God Save Our James McClean: A Look into the Curious Context of National Anthem Disengagement

James McClean has scandalised Britain’s right and honourable again. He has fauxtraged Little Englanders on social media and bewildered upstanding Middle England. Aye, this time he opted out of paying reverence to ‘God Save the Queen‘ and the Cross of St. George prior to a pre-season friendly for his club, West Bromwich Albion, in the USA last weekend.

Shocking, isn’t it? They should bring back hanging or something…

The gesture will no doubt have appeared culturally-alien to many on the eastern side of the Irish Sea for it is something that is oddly northern Irish (albeit not uniquely so), but that by no means excuses the vitriol and dog’s abuse that has since been launched McClean’s way from around the UK as a result. And let us just be clear; whilst he, as the anthem was set to commence, somewhat-awkwardly returned to the default 45-degree-angle stance relative to his re-positioned team-mates, he most certainly did not turn his back on the flag. (It is important to make that distinction considering the provocative and offensive connotations associated with purposely turning one’s back on someone or something else.)

Why, it must be wondered, did a team composed of a mix of players of various different nationalities collectively decide to turn to face the Cross of St. George anyway when such motion was not even in accordance with the convention of the ever-forward-facing English national football team during renditions of ‘God Save the Queen’ before their games? In fact, why the British national anthem was being played at all before a pre-season club friendly game is a puzzler in itself. One would have to assume it was simply a nod of respect to the visiting club in line with the general American tradition of patriotic anthem-playing before sporting events-cum-spectacles.

Anyway, back to the main subject; James McClean. So, why did he do what he did? It is crucial that we understand its context so that we can interpret it correctly and therefore discuss it with an empathy and comprehension very sorely lacking in current popular British discourse on the matter (barring a few noteworthy exceptions I have encountered in the form of the thoughtful offerings of Alexander Netherton, Brian Reade and Jonathan Liew in the conservative Telegraph, surprisingly).

The reasoning behind McClean’s gesture was very much rooted in that proud, old northern tradition of anthem disengagement. In the north of Ireland, national and cultural symbolism possesses a heightened or loaded sense of significance due to the region’s troubled past. Various symbols have assumed a contentious nature for the respective communities due to the fact these symbols represent the very essence of the clashing politico-cultural identities once in violent conflict. Certain symbols, by their very existence, were inextricably linked to the social lines of division. Unfortunately for ye patriotic West Brom fans, ‘God Save the Queen’ happens to be just one of those contentious symbols for members of the nationalist and republican communities in the north of Ireland.

In an article of his own on the latest hoo-ha to erupt over McClean, my first-cousin-once-removed and “nasty little man”, Jude Collins, wrote of anthem disengagement during his days of youth:

When I was a growing lad, they used to play ‘God Save The Queen’ after a film in the local cinema. Half the audience would stand stock still and half the audience would head for the exit, if necessary vaulting over rows of seats to do so. That practice of playing ‘God Save The Queen’ has been happily discontinued.

Whilst ‘God Save the Queen’ is no longer played in the local cinemas, the dirge remains a pervasive unionist feature of public life in the north of Ireland; as the national anthem of the UK, it is also the official anthem of the constituent northern statelet. Consequently, the practice by members of the other side of sincerely avoiding it has also endured.

Chris Baird and Niall McGinn are seen bowing their heads during a rendition of

Chris Baird (number 6) from Rasharkin and Niall McGinn (number 8) from Dungannon are seen bowing their heads (and near-squatting from awkwardness in a textbook display of psychological displacement, possibly wishing for the ground to open beneath them and eat them up in sparing compassion) during what must be an excruciating few-minutes rendition of “their” anthem before a Northern Ireland game. (Charles Mitchell [bhamilton82].)

Many English football fans may not be aware of it, but, like the Football Association, the Irish Football Association also play ‘God Save the Queen’ as their anthem before games and it is therefore common, if not expected, to see Northern Ireland players from Catholic or nationalist backgrounds bow out in identical fashion to how McClean bowed out last weekend. By and large, there is little fuss made over what is a well-established gesture. The players are respected by most and that is how it should be.

Such displays are not unique to the playing of ‘God Save the Queen’ either. Indeed, the Irish national anthem, ‘Amhrán na bhFiann‘, has also been played through similar and, believe it or not, survived. Sammy Morrow, a Protestant from Limavady was lining out for Derry City in the 2008 FAI Cup final against Bohemians at the RDS in Dublin; with the Irish anthem about to commence, as is protocol in football settings when the anthem is played, both teams turned sideways to face the Irish tricolour behind a goal at one end of the stadium. The only player not to turn – he stood out like a sore thumb – was Morrow. Instead, he remained standing quietly and out-of-sync facing towards us Derry fans in the main stand. He stood starkly at odds with the 21 other players in line with him, but, as an Ulster Protestant, he had every right to respectfully abstain from facing the flag and opt out of paying deference to an anthem with which he might not have felt entirely culturally comfortable. With the exception of a minority of fans in the crowd, no offence was taken and no outrage was warranted.

inpho_00520057-e1487963726388

The Northern Ireland team lined up as the Irish national anthem ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ plays before their game against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin in May of 2011. Warren Feeney (number 10) and Steven Davis (number 8) can be observed assuming stances suggestive of an unwillingness to be seen to be engaging with the traditional anthem protocol. (Inpho.)

Likewise, before Northern Ireland played the Republic of Ireland during the 2011 Carling Nations Cup in Dublin, Northern Ireland players Warren Feeney and Steven Davis – both from Ulster Protestant backgrounds – opted to assume stances during the playing of ‘Amhrán na bhFiann‘ – the anthem of their opponents – that suggested they did not wish to be seen to be engaging with the traditional anthem protocol. Feeney bowed his head towards the ground whilst Davis placed his hands on his hips, contrary to the usual practice of placing one’s hands behind their lower back  during the playing of an anthem. Nobody batted an eyelid; it wasn’t an anthem with which they identified or felt culturally comfortable, after all.

In his piece on McClean, Jude detailed another interesting occurrence of Irish anthem avoidance by a northerner. This one involved not just any old pleb, mind you. Rather, the very cream of northern society featured by absence. Yes – shock, horror – even the esteemed First Minister Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party has dabbled in the dark art of opting out. Jude outlined the scene:

The McKenna Cup Final was a Gaelic football game played in 2012 between Armagh and Tyrone. It was notable for the fact that First Minister Peter Robinson attended it. On the BBC website NI sports reporter Mark Sidebottom is reported as saying that Mr Robinson took his seat just after the throw-in. Thus avoiding the opportunity to stand for the Irish national anthem. Was that disrespectful? If James McClean had stayed in the dug-out until the end of the English national anthem, would that have been disrespectful?

And then, of course, there was the medal ceremony incident involving vocal Belfast-boxer Paddy Barnes at at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Barnes, from a nationalist background, had just won gold in his weight category. After having been awarded his medal on the podium, the unionist Ulster Banner was raised over the arena and the ‘Londonderry Air‘ began to play through the public-address system; the ‘Londonderry Air’ is the purportedly-neutral designated victory anthem for the Northern Ireland team at the Games. Nevertheless, Barnes bowed his head in a gesture of disengagement before the surprised Welsh bronze-medal-winning competitor to his left remarked inquisitively as to why, after having just won the gold medal, he was exhibiting such a posture during “his” anthem. Of course, ‘Amhrán na bhFiann‘ is Paddy Barnes’ national anthem; he replied to his fellow competitor assuredly, “That’s not my anthem”, thus prompting outraged melt-down amongst those of a unionist or loyalist persuasion who felt he was not being subservient enough for their liking.

The Barnes incident drew a greater level of consternation than might have been usual on account of the boxer’s outspokenness mid-display; it is evidently much easier for the community diametric to the outward gesture to tolerate disengagement when its expression is more passive than seemingly-challenging by its forthrightness. Nevertheless, non-participation in the anthem spectacle, of which the aforementioned cases are all classic examples, as well as the relatively bi-communally-tolerable or non-taboo status of the phenomenon in the north of Ireland, in comparison to how it is broadly interpreted and received elsewhere, is very much a social manifestation of the parity-of-esteem ethos and a progressive societal step above the base, destructive, regressive, anti-egalitarian and imperious culture of paranoia and vengeance that breeds supremacist-tinged practices such as flag protesting and emblem desecration.

On a societal level, the combination of gesture and its receipt is to say, roughly or symbolically, “you play your anthem and I will, rather than attack it or you for it, like I might have done in the past, simply respectfully disengage on the mutual understanding that that is OK with you”. That is parity of esteem at its purest; the idea of two once-violently-clashing and seemingly-mutually-exclusive cultures co-existing in acceptance of one another’s validity and right to exist whilst remaining true to themselves and refraining from imposing culturally upon one another.

I have comprehensively outlined McClean’s cultural background already in a piece regarding the poppy-related pseudo-controversy that all-too-inevitably envelopes him every November. Somehow, in spite of growing poverty in Britain and the already-grotesque gap between rich and poor growing ever-wider at a truly exponential rate, we are to believe that the British media’s reactionary cabal have nothing more worthwhile by which to be angered on these occasions. On this week’s occasion, McClean has been accused of hating Britain and England (and has even been told to leave). Where to start?…

To view last weekend’s gesture as a display of Anglophobic bitterness is to completely misinterpret it. McClean clearly looked to be in an uncomfortable situation upon realising what was about to commence, so no doubt thought quickly and did exactly what he has long seen other players from nationalist backgrounds do in the same situation; he disengaged. His disengagement should not have been seen as intentionally disrespectful for it was not an act of even mild quasi-iconoclasm. There was no booing or gesticulating in protest; he respectfully kept quiet with his eyes closed and his head down. The anthem played on uninterrupted and the flag remained visible and present for those who wished to demonstrate their reverence.

The gesture was ultimately rooted, not in bitterness or hate, but in a self-respecting fear of appearing subservient to a particular idea embodied by the symbolism concerned. James McClean evidently does not hate the English or British; he gets along fine with them every day of living in England. Likewise, he has no issues with his Northern Ireland-representing team-mates and gets on perfectly well with them. Disengaging from honouring particular state institutions or ideological paraphernalia does not equate to a rebuff of an entire nation of people, nor does living in a particular state necessitate that the dweller conforms and adheres to all the moral expectations and preferences of its mainstream orthodoxy.

