Northern Ireland news

Royal British Legion supports James McClean's right not to wear a poppy

Derry-born footballer James McClean

THE ROYAL British Legion has said the abuse suffered by footballer James McClean as a result of his refusal to wear the poppy is “inexcusable”.

In a statement, the legion offered its “full support” to the Derry-born Republic of Ireland international, who has suffered years of abuse over his decision not to join teammates in displaying a poppy on his shirt.

His conscientious stance relates to the British army's shooting of 13 people in his native city on Bloody Sunday in 1972.

The Stoke winger and his wife Erin this week spoke publicly about the abuse and threats the 31-year-old receives on a regular basis.

In one instance he received a message from an Instagram user threatening to burn down his home with his family inside.

The Royal British Legion, which has exclusive rights to sell the poppy to raise funds for former British servicemen, said it in “no way condoned or endorsed this type of behaviour” and stood by Mr McClean's right not to wear the symbol of remembrance.

“At the Royal British Legion we believe that discrimination, hatred and abusive behaviour in any form have no place in our society and should not be tolerated,” it said.

“The poppy is a universal symbol that represents sacrifices made in the defence of freedom, and so the decision to wear it must be a matter of personal choice.

"To insist that people wear a poppy would be contrary to everything that it stands for. We offer our full support to James for exercising his right to choose not to wear a poppy.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news