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James McClean welcomes political support after speaking out about abuse

Republic of Ireland star James McClean and his wife Erin spoke out against continuing death threats and online abuse directed at their family
Seamus McKinney

SOCCER star James McClean has welcomed political support after speaking out about abuse directed towards him and his family.

The Derry-born player and his wife Erin have this week described the years of threats and abuse they have suffered.

Erin revealed that on one occasion, someone threatened to take a gun to one of her husband’s games and on another, bullets were sent to her husband in the post.

“We have security here but if James orders anything, he will order it in my name or send it to the club but he has been receiving letters again to the club so I do worry,” she told RTÉ.

The intimidation has been widely criticised by sports figures and politicians, with First Minister Arlene Foster yesterday saying she feels for Mr McClean and his family.

She called on social media platforms to end anonymity so that abusers can be held accountable, while East Derry MP Gregory Campbell also said he "unequivocally and unreservedly" condemned the abuse.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill also said footballing authorities "must take immediate action to tackle the scourge of anti-Irish racism", while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood described the anti-Irish and sectarian abuse as "despicable".

Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken also said that "too many of the people indulging in such abuse are able to hide behind anonymous online accounts", while Taoiseach Micheál Martin congratulated the McClean family for "speaking out about years of horrific abuse they've suffered online".

Mr McClean told the BBC yesterday: "I welcome the support because it's not a green or orange thing or a point-scoring thing. It is about anti-Irish abuse and how it's been over decades.

"It is no longer acceptable and people need to stand up and speak out against it because it's been going on for far too long."

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