Having been born and raised in the jurisdiction, McClean is more than entitled to work in the UK and, living within its law, to enjoy the benefits of that society, which include, we are told, the supposedly-cherished freedoms to express his convictions and to withhold his veneration (it is a liberal democracy, isn’t it?), especially considering he pays very handsomely back into the system in taxed income. And, yet, we have plenty of detractors bitterly arguing to deny him his entitlement. If contribution confers rights, then there is a logical hypocrisy and vacuousness to many of those simplistic arguments suggesting that McClean himself is a hypocrite to accept his wage whilst holding a particular unpopular stance and that he should conform to local expectations and preferences (whatever they may be) or clear off if unprepared to do that; he will already have paid more back into the system than most of us, including those scathingly attacking him, will over the course of our lives.

Accepting a wage within a particular society does not nullify any right to conscientiously abstain from participation in certain symbolic pursuits undertaken by that society, nor does it necessarily render one inconsistent and unprincipled if they do happen to abstain. If it did, then to take this line of argument to its elemental or logical conclusion by way of an example, no employee would have a moral right to, say, protest against or petition for an improvement in the conditions of his or her employment on the basis that he or she had signed away his or her right to dissent by accepting monetary return for his or her labour in the first place. Such idealist purism is not practical in social life and is an unreasonable principle or standard to impose absolutely upon all human relations and interactions.

McClean’s gesture stemmed from a mindful uneasiness with being seen to be exhibiting deference to ‘God Save the Queen’ for fear of it potentially being presumed tantamount to a submission to or an approval of a triumphalist British or unionist sentiment. It emanated from a vigilance over how a show of observance might be interpreted; such could very easily be mistaken by the uninformed (or, indeed, the malicious) for a display of subservience to the Ulster unionist ideology of the self-proclaimed “chosen people” that once ruled supreme and unchecked in Ireland’s north. In this context, his reaction was not at all surprising. It is only natural that an Irish nationalist would be instinctively reluctant to appear subservient to unionist symbolism; in a general way, he was culturally responding or reacting, as an Irish nationalist, to the perception of him or his community being imperiously told through recent history, “this is your anthem and you better revere it”, and instead declaring, “no it’s not, so I’m going to opt out”. To exhibit deference to the symbolism would perhaps have been thought of as a self-defeating act of symbolic subordination.

As Niall McGinn stated in 2009 of his and other nationalist-background players’ disengagement from renditions of ‘God Save the Queen’ when lining out for Northern Ireland:

Just put your head down and try to get through it…. Just keep it down. I mean you have boys like Michael O’Connor and Sammy Clingan who are Catholic boys from Belfast and they just keep their heads really low so as not to make a scene but also to show that as Catholics they must be respected.

Generally-speaking, the gesture is pure self-affirmation and is a silent assertion for respect of the self and of the nationalist identity, lest those fundamentally-cherished concepts be threatened by erroneous presumptions. On a purely socio-psychological level, perhaps it is indicative of a degree of cultural or communal insecurity or of a need for reassurance – such can be a typical by-product of one’s growing up in a society where defensiveness ensured survival and where there was an oppressive or over-riding sense that a significant portion of the majority population or culture might have wished harm or posed a threat to one’s cultural well-being – or maybe, at its most basic, it is a manifestation of no more or no less than communal pride and conscientious self-regard for one’s heritage. Maybe, and I am not excluding myself from this analysis, all displays of pride ultimately amount to a human means of seeking some sort of social approval or reassurance in one way or another, which is, of course, fine and only natural. Either way, though, the gesture of disengagement from the national anthem spectacle ought to be respected. In what sort of society are we living when persons are being ordered to pay deference to particular symbols or are being asked, by even writers in the mainstream press, to leave the society concerned on account of their alleged transgressions?

As I have suggested, the possible fear or anxiety related to appearing subservient is very naturally more pronounced in a divided society moving on from a conflict that involved elements of two “mutually exclusive” or incompatible sides variously attempting to violently out-balance, domineer or subjugate one another and, for nationalists in the north, ‘God Save the Queen’ remains a very real symbol and reminder of those who, not just in living memory, but also contemporaneously, gladly lord it over their community and who crudely and parochially perceive nationalists’ falling one step behind as constituting a progressive leap for them. Their yardstick for measuring their own success is perceived nationalist failure and weakness. If you are a nationalist who is secure enough in his or her identity to be able to overlook that, that is commendable, but I will defend the likes of James McClean if stepping above it is something over which he still has strong emotional and rational reservations, for obvious reasons. I will not hold him to blame for a reluctance to psychologically subjugate himself to a breathing ideology of supremacy. Why should he feel bad for it?

Many may not agree with the above interpretation of the national anthem spectacle, but different symbols have very different meanings for different people and, in the north of Ireland, many symbols were once literally matters of life and death. There is, of course, no need to go into a full-on history lesson on how the actions of the British army in Derry and elsewhere might have further coloured many inhabitants’ pretty raw view of British and English state symbolism – indeed, the Union flag was commonly referred to as the “Butcher’s Apron” in darker days – but when one grows up seeing tattered Union flags flying from lamp-posts next to Ulster Volunteer Force flags and the like, they understandably may find it difficult to erase such vivid and intimidating imagery from their memory. These are the indelible and interconnected symbols of the old domineering culture that long posed difficulty for the northern nationalist.

Whilst this tradition of anthem disengagement is a peculiarly northern Irish phenomenon, it has to be said it is not unique to the region. In the international sporting context, anthem-playing is inevitably frequent and public. Consequently, the arena performs as visible and effective a role as an indicator of complex and unresolved national or ethno-cultural identity issues within particular societies at large as any other. When Arab or Palestinian citizens of Israel line out for the Israel national football team under the shadow of the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict, they will often appear distinguishable by their non-participatory anthem postures. Abbas Suan, Walid Badir and Beram Kayal (Israel’s number 7 in the video below) are just a few players who have quietly stood through Israel’s Judeo-centric national anthem, ‘Hatikvah‘, with heads firmly bowed towards the ground in disengagement on each occasion they have played international football for Israel.

Right-wing commentators in Israel have criticised these minority group members of the team for their refusal to participate. Silence is their voice within a unilateral and assertedly-homogeneous society that devotes to them rarely positive attention, if they are afforded attention at all. Elsewhere in the fragile post-conflict realm, anthem dissenters have been subjected to worse than mere criticism. Adem Ljajić, an ethnic Bosniak Muslim, was suspended by the Football Association of Serbia for having opted out of singing the Serbian national anthem before a game 2012. Serbia’s manager at the time, Siniša Mihajlović, enforced a policy demanding that his players should sing the anthem. As a result, Ljajić didn’t play for Serbia again until after the tenure of Mihajlović came to an end in February of 2014.

It is to his great shame that Tony Pulis, James McClean’s manager at West Brom, has revealed himself to be of a similar illiberal and authoritarian school of thought. Of the McClean incident, Pulis stated:

He’s got to turn towards the flag like everybody else has…. Obviously there has been a stigma around him and he doesn’t need to start that up again.

It is admittedly unlikely the peculiar circumstances from which the gesture transpired will ever arise again, unless West Brom qualify for a cup final whilst McClean is in their starting line-up, but such an obligation as that outlined by the victim-blaming Pulis would be completely out-of-order in any other place of work. If what Pulis said is actually anything other than mere rhetoric to appease the outraged and, if enforced upon McClean and it had a detrimental effect upon his employment through mistreatment, reprimanding or similar on account of his conscientious objection, I submit that McClean would have a credible case for breach of his rights under equality and employment law. The Human Rights and Equality Acts apply in the workplace too. If my employer was instructing me in such a dictatorial manner, I would be flabbergasted. It would be utterly inappropriate, especially as it would bear no relation to my pre-agreed job role (not that the signing of a contract necessarily washes away all rights an employee might otherwise enjoy anyway).

As for the all-too-familiar commotion in general, as I have said – and it is worth repeating – it is really nothing more than just another tiresome pseudo-controversy. Maybe tolerant Albion needs to have a contemplative look at itself in the mirror.

The above piece was also published on Back Page Football.

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61 comments

  1. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Some reasonable points but have you forgotton James McClean observed protocol surrounding British anthem impeccably whilst playing for Wigan in the 2013 community shield at wembley? If his beliefs are so strong why would he observe protocol then but not whilst playing for WBA? WBA are an english club, they were representing England, James McClean was de facto representing England. He cant take 1 stance for a cup final when theres a win bonus and a medal and another for a meaningless friendly

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    1. Thanks for your reply, Philip.

      I hadn’t seen the 2013 Community Shield anthem ceremony, so I’m not sure how James dealt with it. Is there decent-quality video footage available or could you furnish me with some further details as to how he observed protocol impeccably?

      Even if he did observe it on that occasion, I don’t think it would necessarily be indicative of double standards. It’s not as if his potential medal or bonus would have been dependent on an observance of the anthem protocol, thereby inducing him to forsake his convictions. His principles aren’t that flaky! If he did indeed observe the anthem, it’s entirely possible he felt more pressure on that occasion for whatever reason and later wanted to right his “wrong”, so to speak. If so, that’s not an indictment of him; he’s still fully entitled to opt out of such public spectacles thereafter if that is his personal preference.

      This is the best footage I can find:

      Looking very closely, all Wigan players appear to remain facing forward in what I suppose you could call the default position (it’s the position in which they’d be standing regardless of whether an anthem was playing or not), as far as I can make out from that footage anyway, so it’s not as if James would have been visibly or obviously distinguished by opting out through facing an alternate direction. An alternate angle did not exist or come into play with the effect of emphasising or pronouncing any gesture of James’ as the other players had not moved away from the default direction. Also, the fourth player across from the left for Wigan looks light-haired and like he’s got his head firmly bowed. My guess is that’s James McClean, but correct me if wrong.

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    2. I’m a WBA fan and he is a decent enough player in that he tries however when you are working /living in the country that pays your wages then whatever your views of said country you abeid /respect customs etc.
      He just takes the piss. I used to have a bit of sympathy, but now he’s no better than a iraqi for example coming to GB or ROI and doing similar thing. Think about it and to see how you would react. Go on be honest. James Mclean I’ve lost all respect. Please leave my club and my country. God save the Queen. And even I hate the cow.

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      1. If you’d read the piece in its entirety, you would have encountered a few lines in relation to Sammy Morrow opting out of observance of the Irish national anthem at an FAI Cup final in Dublin a few years ago whilst playing for Derry City in the League of Ireland. I accepted his right to opt out and respected his cultural “hang-up”, discomfort or whatever you wish you call it. It was my anthem and the anthem of whoever else identified with it – not his – so why should he be expected to observe it if he didn’t want to? I was and am happy to tolerate others’ identities. Clearly, you’re not.

