HARTE OF THE MATTER: James McClean and the poppy

"I have the greatest respect for James McClean, but his actions are misplaced in today's world."

Jimmy Harte


Jimmy Harte


HARTE OF THE MATTER: James McClean and the poppy

As we watch the progress of the Irish soccer team it brings out peculiar facets in our psyche. We have a manager from Northern Ireland and one of our top players, James McClean, is a Derry man. Nothing unusual in that but when we look closer to the story we see  McClean refusing to wear a poppy on his football shirt when appearing for his club West Brom. 

His argument is that he is not going to celebrate the memory of the British soldiers in the first World War as they were part of the same army as those who committed murder in Derry on Bloody Sunday.  

He may have a valid point, but he forgets those from Donegal and the rest of Ireland who gave their lives for the freedom of small nations.

These people came from both backgrounds in the Republic.  They were ordinary people who joined the British Army for a reason. People might still wonder why they would they be involved in something that had nothing to do with them. They were part of an army that was fighting against Germany and for small nations.

James Mc Clean has a point, but causing grief among many Irish families isn't very smart. Let's hope he plays well for Ireland and we can all move on from the story of Bloody Sunday.

My father, Paddy Harte, tried to address this issue and produced an Island of Ireland badge with the poppy and the green flag. It was respectful of both traditions on the island. 

It was done at a time of high tension in Northern Ireland and he brought both sides together in a unique way. Families could grieve their fallen dead and life would move on.

I have the greatest respect for James McClean but his actions are misplaced in today's world. He doesn't recognise the sacrifice given by the many Donegal families to secure the future of democracy on our island.

What happened on Bloody Sunday was purely murder. But we must separate the World War from the actions of the Parachute Regiment in Derry on that terrible day when decisions were made in London that affected many innocent lives in Derry.