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Comment & Analysis

Why would James McClean – a son of Creggan – wear the poppy?

james mc web

ON Sunday, 30 January, 1972, 14 innocent people were murdered on the streets of Derry by the British army.

On Saturday, 10 November, 2012, a footballer from Derry – from the Creggan Estate, the same as six of the victims – decides not to wear a symbol that commemorates those who have fallen in service of … the British army.

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For this, his name has been dragged into the sewer by this society’s lunatics, who are making inroads in their quest to take over the asylum.

Social media has given the once silent majority of people a platform to express their views. This is a good thing.

Most people use Twitter responsibly but there’s a noisy minority of nutters who are hell bent on reducing national and international conversations to the din of a digitally-empowered rolling lynch mob.

They rarely stop to think before venting their outrage. If they did, they would realise that castigating a sportsman from Derry for not wearing a poppy makes as much sense as expressing your disgust at a sportsman from Guildford who doesn’t want to don a symbol that pays tribute to those who died while on active service for the IRA.

But the mob don’t see that because they are, well, a mob.

This unthinking rump are also unlikely to see the irony in the fact that pinning a poppy to their chest they are giving thanks for – among other things – the defeat of fascism.

People are free to express views and opinions that they wouldn’t have if they lived under Nazi rule. They are free to wear the poppy, or not to wear the poppy.

Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow cited “poppy fascism” two years ago and was, predictably, slaughtered by the crazies. Snow, to his eternal credit, told his abusers to “get on yer bike”, adding, “Hitler lost the war”.

You can see why Snow spoke out initially. It seems almost mandatory to wear a poppy if you appear on television here any time in early November.

My impression of Britain when I lived in Ireland was that the poppy was part of the national uniform at this time of year. Only after I moved did I learn that the TV had given me a false reading.

Lots of people do wear a poppy, on remembrance Sunday and throughout early November. But, as far as I can see, most people don’t.

Are the people who took to Twitter to berate James McClean going to run up and down their local high street shouting in the face of everybody without a poppy on their jacket? The way things are heading, you almost wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.

The poppy has become more than a symbol of remembrance, with Britain engaged in overseas conflict for most of this century, it is now a badge of support for “our boys.”

Like poppy fascism, the lionising of the troops has gotten way out of hand. It’s tragic so many young people are heading to Afghanistan to fight and not coming back – looking at the list of soldiers who died since last year, and the fact that many of them are so young makes it all the more harrowing.

As the names scrolled on the TV screens yesterday, you thought of the waste, the devastation to their families and you wondered how many joined the army because they wanted to fight for Queen and country, and how many did so because a life of shooting at others and being shot at was their best chance of a relatively well-paid job in present-day Britain.

Since 2001, 438 British troops have died in Afghanistan. Nobody knows how many civilians have died in Afghanistan and Iraq since the invasions. Conservative estimates put it at 132,000.

Civilians made no choice to join an army, received no training on how to survive in a war zone.

Soldiers, at least, signed up. They knew conflict was likely. Unfortunately for them, the British army is not a defensive one. It hasn’t been since World War 2. The troops are not defending the nation from foreign invasion. They are dying – and killing – thousands of miles away.

The loss of British life is tragic but it’s on a small scale compared to that of the occupied people’s. Every year, solemn tribute is paid to British troops who died while doing their job. If the same solemn tribute was paid to the countless innocent victims of British troops then maybe more people like James McClean – who can naturally relate far more to the victims than the military – would wear the poppy.

But then, maybe he wouldn’t. In a civilised country, it would be his choice to make.


Ronan Early

Ronan Early is Sports Editor and columnist with The Irish Post. Follow him on Twitter @RonanEarly

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12 comments on “Why would James McClean – a son of Creggan – wear the poppy?”

  1. aroup chatterjee

    If people want to say thanks for defeating Nazis they should proudly wear a HAMMER SICKLE STAR on their lapels

    • Sean Hone

      Well said. I made this very comment on facebook 3 days ago. 27 million Soviet citizens died fighting fascism in WW2. The Soviet Red Army inflicted 80% of the losses that Nazi Germany and its European allies suffered during that war.

  2. Drew

    Fantastic article, could not have put it better myself. There is so much irony around this time of year I don't know where to begin. None less than those who prefer to spend their time identifying those not wearing poppies as opposed to the supposed real meaning which is to honour their 'heroes'.

  3. Tom

    Exactly how I feel. The poppy taken from the fields in the Great War is a symbol of lives given up for liberty. Great respect to the guys and gals who fought in both wars for this and I do remember and thank them for their sacrifice. I cannot and will not wear a poppy today, as it is a symbol of support for what 'our boys' did and are doing in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan and other places. Just don't sit right with me.

  4. Joe Hickey

    I lived in London for 10 years, very few people wore Poppies as far as I saw. But this forcing of people to wear poppies must stop. If people want to wear a Poppy in England or Ireland I couldn't care less. But this forcing people to wear them on TV is offensive to many people.

    It is clear from the London born writer Ann Cadawllader's recently produced book (Lethal Allies) that that the British troops didn't just kill a few people in the North of Ireland but actively colluded in the Murder of hundreds of innocent people. And yet people demand people wear poppies to remember these murderers. If the Poppy was simply about remembering the massive slaughter of working class men & women in WW1 I'd wear one myself - I have family who fought in WW1 in British units - they also however fought against the British when they returned home to Ireland in the War of Independence - even with relatives left at the Somme they wouldn't wear a poppy. Poppies are not just for WW1 but they they commemorate all British soldiers who plundered and massacred millions across the globe. My country remains partitioned and those same soldiers killed directly and with their Loyalist puppets hundreds of Irish people. James McClean gets grief for not wearing a Poppy, yet his neighbours were shot on the street for demanding civil rights on Bloody Sunday? In Ireland he gets huge support and sympathy for his position.

    • Coyney77

      Good on him. I'm delighted that someone has taken a stand

  5. Terry Boy

    re there any Argentinians in the premiership that were forced to wear poppies or castigated for not?

  6. Kate

    Why does everyone think this is a British thing?? It is for troops WORLDWIDE (including Irish). The Poppy tradition was actually inspired by 'In Flanders Field' which was written by a Canadian. We wear poppies in Canada to remember our own troops, and for all those worldwide who gave up their lives so that we can remain free. The poppy should not be made a political statement, it is one of love, grief and remembrance.

    • Kilsally

      Almost Half the names on the war memorial in the Diamond in L'derry are Nationalist / Catholic

  7. Coyney77

    What a fantastic article. I thought only I felt this way!!

    Brilliant and well written

  8. Derek Warfield

    Good article and whats more those fanatics who want to impose the English Culture of remembrance on land and people they conquered. They should not forget that their military history of conquest and war has allowed them to commemorate in that way they do. They should also remember that every nation has a right to remember their fallen hero's and patriots and lay off the attacks on our popular song culture and heritage. They remember their dead with poppies and James McLean and many other Irish people remember their heroes in a different manner in song and music.The songs could never be taken away from the Irish people for they cost nothing but the lips of those who would sing and the ears of those who listen Slainte go deo James McClean Sing out your culture while other wear theirs!!!

  9. Greg

    While I admire a person who stands by his or her beliefs,I find it rather hypocritical that a person with such dislike of a country would wish to live and work there.HOW FICKLE WE CAN BE


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