        By the way, the anthem thing happened in the US; not the UK. Also, McClean was born, grew up and has always worked in the UK. He’s fully entitled to participate in its society or institutions and to hold whatever views he wants whilst he does that. His opting out of the anthem was simply an act of non-observance and he did that quietly and respectfully without protestation or gesticulation. Watch Northern Ireland’s game against Wales on Saturday and you’ll see goalkeeper Michael McGovern (and maybe a few other nationalist-background players like Chris Baird, Niall McGinn, Connor McLaughlin or Shane Ferguson, if they start) do the very same without any issue whatsoever.

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  2. GerryCasey1968 · · Reply

    Excellent article Daniel.

    As for comment from Phil, WBA were representing nobody but themselves. It was a pre season friendly in US.

    James stance no different than that took by Sammy Morrow of League of Ireland football team Derry City in 2008 FAI cup final.

    Though the hysteria, sectarian and racist abuse and death threats created by some towards James is totally different.

    That said those loudest in criticising James remain strangely silent at this abuse. Apparently not facing a flag is a bigger crime!

    The biggest disrespect you can show to any flag or anthem is to try to force people to respect it or face it etc

    Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    The ways you want to interpret a stance are subjective but if youre saying that at wembley that was the default position it would be the same thing to say facing the flag during the anthem would also be the default position. If he’d faced the flag head bowed there would be no problem. The Morrow incident is different because he wasn’t living in the Republic of Ireland or representing a team from the Republic of Ireland. Also in the context of the troubles in Ireland people do opt for which flag they want to represent. Even with that in mind you could simply say yes Morrow was disrespectful but so was James McClean. If facing the anthem at wembley was auch a problem he could have declared himself unfit. He is also representing an English football team, I’m sorry but whether he likes it or not thats just a fact. Besides all of that I just thought his actions were in bad taste and against the spirit of compromise, reconciliation and friendship that have developed between the UK and Ireland. There are customs and practices you should adhere to when you live abroad and the fact he chose to represent an English football club means facing the anthem from time to time is one of them. To take one stance in a final and another in a friendly means he’s compromised. The abuse he has received is completely out of order but he’s not doing himself any favours.

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    1. By default direction, I mean the direction towards which all football teams customarily stand after they have walked out on to a pitch and before anthems are played, they shake hands and the game commences. They invariably both face forward towards pitch-side rather than towards a goal-end. In Wembley, both teams remained facing pitch-side (thus, James would have been facing this direction anyway whether he had disengaged or not, so his disengagement gesture – mare bowing rather than returning to default and bowing – would not have been as pronounced), whereas, in the US, the West Brom players collectively switched from facing pitch-side to facing towards a goal-end where the flag was apparently positioned. Thus, they had moved away from the default position and James stood out and distinguished himself in returning to it.

      Not sure why you insist the Morrow incident is different. Morrow was playing for a League of Ireland team and opted out of observing the Irish anthem/tricolour, contrary to protocol. You could just as easily argue that he knew what he was potentially signing up to when he joined a League of Ireland club; ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ is played at the cup final every year.

      I don’t accept that James is compromised as I’m not convinced he did take one stance in the Community Shield but a different one in last weekend’s friendly. I have no reason to believe that he did. (And even if he did, I still don’t think it morally compromises him, as explained above.) In fact, the video evidence I presented has me thinking he was indeed consistent and respectfully bowed out on both occasions. Why are you so certain he observed the anthem in line with protocol at Wembley?

      He might play for an English football team, but that doesn’t negate his entitlement to his personal convictions. There’s not some English orthodoxy to which he has to conform by virtue of playing in England, is there? What sort of society is one that morally enforces reverence of a flag? What other customs and practices must he adhere to so as to allow him to continue his period of residence in England?

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      1. Philip Mallon · ·

        Hi again, sorry for another post but I will be offline travelling for next 24 hrs and am in a different time zone….My main issue and point about the whole affair is that the root of the problem is patriotism. McCleans decision not to follow custom and face the flag was rooted in patriotism, the over the top and sectarian reactions to it was rooted in patriotism. The people defending McClean all had arguments that also seemed to be rooted in patriotism. Emotional abstract patriotism. Thats the problem with patriotism, it provokes illogical, emotional responses and makes people do illogical, emotional things. It doesn’t surprise me that most of the people who are so outraged by his act and by the responses seem to be from Ulster, or are involved with republican or unionist movements. The most patriotic region in the 2 islands. I am from Dublin, where I was brought up was generally patriotic but nothing like that in Ulster. I am an admirer of Sean O’Casey’s view on patriotism, also a Dubliner but ran out of the country at the time for being unpatriotic!! A couple of declared Republicans on twitter have basically accused me of being a unionist over past few days. Laughable and ridiculous emotional statements

        Now, Ireland and the UK have had their troubles, we all know that, but its predominantly in the past, particularly British army massacres and IRA bombings. People on both sides must move on, they must look to the future and not to the past. They must live in the now and make compromises if they want to get on. We can go on forever and ever harking back to numerous historical incidents on both sides but we won’t get anywhere. If an Englishman such as Chris Waddle or Joey Barton had refused to respect anthem protocol with the French anthem because their ancestors were killed by Napoleon they would be rightly ridiculed and derided. When English football fans constantly refer to world wars at football tournaments they are rightly ridiculed and derided for being obsessed with past events. Yet when James McClean refuses to follow anthem protocol when representing an English football club playing abroad because of historical issues he is ‘standing up for his beliefs’. That is unbelievably hypocritical and the fact he did observe anthem protocol with no protest at wembley playing for Wigan in 2013 makes it even worse. In fact it makes it looks like his beliefs don’t matter when theres a win bonus or medal to be won.

        James McClean makes a good living from England in the year 2015 and has done since he moved there. The country is good to him, I would imagine people in the north east and north west of England have been good to him and also very tolerant generally of his beliefs. He’s an Ulster catholic who doesn’t believe in the monarchy. That is fine, no problem. But he also represents an English football club, the national anthem of England in 2015 is GSTQ. Yes it represents a history but it also represents the present. An England in the present day that is good to him. From time to time he will have to follow custom & practice by adhering to anthem protocol, that is just a compromise he must make in the spirit of the relationship between the 2 countries generally. To disrespect it is being disrespectful of the country and people who have treated him well whilst living there and if he has such a big issue regarding it he should abstain from openly disrespecting it and declare himself unfit when the team play a match when the anthem is played.

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      2. Don’t apologise; your contributions are more than welcome. I thought you were travelling though? Where have you found all that time to be bombarding me with tweets?!

        I’m not so sure it is rooted in raw, emotional patriotism. It’s a fairly simplistic analysis to suggest McClean is little more than a blindly emotional automaton to patriotism. I suggest the gesture was rooted in a self-respecting and rational fear of appearing subservient to a domineering, imperial or supremacist ideology that still happens to live and breathe in the north of Ireland today, as well as further afield (see Cody Lachey’s unsettling bile in this very section); the act was rooted very much in the present rather than in “historical issues”. If you want to simplistically describe that rather complex post-conflict frame of mind, you are entitled to do that, but I don’t see it as moving the discussion forward.

        I’ve been defending McClean – and I do cherish the bond with my nation, or where I was born and raised – but you surely don’t think everything I’ve written above is illogical and grounded in patriotism by virtue of that, do you? That would be exceptionally dismissive. What is it I have said that strikes you as illogical? I’m very happy to question things done by Ireland, Irish people and in Ireland’s name; see other critical pieces I’ve written. I’d like to think my positive sentiment for Ireland doesn’t cloud my ability to do that lucidly and effectively.

        The outrage wasn’t particular to the north or to those of a less liberal unionist or loyalist persuasion; the populist reaction across Britain was to condemn. Patriotism/nationalism is stoked when it senses threat or challenge; that’s why, historically and contemporaneously, the north of Ireland appears to be the most patriotic/nationalist region in these islands, but stoke patriotism/nationalism elsewhere and you’ll soon see its more extreme manifestations are not unique to the north of Ireland.

        Dissent, critique and diversity of thought/opinion are very valuable – nay, essential – elements of any healthy, functional society, which is why your opinion is welcome. I find your opinion unorthodox, but that’s good. People may not be able to get their heads around it, but you shouldn’t be belittled by being pejoratively referred to as a “unionist” with the intention of insulting you or shutting down your argument. The worst and most dangerous thing any society can do is to allow itself to be blindly and uncritically led by ideology. Criticism, scepticism and independent thought all keep authority in check. They help stave off possible abuse and corruption. But that is why McClean’s dissent was also something to admire and protect. He didn’t blindly follow; don’t you admire that? You say he should have revered the flag unquestioningly so as not to raise a stir? No way; that would be just offensively servile and self-defeating to me. But, hey, we’re different people. If order and conformity to authority is what floats your boat…

        Tell me; in what exactly is the expectation to pay reverence to a flag rooted if not patriotism? You condemn purported patriotism yet you expect McClean to have conformed to its unreasonable demands?

        You say people “must live in the now and make compromises if they want to get on”, but I suggest that this respectful gesture and a tolerance of it is very much the compromise of the present. It’s the embodiment of the idea of parity of esteem (the bed-rock of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement) and is a progressive step on from the regressive and base culture from which we see flag desecration and the like emanate.

        And you’re still peddling the line that he observed protocol impeccably prior to the 2013 Community Shield final, but I have produced video evidence that would appear to refute that claim. You have produced nothing to corroborate your position besides repeating it. His gesture last weekend wasn’t a protest anyway; it was a respectful opting out or abstaining from participation in a celebration of particular state symbols.

        England is good to McClean, sure, but that doesn’t nullify any right he has to the protection of his own personal convictions nor does it mean he has to submit to populist will and forsake his independence as a free man living within the law and fulfilling his contractual obligations (that also happen to be subject to governing employment law). He is not just representing West Brom; he is also representing himself. He returns his own good will in ways other than revering particular loaded or contentious state symbols (he pays tax, offers his footballing services to his club and also does a lot of charity work); revering state symbolism is not the only means by which a dweller can demonstrate appreciation to his host country. You might have missed the memo, but England is still a constituent country of a long-established liberal democracy, last I heard anyway. To opt out of anthem observance simply is not to disrespect it, nor is it to disrespect the country concerned and its people; you’re simply reading a meaning into the gesture without foundation in order to suit your own narrative. You’re viewing things in very black-and-white or absolutist terms (“he opted out of celebrating the flag and anthem; therefore, he has disrespected and must hate the country/people”) and making a very unfair and unwarranted assumption. To force someone into doing something with which they are culturally uncomfortable is simply downright fascistic and authoritarian, whether you like those descriptions or not; those ideologies or values are supposedly distinctly non-British.

