All English soccer clubs were set to wear the poppy last weekend to commemorate the wars that Britain fought in. It is also the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
A leading Republic of Ireland international James McClean has refused to wear a poppy embroidered soccer shirt because he says it commemorates British soldiers who attacked civilians in his native Northern Ireland on Bloody Sunday in 1972 in Derry where 14 civilians were killed.
McClean addressed his letter to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan. McClean said: “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.
In that letter, McClean said: “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 One and Two I would wear one; I want to make that 100 per cent 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.”
Personally we think his opinion and decision should be accepted and respected.
What do you think?