
Comment on 22-11-2012 14:59:54 by Duncan Gardner #734632
None taken TG. I used 'my' and 'yours' generally.
Comment on 22-11-2012 15:04:45 by Toby Gymshorts #734636
Glad we cleared that up.
Comment on 22-11-2012 16:31:29 by Patrick Thistle #734681
In work we hosted an event and the decision was made that all my team should wear poppies. The first person to say anything along the lines of 'people should be allowed to make up their own minds' was the one member of the team who has spent time in the armed forces (at least 10 years).
Comment on 22-11-2012 19:04:32 by THC #734746
Duncan, you're being disingenuous and you know it. You know fine well the point I'm making, that in Derry of all places this stuff matters like it happened yesterday. Throwing in 1945 as if it's some kind of equivalent is to miss the point spectacularly. I'd have expected better from someone usually as knowledgeable, reasoned and nuanced as you.

Comment on 22-11-2012 19:21:31 by geobra #734749
Surely the question everyone in this debate (but why is a debate necessary?)should be asking is - what would the dead who lie under those tombstones in the little graveyards that still dot northern France think of it all?

It seems to me unquestionable that the wearing or not of a poppy must be a choice freely made, and that choice must be respected by all.
Comment on 22-11-2012 19:46:01 by Duncan Gardner #734756
THC- I'm not being at all disingenuous, I understand your point quite well. Merely disagreed with what looks like lazy cliche.

The equivalent I suggested was exact, actually. Unlike the vague 'local context' you offer.

Anyway, thanks for the compliment.
Comment on 22-11-2012 19:58:15 by THC #734758
We've met, Duncan - our mutual friend is King of the Daleks. So the compliment is based on first-hand experience, which is why I took issue with your response. What you consider lazy cliché was an attempt to explain concisely and dispassionately the situation to an audience that might lack our specific knowledge. Nonetheless, I think the point has now been made.

Comment on 23-11-2012 08:16:25 by Diable Rouge #734846
DG - you live in the present, but you know full well that too many Ulstermen live in 1690 and 1916, let alone 1945, so THC's "lazy cliche" is hardly misplaced. Like with him, the final sentence captures my personal attitude perfectly - let people wear poppies, Orange sashes or Easter lilies if they so wish, but if it's just done to gratuituously offend others, then the original meaning is lost.
Comment on 23-11-2012 08:54:24 by Duncan Gardner #734853
DR: everyone on this thread- probably everyone on OTF- agrees about the militarisation of the poppy issue.

I was challenging THC'S introduction of wider NI Politics. "40 years is a short time in Irish politics" is meaningless (or at least the exact opposite of most political cliches); "Lachey needs to learn and understand a little more of his own part in this history" is simply wrong- a 30 year old however fuckwitted has nowt to do with events 40 years ago.

Let's not take the time machine back to 1690. Of course I realise the events of 1972 are raw for many people in Derry, but it's a bit depressing if McClean's one of them.
Comment on 23-11-2012 10:44:04 by THC #734873
DG, as you've just egregiously misquoted me twice to support your own standpoint, I am afraid I cannot let this go just yet.

i) I referred to Irish history, not politics. DB backs up my point perfectly, "too many Ulstermen live in 1690 and 1916, let alone 1945". You know this to be true so to accuse me of lazy cliché here is, and I restate, disingenuous.

ii) "Meatheads like Lachey..." does not refer to him personally, but those who, like him, grandstand without being in full possession of the facts. In future, please read what I said properly if you wish to take issue with it.

All of us on these islands, whether we like it or not, possess a shared history, a greater knowledge and understanding of which from all sides would only help in the cause of building a shared future together.

And on your final point, we agree. The events of 1972 are raw for many people in Derry (not least because of the Widgery whitewash and the years it took Saville to formally uncover the truth) and it is a bit depressing if McClean is one of them but - and this is the crux of my point where he is concerned - it is also wholly understandable.

Comment on 23-11-2012 10:53:35 by Mackem_Dave #734875
It is James McClean's personal decision which country he plys his trade and indeed which club he plays for. It should not be his decision to pick and choose which shirt he wears. If he does not wish to wear a poppy when 'off duty' that is fine.
Where does the 'personal decision' stop? Could a muslim player refuse to wear the sponsors name of an alcoholic brand because of his beliefs? what about a methodist player refusing to wear a gambling sponsor? Or a Christian refusing to play on a Sunday? We all have perosnal choices to make, but while Mr McClean is prepared to hold his nose and play in England and take English money it is a little rich to start bleating about not wearing a poppy.
The problem with McClean is that the lad is just not very bright, he has arguments, mostly via Twitter about playing for the Republic of Ireland as opposed to Northern Ireland despite it being convenient for him to represent Ulster at U16 and U21 football. Then he falls out with Trappatoni when he thinks he knows best after playing six months in the Premier League.
Time for him to show what he really believes in, eithe rplay for Sunderland and shut up or walk away and play for Londonderry City in the backwaters
Comment on 23-11-2012 11:02:14 by Lincoln #734880
"Could a muslim player refuse to wear the sponsors name of an alcoholic brand because of his beliefs?"

Yep, Seville allowed Kanute to not have the gambling logo on his shirt. People are nice like that, accepting people's personal beliefs.

Also he played in England quite happily because his issue is with the military not the country.
Comment on 23-11-2012 11:11:23 by donedmundo #734881
Disappointing post from Mackem Dave. I don't wear a poppy for reasons that are nobody's business but my own. To suggest that if people don't conform they should 'walk away' says a lot about you.

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