        Nothing massively insightful, but effective and concise; I think Barry McElduff’s comment on the matter is worth repeating:

        “James McClean is true and loyal to his own identity, upbringing and beliefs. I don’t think he’s trying to make a name for himself on these matters. He deals with a lot of situations which challenge his identity.”

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  4. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Sorry just to add. Morrow’s act was disrespectful, yes 100% but he wasn’t compromised by his situation. James McClean also disrespectful but is compromised. He needs to be consistent with beliefs or his argument wouldn’t stand up in any human rights court.

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    1. I don’t observe the alleged inconsistency myself. Either way though, he’d still, as an employee, be entitled to have his personal beliefs respected, whether their manifestation appears inconsistent to you or not. Not that it’s relevant to his case specifically, but beliefs don’t even have to be static in order to prove that they might be genuinely held. If he was able to argue that he was mistreated/reprimanded at work because of his gesture or that it had had a detrimental impact upon his employment, he’d have a case, in my opinion, irrespective of what he might ever have done before in similar circumstances.

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      1. Philip Mallon · ·

        Garbled legal jargon Daniel.

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      2. You suggested that he wouldn’t be entertained in court. I submit that he would have a case if he was to be mistreated on account of a preference to opt out of a particular political spectacle due to his personal beliefs, whatever they might be at a particular point in time, irrespective of what you might think they were, or what they might have been, at a previous point in time. That’s not jargon; it’s well-established principle in employment law.

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  5. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Nothing morally forces him to do it but if he makes a choice to represent an English football club I think he’s got to make compromises, he can’t just act as he pleases. Why stop at not turning to the flag? Why not refuse to accept a medal from royal box or refuse to shake a royals hand before a final? He isnt forced to believe in anything but respecting custom and practice whilst representing an English football team is just something he needs to put up with in spirit of compromise. The plus side is he earns a great living for himseld and probably his family and England as a country is good to him now in 2015, its not as if people are being killed on streets of Derry today. That was over 40 years ago. He’s reaping the benefits of what England offers now but won’t follow custom and practice for 2 minutes because of beliefs linked to an event that happened long before he was born. If everyone in NI dug their heals in like that people would still be killing each other. Many muslim players declare themselves unfit to play because of their beliefs around ramadan, maybe James McCleam should keep his dignity and do the same anytime he must face GSTQ rather than openly disrespect it.

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    1. If I’m reading you correctly, rather than saying he has to do this and that, you’re saying, like Ken was on Twitter (https://twitter.com/kenearlys/status/623118397300211712), that he’s entitled to do what he likes but accusing him of hypocrisy in this.

      When he chooses to join an English football club, he signs a contract that obliges him to play football in return for payment. It doesn’t oblige him to make political statements, gestures or compromises contrary to his personal constitution. That contractual relationship is further governed and protected by employment law. In effect, his personal convictions and his right to hold them without prejudice are protected, in spite of what his contract may or may not purportedly oblige him to do. Otherwise, he can act as he pleases within the law.

      I fear you still misinterpret his gesture as a display of Anglophobic bitterness. It wasn’t. As you’ll grasp from Niall McGinn’s comment and the text in my piece surrounding that, his gesture was rooted in a self-respecting fear of appearing subservient to what still (not forty years ago) happens to be vivid symbol of supremacy in the north. It was a post-conflict assertion for respect of the self, as I’ve said, very much rooted in the parity-of-esteem idea. Obviously all humans interpret symbolism differently, but I and, I would imagine, most others feel there’s something *particularly* symbolic or “loaded” about what a flag or anthem can represent; receiving a medal from a royal box or whatever simply does not possess the same cultural connotations, whether you wish to frame it as a valid analogy or not.

      On the “spirit of compromise”; peace and reconciliation is nothing if it is forced. You can’t patronisingly impose compromise from without. It has to come from within when all parties concerned are ready for it. Evidently, that is not so yet given there remain many residual loose ends, despite there being a democratic blueprint there for the satisfaction of the political will of both communities; state collusion and historical enquiries are glaring examples of issues outstanding. Eamonn McCann makes some pertinent points on that grand old moral cause of (forced) reconciliation here:

      We can reconcile ourselves, thank you very much. 🙂

      That’s the point though; the gesture (and it is a common one in the north) is the very opposite of people digging their heels in and killing one another. It is a progressive step on from the base practice of flag desecration that we so often witness around Eleventh Night. The gesture is to say, “you play your anthem and I will, rather than attack you for it, like might have happened in the past, simply respectfully disengage”. That is parity of esteem at its purest; the idea of two once-clashing cultures co-existing in acceptance of one another whilst remaining true to themselves and not culturally imposing upon one another. There’s your compromise for you.

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      1. Philip Mallon · ·

        But as i said in tweets to you, you keep comparing his actions to Morrow, Robinson and others who are confirmed bigots. They’re action proves that. Simply by comparing him to them is effectively calling him a bigot! Why not point to Mandela, locked up in jail for quarter of a century and respected Afrikaans anthems, Adams & McGuinnes -met royals, respected anthems, the queen herself in Ireland when a suppossed line was drawn in the sand. Why not compare him to Carl Frampton, George Best, Barry McGuigan, Wayne McCullough, Johnny Carey, Eddie Irvine, Martin O’Neill, Neil Lennon, Fergal Sharkey, Jimmy Hooli?? People who were above all the silly patriotic nonsense for the greater good. Genuinely enlightened people who are respected by both sides of the community because of their progressive outlook. Your perspective is the opposite of all that. Regressively looking to the dark elements of the past, nit picking over legal rights. Its not a legal issue, its a social issue.

        I am saying he and people supporting him are hypocritical but not in the same way as Ken. Im saying people always rightly criticise the likes of English fans for their constant war and historical references, yet when McCleans actions are rooted in historical events people say it his ‘strong beliefs’.

        Even your comment that ‘we’ can reconcile ourselves suggests an insular outlook. Who is ‘we’ that the likes of I am not? Are we not all Irish?

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      2. Stephen Madden · ·

        Phillip morrow,I don’t know what country you now live in but do you feel obliged to stand for their national anthem? Your obviously not from the occupied 6 counties and have never felt at first hand the butt of a British soldiers gun or seen your friends die!! Yes of course we have moved on but that doesn’t mean we should forget either!! You mentioned séan o casey being someone you looked up to,do you wanna forget what his and the brave men like him fought for? I’m sure if James mc clean could make a living playing football in his home town he would,it just so happens that the best place to play football is in England,just like the bricklayer or joiner going there for work doesn’t mean they have to stand for the national anthem of that country!!

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      3. Philip; I was simply providing context. Besides, I don’t know from where you’ve gotten the impression that the likes of Sammy Morrow, Niall McGinn and Chris Baird are “confirmed bigots”. They’re tolerant of the “other” identity and self-respecting of their own; nothing wrong with that. Why not you tolerate them in return?

        What Mandela did was admirable, sure. I’ve not suggested it wasn’t. If certain individuals are prepared to overlook symbolic baggage, that’s great; good for them. However, if it’s still something with which some other people in northern society tend to struggle – and the significance of symbols in northern society cannot be downplayed – that’s a perfectly rational position. Clearly, there are still residual issues there, so maybe it’s worth people sitting down and talking about it. We can’t force people to rid themselves of rational fears or concerns they may have because “they must”. Nor can you just dismiss the concept of identity and its relevance to and bearing upon the north of Ireland as “silly patriotic nonsense”. You can’t just ignore reality and pretend something will happen because you say it should. Appreciating reality means pinpointing “darker elements”, acknowledging them, talking about them and working something out. If there’s an issue with McClean’s gesture, it’s far more productive and constructive to try and understand it (so that we can look into what society can do to ensure it does not happen again or so that we can all be reassured that nobody is being wronged or insulted) than to condemn, moralise and pontificate. The former is progressive whilst the latter just breeds further animus and stalemate.

        You name-check a few people, but didn’t poster-boy-for-peace-and-reconciliation Rory McIlroy once throw an Irish tricolour to the floor after winning the US Open?:

        It doesn’t bother me and I only mention it because there an interesting parallel, but someone unreasonably tried to foist their politics upon him and he said “no”, like McClean. He had every right to dispense of the tricolour if he didn’t want to carry it along with the baggage of what it might have meant to him at that particular time. If he’s happy to carry it in future for whatever reason, fair play. It doesn’t automatically render his former position wrong or invalid. He’s from a privileged background very different to the one which McClean experienced growing up in Creggan. The establishment has always been very good to McIlroy, since birth, so it’s no surprise he’s happy to go along with it without feeling too much like he’d be forsaking his background, integrity and convictions.

        Shaking someone’s hand can be a gesture of good will between equals whereas observing a particular flag or anthem might possess different social connotations; more specifically, connotations of subservience. It all depends on how people interpret or frame particular social gestures; everyone does it differently.

        Nitpicking over legal rights? Do you think legal rights aren’t important or what is your point exactly? McClean’s gesture is both morally and legally justifiable, justified and protected, as far as I’m concerned.

        When I said “we”, I was referring to northerners; northerners are constantly being told by patronising Brits and southerners that they need to reconcile themselves. Cross-community relations within the north are a very different beast to present international Irish-British relations. That’s not insular; it’s simply a self-respecting rejection of condesending nonsense from the likes of David Cameron and Enda Kenny.

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  6. Cody Lachey · · Reply

    Hi whom it may concern,

    Im contacting you today reference that fucking vile scumbag “footballer” James McClean my name is Cody Lachey I made worldwide news in 2012 and 2013 for allegedly sending death threats and pictures of live Bullets to Mcclean and his family and for also allegedly saying he shot be dead and his body dragged pasted the cenotaph in London etc ….

    McClean is talentless anti-English war mongering, anti-fascist I.R.A supporting scumbag prick hates our country and our queen and our history but happy to “earn” the Queens pound to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds paying tax to the British government which then indirectly funds the best army in the world the British army he’s a hypocrite of the highest order I fucking detest him I hope he drops dead or someone ends his career or worse ….. He only remains here because he wouldn’t earn a fraction what he “earns” here rather than Ireland McClean is a dirty fucking Republican anti-fascist prick he’s better known for disrespecting our great country and our fallen heroes than he is for anything he does on the football pitch he should fuck off and sign for the I.R.A supporting scumbags at Celtic football club or even better fuck off back to Ireland he’s everything that’s wrong with Ireland hes brain dead thick as pig shit typical thick Irish lad brainwashed over the history of his shitty country the bloody Sunday massacre was one of the greatest days in the history of the British army and the parachute regiment armed or unarmed they deserved to die I.R.A supporting scumbags they were.

    Inside every Irishman, woman and child is a frustrated ENGLISH man trying to get out the Irish are jealous of this fine country the silly Republicans in Ireland love England most of the fuckers support Manchester united yet most have never been to Manchester typical thick Irish we are simply the superior country the Irish envy the English in every way I’m a proud former soldier and proud fascist fuck the Irish Republicans and the I.R.A and Sinn Fein James McClean is as bad as a Muslim extremist I got he gets wiped out and his career ended and fucked off back to Ireland with his tail between his legs the only people who think like James McClean are the thick bastards in Ireland and the Republican scumbags at Celtic football club James McClean should wear a poppy and bow down to our national anthem and our traditions and our beliefs or he should be deported back to Ireland il probably get death threats from the scumbags in Ireland but if I wanted to hear from an arsehole …… I’d fart

    Did you see what rock and roll superstar Liam Gallagher (formerly of legendary Manchester band Oasis) said about James McClean on twitter ? He even put a statement out about he was a bit politically correct but got his point across us Mancs stick together I have a huge respect for Liam Gallagher and his stance on James McClean.

    RULE BRITANNIA GOD SAVE THE QUEEN .

    Best wishes.

    Cody.
    07487506990
    @CodyDoorman1

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    1. …And breathe. Thanks for your considered contribution, Cody. With that repellent exhibition, I think you’ve just aptly demonstrated, perhaps better than I could possibly ever have tried to explain in the above piece, exactly the type of unsavoury imperial-supremacist ideology that might reinforce an Irish nationalist’s hesitancy over performing an act that could potentially be interpreted as an act of subservience to the particular symbolism with which that ideology is associated. Well done and be sure to keep up your good work now…

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      1. lol u mad nigger lover

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  7. Anonymous · · Reply

    Silly Slave tool, away and feck.

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  8. Cody Lachey · · Reply

    It really does make my blood boil the whole James McClean saga as many of you may or not know I was arrested in 2012 and 2013 for allegedly sending death threats and pictures of live bullets to that scumbag James McClean and his familyaswell as allegedly saying he should be shot dead and his body dragged past the cenotaph after he refused to wear a poppy to remember our fallen heroes but the thick Republican scumbags do well to remember that the poppy also represents 50,000 plus fighting Irish who gave there tomorrow for our today so James McClean also disrespected his own country’s fallen heroes McClean is a war mongering anti- fascist Republican scumbag he’s also a vile hypocrite of the highest order he hates us ENGLISH and refuses to wear the poppy and hates our Queen and Her Majesty’s forces yet he’s quite happy to “Earn” the Queens pound to the tune of tens of thousands of pounds a week in doing so he will pay a shed load of tax to the BRITISH government which then indirectly funds the Best army in the world the BRITISH army ha-ha you really couldn’t write it.

    McClean should fuck off back to Ireland but he won’t the only reason that vile scum bag McClean remains here is because the truth of the matter is James McClean wouldn’t earn a fraction of what he earns here compared to what he would in the Irish leagues he’s a fucking hypocrite I hope someone snaps his legs or worse he’s a talentless prick hes better known for what he does off the pitch than on it and the people of northern Ireland do well to remember that they issued death threats to James McClean when he ABANDONED playing for N.I to jump ship to play for the republic of Ireland you really couldn’t write it I’m a former member of her Majesty’s forces and the poppy should be worn with pride it represents every English, scottish, Welsh, northern Irish and Irish man and woman who paid the ultimate sacrifice so please talentless pricks like McClean could play football here, the Irish are the thickest people on earth they hate us Brits but love watching our football with most Irish supporting teams like Manchester united even though half of the idiots have never been to England inside every thick Irish man, woman and child is a frustrated English man trying to get out.

    James McClean represents everything that is wrong with the Irish today there all a bunch of thick easter Lilly wearing Republican I.R.A supporting scumbags who support a bunch of terrorists who killed innocent men, women and children thankfully one of the greatest day in the history of our British Forces was the bloody Sunday massacre, James McClean should fuck off upto Scotland and play for the I.R.A supporting scumbags Celtic.

    Rule Brittania
    No surrender.

    Cody Lachey
    @codydoorman1

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    1. Anonymous · · Reply

      Whew.

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  9. Paul Jones · · Reply

    Wow, never read as much hateful bike in my life. Cody, you are the reason the Irish, Cypriots and others who we planted our bases on hate us. The Queen and her German family surely must love you.

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  10. Cody Lachey = absolute bellend
    No doubts an EDL tattoo’d bald fat wanker. Wearing the butchers apron on “Olidays” and thinks the world loves the English. Moron

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  11. Cody Lachey, hates a lot of things and after reading his comments on this blog I see he also hates the English language.

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  12. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Serious bile coming from Mr Lachey there, more evidence on the evils of patriotism. I’ve been getting some stick on twitter by some, told I have Unionist/Imperialist sympathies. Couldnt be further from the truth. I am essentially a republican but not the brand of wild patriotic republicanism that has developed in Ireland over past 100 years, I would be leaning towards a more secular, liberal brand of republicanism like that in France. More moderate.

    As you can see above and through twitter correspondance with Daniel I have been saying McClean should have respected the anthem but to get my view across clearly I’m gonna provide a hypothetical situation, which is as follows:

    John Smith is a journeyman English footballer from Warrington. He has an opportunity to move to Dublin and play for Shamrock Rovers on a full time contract. He decides to take it and moves to Dublin. John’s background in Warrington is a normal working class upbringing, some mates are military servicemen and he knows people in his community that were badly affected by the IRA bombing in 1993. That always left a bad image of the Irish tricolour for him and the community he was brought up in, the symbolism of it is something he can’t stand and is totally against his beliefs but he’s willing to move to Dublin and get on with things at Rovers even though there will many waving tricolours because he needs a contract.

    Many people in Ireland and within the Rovers support have a different perspective to John. They view the Warrington bombing as terrible but an act of terrorism, not an act of state sponsored violence and hence not something to hold against Ireland in general. Rovers make it to the FAI cup final and John realises when players are informed that the correct protocol during the anthem is to turn and face the Irish flag. John has problem with this. He thinks “should I declare myself unfit?” “No, I have a right not to face the flag as it is not my flag and it stands for everything that is against my beliefs”.

    So thats the stance he takes, he refuses to face the flag. Many in the stadium are shocked, the commentators mention it on TV, he’s booed by many whilst on the ball. In the aftermath some support his right, especially those on the right wing in England and the unionist community in Northern Ireland but hardline Republicans in Ireland are absolutely appalled by it and insist his contract must be torn up and sent back to England.

    In this situation It would be my opinion that John Smith should have put personal beliefs aside, faced the flag and followed the rules of the country he was living in and the team he was representing to respect the perspective which was different to his own but generally held by many, including his employers, team mates and supporters. That would be the thing to do in the spirit of compromise in the the context of the political problems the two countries have had historically. Yes it was most likely his legal right to abstain from facing it but not in the spirit of compromise and reconciliation and certainly not doing himself any favours whilst living in Dublin

    I believe James McClean should have done the same thing as the hypothetical John Smith. He may have been in the USA but I don’t think that makes a difference because whether he likes it or not he was representing an English football team. If Rovers get into Europe and the anthem is played before a European tie, John should do the same. Face the flag and keep the peace.

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    1. Lachey’s guff above is indeed shockingly racist bile, but you’re contradictorily pandering to the very same patriotism you condemn as you simultaneously advance the idea that McClean should have conformed to patriotism’s unreasonable demands and expectations. You say you’re a republican but I’ve sensed very little liberal republican sentiment in your communications with me. I don’t mean it as an insult, but you’ve been promoting blind and unquestioning servility to populist or majoritarian authority. That’s the complete antithesis of the republican ideal; it’s bordering on fascistic, to be honest.

      Secularism is not the same thing as intolerance of religion/nationalism/identity politics or of what you seemingly view as illogical/irrational. I’m basing this purely on our engagements to date, but your position appears grounded more in the latter than the former; intolerance. Secularism is about respecting all those various different contrasting strands and ensuring they can co-exist and co-operate within a particular society without prejudice. I’m also a constitutional civic/secular republican in the mould of Tone (I would like to think) and am uneasy with the official pursuance of more ethnic or sectarian brands of Irish republicanism; that only drives Ireland away from realising a civic all-island republic for all, be they Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Irish, Gaelic, British, Ulster-Scots, Polish, Nigerian, Chinese or whatever.

      Tone was a proud Irish republican of Anglo-Irish origin; he had no time for ethnic nationalism or divisions and indeed had no cultural connection with the Gaelic tradition and ideal encouraged (with the unfortunate consequence of internal ethnic division) by later generations of Irish republicans. I’m very proud of my Gaelic heritage, but I don’t necessarily think Ireland should be imagined solely through the idea of the Gael. The unilateral imagining of Ireland as Catholic and Gaelic has proved detrimental to internal and cross-island relations between those people imagined as “authentically Irish” and the Irish Protestants, British-identifying Irish, Ulster-Scots and Angles also sharing the island. Ethnicity, its ideals and traditions, can be celebrated, sure, but if a united republic is to be achieved, it ought to preferably be either a pluralistic or private pursuit rather than a matter of the state adopting and officially or quasi-officially promoting just one ethnicity as the authentically Irish one.

      All the aforementioned ethnicities, identities and traditions can be civically Irish. Perhaps practically realising that would also entail the adoption of new state symbolism; it’s an idea to which I’m opening up more and more in the interests of forward-looking compromise as I’m not convinced northern unionists can ever be reconciled with symbols like the Irish tricolour and ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ (no matter how much we’d like them to be and no matter how much many Irish republicans might like to preserve those symbols so as to protect reputation, honour and the like or so as not to be seen to be “weakly surrendering ground” in a “battle of wits”), never mind the republican dream of envisaging unionists adopting the symbols as their own national flag and anthem. Compromise doesn’t necessarily have to be seen as a dirty word, as weakness or as selling out; republicans have to be imaginative and malleable if we are to convince others of the merits of the position. Trying to fit or force a straitjacket over a reluctant community of people (whose consent is essential) is no way to encourage them, nor can we simply expect them to miraculously demonstrate enthusiasm if we’re not prepared to face up to the responsibility of reassuring them and winning them over. On this point, perhaps a new flag and anthem would be appropriate for a new all-island republic, with possible official recognition for sub-anthems and sub-flags in a federal-type system with sub-parliaments to govern designated communal areas. They’re just ideas and means that might help convince those of a unionist outlook that their identity can be as equally Irish as any other and that Irish unity will not pose any threat to their community interests; in fact, the new state would value and cherish their presence and contribution.

      As for your hypothetical scenario, for republicans to be outraged by John Smith would be inherently hypocritical and distinctly unrepublican. The imagined Smith should have every right to opt out of venerating the state symbols if they possessed particular connotations for him, just like Sammy Morrow did. His right should be respected and not infringed upon. You say he should have “followed the rules”; what rule in Ireland says that the hypothetical John Smith must revere state symbolism when the anthem plays? If he’s not doing himself any favours, it’s fundamentally because of the unreasonable expectations being imposed upon him by his host society. If an Irishman wanted to opt out of revering his own flag, he’d be more than entitled to do so as well, no matter what his reasons were or what his background was. You were accusing me of double-speak on account of using the term “disengagement” to describe McClean’s gesture. That’s a term from the George Orwell school of thought, but the unthinking conformity and adherence to authority that you are encouraging here is distinctly Orwellian; it is anti what Orwell sought to encourage allegorically.

      As I’ve said, you cannot impose peace and reconciliation. It’s something that has to be talked out and worked out. And I don’t agree that McClean’s act was against such spirit anyway, considering he respectfully opted out rather than doing something straight from the same culture that spawns acts of emblem desecration.

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      1. Philip Mallon · ·

        ”Secularism is about respecting all those different strands” youre encouraging disrespect! Youre saying everyone should have the right to disrespect. We should all just disrespect each other and put up with it. You are talking confused nonsense. Youve misjudged the whole situatio and are trying to worm out of it on technicalities like using bullshit language like ‘disengage’. You keep comparing him to Morrow, a man who disrespected them anthem!! Why cant you see that? Why cant you compare him to people who did respect the anthems? Wayne McCullough, Carl Frampton, Rory McIlroy etc. Youve no idea what my ideology is just by reading a paragraph so dont try and swing off the point by creating another argument. Youre talking in doublespeak bullshit, the likes of which comes out of North Korea on a weekly basis. The likes of which Gerry Adams uses when he’s asked about his IRA membership and the whereabouts of bodies. Youre a bullshitter

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      2. I’ve been civil with you so I’m not sure why you’ve resorted to calling me a “bullshitter” just because you happen to disagree with what I say or because of the terminology I’m using with completely honest and transparent intentions. I’m rather dismayed you’ve felt the need to lower the tone in such a manner. You sound frustrated.

        I’m not encouraging disrespect. You’re either misreading me or intentionally trying to put words in my mouth now. Besides, nobody has a right not to be be offended. The corollary of that indeed is that people do have a right to provoke and offend within the law. (Not that McClean was setting out to offend anyway. Morrow didn’t disrespect either.) The protection of the ideal of free expression is fundamental to a democratic and open republic/society. A functional society may not always be able to protect the ideal absolutely in the interests of public order and safety, but censorship and suppression are practices that should be avoided if at all practically possible as such practices are susceptible to being rampantly abused by those in authority in furtherance of their own interests.

        I don’t know your ideology; you are correct. You have told me you’re a republican though. However, you’ve expressed precious little republican sentiment throughout our exchanges. You’ve shown a distinct lack of human empathy and tolerance for positions at variance to your own.

        Whatever about your peculiar claim that I – a northern nationalist who grew up ten minutes from James McClean – have misjudged the situation and am now trying to worm out of something I’ve said, I’m not sure how you think you’re qualified to judge the situation considering you have absolutely zilch experience of the conditions and environment in which James McClean grew up.

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      3. Anyway, I’ve not ignored those individuals who do admirably seem to be able to ignore or step above deeply socially-ingrained political baggage. I covered that in the piece when I wrote:

        “If you are a nationalist who is secure enough in his or her identity to be able to overlook that, that is commendable, but I will defend the likes of James McClean if stepping above it is something over which he still has strong emotional and rational reservations, for obvious reasons. I will not hold him to blame for a reluctance to psychologically subjugate himself to a breathing ideology of supremacy. Why should he feel bad for it?”

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  13. Got a good laugh at the below statement, you man thinks it’s the real Liam Gallagher LOL

    “Did you see what rock and roll superstar Liam Gallagher (formerly of legendary Manchester band Oasis) said about James McClean on twitter ? He even put a statement out about he was a bit politically correct but got his point across us Mancs stick together I have a huge respect for Liam Gallagher and his stance on James McClean.”

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  14. Frankie · · Reply

    There is a difference between McClean, McGinn, Baird and Paddy Barnes. McClean isn’t shy of his bigotry towards Protestants or his views on murdered Catholics like Patsy Gillespie, I read on twitter how Paddy says he represents everyone in Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland as he isn’t sectarian!

    Also there is a big difference to bowing your head and turning your back. Why doesn’t james do the same to the yank national anthem, aren’t they in an enternal war with any country that tries to go it alone. What about the yanks continuinly backing the Zionists in ethnic cleansing of Palestinians(Muslim and Christian) in the West Bank and Gaza?

    All I know of McGinn and Baird is that one played for Celtic and the other Fulham, not once have I read anything that would indicate their the same as 25 year old McClean who saw none of the conflict.

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    1. If you’re accusing James McClean of anti-Protestant bigotry, you’re going to have to back that up. What are you referring to? What are McClean’s “views on murdered Catholics like Patsy Gillespie” exactly?

      McClean didn’t turn his back on any flag. He returned to the default position in which the team had originally been standing which then happened to be at a 45-degree-angle to the rest of his repositioned team-mates. He didn’t face the American flag during the American anthem either, as far as I can make out, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make there.

      See this photo from the recent friendly between Ireland and England in Dublin: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CK2HZdQWUAAdNG8.jpg

      The Ireland team are facing the tricolour as ‘Ahmrán na bhFiann’ plays, but the England team aren’t observing it. And that’s fine with everyone, isn’t it? No-one is under any obligation whatsoever to observe it just because the Irish national anthem is playing. Why do a different set of rules seemingly apply to James McClean with regard to an anthem that isn’t even his own?

      McClean’s opting out of deference came from the exact same tradition as that from which the head-bowing gestures of Baird and McGinn also emanate. Did you read McGinn’s quote? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I sense you may be a Northern Ireland fan attempting to erect a false distinction so as to reassure yourself that there’s no contradiction in your stance; that being the willingness to condemn James McClean (an “other”) whilst defending the likes of McGinn and Baird (as Northern Ireland internationals, two of “your own”)? It just comes across as rather biased against McClean. You’re applying a different standard to him for no better reason than because you harbour a personal dislike of the guy. You’ll have to explain better the alleged distinction to me because I don’t see it at all.

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  15. Paul Jones · · Reply

    Philip, your anology of Mr Smith rom Warrington and playing for an Irish team doesn’t reflect that it was the British State who killed the people in Derry/Londonderry and covered up for the army and itself for decades, whilst colluding with loyalist paramilitaries. The government and the people of ROI had nothing to do with the bombings of Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton etc.

    I have read that a NI protestant did the same as McClean in a Irish Cup final whilst playing for Derry City and didn’t acknowledge the Irish flag.Not a fuss made by Irish press or the nationalist / republican Derry City supporters.

    Personally, I believe McClean shouldve avoided the controversy, no one would’ve known otherwise. Anyhow, patriotism is poison. As someone who can’t stand National Anthems I’ve had the misfortune of having to stand for the US Anthem, Irish and English in pubs and sporting venues with embarrassment. Grrrr, but I do so out of respect for my hosts. In this instance England was not a host, therefore I believe McCkean should be given a break.

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    1. I wrote about Sammy Morrow’s solo-abstention from facing the tricolour before the 2008 FAI Cup final in the piece above. I happened to be at the game myself.

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      1. Philip Mallon · ·

        Yes a great example of a man displaying DISRESPECT. Why do you keep pointing to that example in order to justify McClean? By pointing to that example you are eff3ctively acknowledging McClean also displayed DISRESPECT. You can bullshit about “disengage” all you want but most ordinary sane people from both sides of the divide will admit that both actions were disrespectful. 2 wrongs dont make a right. Look to better examples. Car Frampton, Darren Clarke, the rugby players, Martin O’Neill himself! Even Neil Lennon never disrespected GSTQ despite the vile abuse he got. He was above it all, a better man. Why cant James McClean be a better man than that?

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      2. I was simply informing Paul that I had written about Morrow in my piece as I sensed from what he’d written that he mightn’t have been aware.

        Your comment is a loaded one in that you’re presuming from the outset that the gesture was one of intentional disrespect. To re-iterate, I don’t believe either McClean or Morrow displayed respect. They both respectfully abstained from observance. Neither of the two need to be “better men”. They’re perfectly valid human beings as they are. Sammy Morrow himself would completely reject your insistence that he is disrespectful and a “confirmed bigot”.

        Have you actually ever seen Neil Lennon stand through ‘God Save the Queen’?

        What do you make of the position of the England team in this image as ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ is playing?:

        Or the Andorra team in this image?:

        Do you think all eleven of each opposition team are engaging in an act of cultural disrespect because they’ve decided against observing the tricolour as ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ plays? If you think not, then can you explain why you’re intent on applying a different standard or obligation for McClean?

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    2. Philip Mallon · · Reply

      Im sorry but it does account for it. I acknowledge that when i say that is the perspective of people in Ireland, people in England have a different perspective because they were brought up to think differently. We may not agreee with it but we both have to respect the other perspective. Its just basic compromise!

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      1. I’m not sure which point you’re responding to here, sorry. Can you please elaborate?

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  16. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    The last one was in reference to Paul Jones’s remark that I hadn’t acknowledged the fact British army massacres was state violence. I clearly had…

    By Daniels logic society would be just fine if everyone made disrespectful gestures to each other when we didn’t agree with another individuals perspective. Politicians on Question time, Newsnight and Prime Time would make wanking and nob head gestures at each other when they didn’t respect the others point view. They would do so because they have a legal right to do so and the other person should just put up with it and not be offended or provoked. Its a small minded village idiot mentality and yes it frustrates me that there are people that think like that.

    THE ENGLAND FOOTBALL TEAM WAS DIFFERENT. THEY WERE A VISITING NATION NOT REPRESENTING IRELAND. JAMES MCCLEAN WAS REPRESENTING AN ENGLISH FOOTBALL CLUB. I AM BLUE IN THE FACE SAYING THAT. MAYBE IF I WRITE IN CAPS IT WILL SEEP THROUGH.

    Its you that is displaying zero empathy because you are refusing to consider the cultural perspectives and beliefs of the other side. I have consistently said you must respect the perspective of other peoples political and cultural beliefs. I am disrespectful and intolerant lexically here of your argument and points because we are debating an issue and in my opinion your argument is nonsense, that doesn’t mean I would make a wanking gesture towards you every time you speak if we met as you seem to be suggesting is fine to do. That would be inflammatory, disrespectful and provocative. Not cricket as they say.

    You continually espouse the right to “disengage” and “respectfully abstain”. That is doublespeak nonsense for justifying “disrespect” If James McClean didn’t know what he was doing was disrespectful or it wasn’t intentional then at best he was ignorant, at worst bigoted.

    I mean your whole “disengagement’ and ‘subservience’ nonsense is fundamentally flawed anyway. To you bowing your head whilst facing the flag is a sign of ‘disengagement’. Well I could easily interpret bowing your head as a sign of “subservience”. Bowing is a classic sign of subservience. Dogs bow to their owners wishes, people here in the far east bow to each other as a sign of respect and subservience to elders. People bow to the Queen as a sign of subservience. I could easily say bowing your head and facing the flag is subservient. Facing it with your chest stuck out like a proud Man or Woman and showing everyone that it hasn’t beaten you, that it doesn’t bother you is, to me, an act of defiance, bravery and courage. It shows youre above all the jingoism and patriotic bullshit, you’re not one of those losers stuck in the past harbouring grudges. It respects their customs but makes a powerful statement of who you are and your mentality.

    James McClean lined up for Wigan Athletic V Manchester United at Wembley stadium in August 2013. He knew before the game that he would have to face the royal box for the British national anthem. That was protocol for each team, if they were “facing that way already” as you say, it doesn’t matter, he knew that before coming out onto the pitch. The RAF were representing the royal family that day and the RAF were using the day to encourage British men to sign up and join the military. James McClean respectfully faced the royal box, as he knew he would have to do. He didn’t turn away, he didn’t declare himself unfit or unable to face it as that bigoted Unionist MP did at the GAA game. He respectfully observed the anthem, either by subserviently bowing his head or defiantly sticking his chest out. we know he did this because there was no media reports of him turning away or making a grand gesture. There is footage of him on youtube walking out to take his place in the line up and standing head bowed subserviently. I have seen it and can send you a link.

    Why did James McClean behave impeccably at Wembley stadium that day but not in the USA 2 weeks ago? Were his beliefs not too high at Wembley because there was a medal and potential wembley win bonus at the end of the game? Was it because he has always dreamt of playing in Wembley, the empire stadium, as a child? Why not openly disrespect it if he was so brave and courageous? If WBA get to an FA cup final will he not face the flag? Not shake the hand of Prince William? Not accept a medal from Prince William in the Royal box?

    His gesture in the USA was disrespectful to a lot of people on the opposite side of the political spectrum in the UK and Ireland that you are on. It is as simple as that, you need to acknowledge, accept and understand that. He could have faced the flag, head bowed subserviently, like he did at Wembley but he chose not to because it was a meaningless friendly and his beliefs are higher for a meaningless friendly than they are at wembley when theres a medal and win bonus. In my opinion he was most likely trying to impress his mates back home in Derry with his childish, petulant display of eejitry as Dion Fanning put it.

    In the words of a great English republican Stephen Patrick Morrissey “Its so easy to laugh, its so easy to hate. It takes guts to be gentle and kind”. Kindness=Respect. Maybe James McClean should keep that in mind.

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    1. Insults and offensive or disagreeable opinions are a part of life. Don’t you actually watch ‘Question Time’, ‘Newsnight’ and ‘Prime Time’? People and politicians firmly disagree with one another all the time. That’s all part of a diverse, critical and healthy society. I’m not encouraging intentionally disrespectful gestures at all (even though people are free to make them); that is to completely misrepresent my argument. People will interpret as disrespectful things that I interpret as innocent; that is their entitlement but they still don’t have a right not to be offended so as to stifle the right to free expression of others. Tolerating dissent and non-conformity should be an imperative for anyone purporting to be a republican, but you seemingly seek to suppress counter-thought?

      Take note of the words of Noam Chomsky:

      Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.

      If politicians started waving such gestures at one another, it’s hard to see how they’d be elected in the first place, never mind being welcomed back onto popular television programmes for level-headed political discussion and debate. So, no, reasonable people probably wouldn’t put up with it, nor would there be any obligation upon them to do so either just because a simultaneous entitlement to offend might exist.

      Whilst McClean might have been representing an English club, he was also representing himself, so where do his personal convictions (also protected under employment law) come into it for you? I might add, he is a visitor to England too and was indeed a visitor to the USA. He wasn’t representing England either. Why should representing an English club require him to pay reverence to the British national anthem? Not even representing Northern Ireland would oblige him to pay reverence to the British national anthem.

      I can of course consider and appreciate the cultural perspective of the other side. Not that all of English opinion constitutes this other side either, mind. My girlfriend is English and she agrees with me on this matter, as do many other English people evidently. I just happen to think of the more knee-jerk, populist responses in Britain as unreasonable, and for good reason. Where I draw my line in terms of what I find reasonable and unreasonable is at the point of imposition of one’s will upon a harmless other, and that’s the difference between the two sides of this debate; James McClean peacefully and respectfully opted out of observing an anthem threatening or causing absolutely no harm or impediment to anyone else’s ability to celebrate their cultural emblems if they wished to do so, whilst the outraged seek to force their populist will and cultural emblems upon a reluctant and uncomfortable James McClean. Which position of the two is the uncompromising, intrusive and disrespectful one here?

      You were calling me a “bullshitter” up above; where does such disrespect lie in your rather dubious “I’m intolerant of disrespect” narrative?

      McClean’s intent was not to disresepct, which is the crucial thing here. If he’d wanted to be disrespectful, he could have loudly protested, waved his fingers at the flag or actually done something actively provocative. He was performing, conscientiously actually, an inoffensive gesture that is common amongst nationalist-background players when they line out for Northern Ireland and ‘God Save the Queen’ is played. They don’t mean any disrespect when they bow out, nor is any offence taken by the vast majority of Northern Ireland fans. The players’ cultural background and natural discomfort with such symbolism as a result is appreciated and respected.

      You might view bowing one’s head as an act of subservience, but your paragraph attempting to show my “nonsense” as “fundamentally flawed” is just getting into silly territory. It is nothing but intellectual deceit to try and extrapolate from a bowing gesture in the northern context a demonstration of subservience. The intent of the gesture by the actor is what is important here; not your wildly disingenuous “misinterpretation” of it. Why would you even begin to think that this gesture of bowing out is more accurately to be interpreted as one of subservience? Bowing one’s head in the context we’re discussing is so obviously indicative of a gesture of abstention. Are you seriously trying to suggest now that when James McClean bowed his head or when Northern Ireland players or Paddy Barnes do the same, they’re actually gesturing subservience rather than abstention or disengagement? What contrived bunkum. Please have a read of Niall McGinn’s comment again.

      “Facing it with your chest stuck out like a proud Man or Woman and showing everyone that it hasn’t beaten you, that it doesn’t bother you is, to me, an act of defiance…”

      Bowing one’s head seems like a very natural means of respectfully opting out, but your argument is all over the place now. I thought you weren’t all that fond of gestures of cultural defiance?

      McClean didn’t exactly face the royal box on that occasion in 2013 though, did he? I don’t know why you’re still peddling this lie, as if there’s some inconsistency here on McClean’s part. On that occasion, his body might have been in a particular direction but that was rendered irrelevant by the fact that he remained steadily looking at the ground (most certainly not out of subservience to the monarch; what an utter distortion of reality) and maintained that position throughout the anthem’s duration, thus opting out of observing the anthem and royal box. He didn’t have to move his body away as he was already standing that way anyway and a bowing of his head sufficed. Had he remained turned to face the flag in the US, however, that might have been interpreted as actively observing because he would have moved away from his default stance and into a new position in order to acknowledge the flag at one end of the pitch. I suspect you’re intentionally feigning obtuseness on this point now in order to obfuscate matters.

      Can you post up the link of this Community Shield footage, please? I’m confident it will prove beyond doubt my position once and for all. If you’re going to allege hypocrisy, double standards or selling out of his principles for something as flaky as playing at the imperial Wembley (ha!) or as receiving a medal or a bonus (not that potential receipt of those items would even have been dependent on a display of observance in the first place), you’ll first have to demonstrate that he was actually inconsistent. Your narrative is a fanciful and ultimately dishonest attempt to blemish his integrity. Are you actually arguing that had he turned his body away that he’d have had his potential medal and bonus withheld from him? That is the ground upon which you’ve erected this fabrication, but it just doesn’t make sense. You sound like you have a serious gripe against the guy. Is it his politics that grate with you or what is it about him that gets to you so much? If he reaches another cup final, I envisage him similarly opting out to how he has always done; he’ll bow his head down in disengagement and continue standing in the direction in which he’d be standing anyway.

      Plenty of unionists tolerate the gesture of disengagement when nationalist-background players do it whilst lined up for Northern Ireland. Why can’t you be as tolerant as they are, especially seeing as it’s their cultural emblem?

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  17. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Free speech is completely different to disrespectful gestures. No point in comparing both.You have been very good at comparing incomparable situations so far.

    Still you are refusing to acknowledge that many people were offended. Can you not just acknowledge that at least? I was not personally offended at all by his actions, as many English people were not and some Unionists. Thats good and shows that they are tolerant of such a gesture or are of the view “alls fair in love and war” and that it was his legal right. But it still doesnt mean it wasnt a gesture, which like it or not is widely viewed as disrespectful by people on both sides. Many many people in Ireland would be outraged if an Englishman in Ireland did the same thing (please don’t hark back to Morrow to compare here and say its the same because its not, he’s from Northern Ireland for a start and was living there at the time. The hypothetical situation I posted purposely picked a character from England living in Ireland to mirror the situation) Its a signal that you don’t have any respect for that particular flag. That flag represents the past and present. He lives in the present, the present is good to him. Why disrespect it based on historical events?

    Now even if I take your side of things and agree that to you and many on your side of the argument it was an act of “disengaging” or “respectfully abstaining” not “disrespecting” (which I still maintain is doublespeak) you must accept, whether you like it or not that many people with an opposing opinion on the situation to you, who are English/Unionist/whatever, in a country with 60 million odd people view it as “disrespectful”. Not “disengaging” or not “respectfully abstaining”. I would be confident that many Tory, Labour, Lib Dem and Monarchists generally would view it as disrepectful. The UK is a democratic monarchy. Like it or not thats a fact. Free speech is good, many people (Morrissey!!) criticise the Royals, but gestures of disrespect are in bad taste and viewed as below the belt, especially from those who are from the other side of the political spectrum or are from a different country (in this sense I mean Ireland and England. I’m aware McClean is officially from UK but he regards himself as Irish living in England). McCleans gesture to those people was a gesture of “disrespect”, not “disengagement” or “respectfully abstaining”. You HAVE to understand that. You HAVE to accept that and until now you have refused to. It doesn’t matter what you think about it because he lives & works in England and represents an English football club so therefore the perspectives of these people in England and the cultural/political norms must be respected and take priority over his and your views. Gestures of disrespect are tolerated but looked upon badly. Bad manners. Not cricket, inflammatory and provocative. And in the context of the troubled political history between the 2 countries it is even more inflammatory and provocative. How do you think countries like England and Germany, France and England, have moved on since the war? They don’t blame historical events on the present generation, thats how. They respect each other in the modern context. Why is the nazi salute so despised? Because its a provocative gesture that represents eveil to many. (I’m not saying McCleans gesture was as bad as the nazi salute I’m just saying it was a gesture that offended people. Using Nazi salute as a good example of a gesture that offends)

    I spoke with a friend about the issue last night. She told me about working in Thailand 2 years ago for a government run school. The monarchy are viewed almost as deities there. Every morning she had to face a portrait of the royal family and the Thai flag. Stand and observe the anthem. Not sing, just stand and observe. If she made any gestures such as refusing to face it or not participating, she would have lost her job. That is intolerance. It didn’t matter about her beliefs, she had to respect the beliefs of where she was. The fact James McClean still has a job and has received support in England just shows what a tolerant country it is. Sadly I doubt there would be the same level of public support in Ireland for an Englishman in the same situation ( again please don’t use Morrow example here because its different. Not English for a start). He would be run out of the country in my opinion.

    You can go on and on waffling about “disengagement” and “respect to abstain” and nationalists on your side of the argument and others on your side will support you and you will think you’ve made a great point. But it doesn’t matter because your side of the argument doesn’t matter in this situtation. If the player was English living Ireland you would have more of a say on the matter but I still think people within political circles of the Irish state would be right to insist he faces the flag (again please don’t mention morrow) and it wouldn’t matter what the right wing or anyone else in England thought either. You must not make ostentatious gestures that are percieved by many of the local population as disrespectful whilst visiting or especially living in a foreign country (in the sense that he’s Irish living in England).To many in England James McClean made an ostentatious gesture. You can understand that can’t you?

    The wembley thing is just a sideshow really but in my opinion highlights hypocrisy on his part. And again even if you think bowing his head was “disengagement” or “abstaining respectfully” (I think its more a sign of subservience actually and think probably many monarchists do also. Many men do after all bow their heads when meeting Queen. Oh the irony!) that opinion doesn’t matter. To most that day he didn’t make an offensive gesture. His behaviour was impeccable from the viewpoint of most people that don’t live in the fantasy insular world of “disengagement” and “respectfully abstain” that seems to exist in Northern Ireland. Also as I said, the British Army used that final to promote recruitment so why even take part in such a disgraceful occasion? The promotion of the Royal armed forces? The very forces who mowed down people in the bogside over 40 years ago? Worse than wearing the poppy.

    Another thing you keep saying is I never lived in Northern Ireland and hence can’t appreciate things. I believe the very fact I never lived there is the very reason I can see the rational viewpoint on the situation, whereas you just simply can’t. You are blinded by your own patriotic nationalism. I have lived abroad, away from UK and Ireland and travelled, for over 5 years now and have seen patriotims in its ugliest form out here also. Normal, reasonable people lose all logic over it, in a similar way they do with religion and Ireland does not have a patent on issues of patriotism or a history of colonial oppression so i don’t have to have lived there to understand. If I lived there I would probably be staunchly defending him blindly as you are. I view Unionism and Nationalism in Ireland as opposite ends of the same stick. Ugly non-identical twins. Shit and Shite.

    I read Broadfoot is now on a social re-education course for him to see the rational side of these arguments. Maybe you and others should think of signing up to one of them, they run them for North Korean defectors here and they seem to work well. Its good you have a girlfriend who is tolerant of your views, but again I think thats an indication of Englands tolerance. An Englishman with and irish girlfriend trying to make the same point would probably find it more difficult in my opinon.

    I don’t think James McClean is a bigot, but I don’t think he has strong beliefs either. I just think he acted in a stupid, childish manner and matches the widely held view that 25 year old professional footballers probably have the mental age of a regular 17 year old.

    @philletmallon

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/reserves-in-fa-community-shield-ceremony

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    1. The protection of free speech (you don’t appear to comprehend the logic or its true import) is very much about the protection of gestures that may be perceived by some citizens as “disrespectful”. This brilliant piece by Kevin Rooney is well worth a read as it goes into greater detail on this point: http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/07/18/free-speech-the-real-loser-in-terry-v-ferdinand/

      I’m certainly not refusing to acknowledge that many people were offended. I’m well aware and explicitly referred to them in my opening paragraph. In case you missed it, somehow, their taking offence was the very reason I wrote the piece above. They don’t have an exclusive say over deciding what is and isn’t socially, morally or legally acceptable.

      If you can say it is good that some English people and unionists have shown themselves to have been tolerant of McClean’s gesture, then what is your fundamental problem with what McClean did? In effect, aren’t you now saying that intolerance of the gesture would be a bad thing, or at least not as preferable? You’re preaching tolerance (very dubiously, mind), but why don’t you morally expect the same as what you supposedly preach of the remaining section of the English and unionist population who have been intolerant on this matter? If you praise the tolerant, why not cast a more critical eye over who you now admit to be the intolerant?

      Morrow’s case is no different from McClean’s. I don’t know why the fact that he wasn’t living in the south should morally distinguish him. Why should it render his case distinct exactly? He was visiting the southern state playing for a League of Ireland team run and supported by Irish nationals and opted out of observing the Irish tricolour at odds with the rest of his team-mates and the opposition team. If he didn’t want to be compelled into a demonstration of observance, let him be; that’s entirely his prerogative. Same principle and standard applies to McClean. Why are you trying to erect false distinctions? What is it about McClean in particular that has gotten your back up?

      The opting-out gesture indicates that one would feel culturally uncomfortable with appearing subservient or deferential to the particular flag. It is not to disrespect an entire nation of people. As should have been clear from my piece, the contentious and loaded nature of certain symbolism in the north is not a thing of the past. Appearing subservient to ‘God Save the Queen’ and the ideology it embodies can have strong negative connotations for a member of the nationalist community for reasons of the present that should be obvious to all. McClean’s response was very much a contemporary response. I know you don’t like the fact it is very much of the present, but it is, and that is something that we have to accept and face up to instead of pretending it’ll just go away because you think it shouldn’t be of the contemporary day.

      You are incorrect to claim “the perspectives of these people in England and the cultural/political norms must … take priority over his and your views”. All residents in the UK (whether citizens or foreign) are legally (and, of course, morally) entitled to equal protection of their views and the expression of those views. The right to non-expression of a particular viewpoint is also protected in the face of overbearing and intrusive popular or mainstream expectations, as it should be. So, of course my argument matters; without wishing to overstate my personal importance, it matters in the sense that it pertains to a party directly involved in the furore and amounts to an explanation (that I’ve not seen anywhere else in print) as to why McClean did what he did and why it should not be confused for or misinterpreted as a disrespectful act of Anglophobic bitterness. Many English readers have appreciated it and found it a worthwhile engagement.

      If an Englishman was run out of Ireland for doing the same as what McClean and Morrow did, I would be ashamed and would similarly think very little of such populist intolerance. I’m not disputing that England might be more tolerant than other places around the world. I’m just talking about a particular instance of intolerance – that doesn’t mean that all types of intolerance are identical or on an equal level of severity – whilst you seem keen to distract and obfuscate with irrelevancies. Whilst different degrees of intolerance can exist, we can still at least both agree that the knee-jerk outraged reaction to McClean was fundamentally rooted in intolerance.

      Your video there actually proves my point. McClean was indeed the fourth player across in the earlier video I posted who had his head firmly directed downwards throughout ‘God Save the Queen’ so as to opt out of observance. Thus, there is no hypocrisy. He acted consistently on both occasions. The head-bowing is obviously a gesture of opting or bowing out – disengagement or abstention, in other words – and not an act of subservience (neither intentional or unwitting) no matter how much you want to try and really bizarrely spin things. I can’t believe this is even “up for debate”. You must realise you’re being wildly dishonest now by trying to suggest McClean not only impeccably observed ‘God Save the Queen’ (with his head firmly bowed) but actually executed a gesture of subservience to the queen? If the British Army sought to do some recruitment promotion before the final, that’s their prerogative; it had nothing to do with McClean nor did his participation implicitly or explicitly endorse that. I imagine he just ignored all that fanfare too.

      Broadfoot’s punishment was handed out by the FA as they presumably view such behaviour by those who participate in their game as unsporting misconduct. It was most likely in breach of some code of conduct with which participants either expressly agree before participating or with which they are deemed to be in implicit agreement by virtue of their participation. In essence, they served him a set of conditions with which he has to comply before he is to be allowed to compete in English competition again. It was not served by the state nor does there appear to be any sign of the state considering taking action against him because it’s probably unlikely that what Broadfoot actually did would merit “criminal” status. To suggest, however, that McClean should be treated similarly is just silly.

      How exactly can you sustain the claim that I’m blinded by “[my] own patriotic nationalism” when I’ve defended Sammy Morrow’s right to opt out of observance of the tricolour? If I was culturally blinded or compromised, I’d have been condemnatory of Morrow. no?

      I’m in need of “social re-education” so I can start thinking the “right way” (or the way with which you agree, in other words)? Good grief, listen to yourself; that eerie concept of social correction by the ruling, mainstream or populist orthodoxy is positively Orwellian. Are you accusing me of thought-crime then? For all your apparently-appreciative talk of Orwell earlier, I’m really not convinced you do believe in free thought/speech at all.

      The difference between McClean’s gesture and the culture of flag protesting/emblem desecration is that the latter is firmly rooted in a desire to impose a will upon others or perceived social inferiors. Such a school of thought erroneously perceives attempted cultural equality – the arrival of the “inferior” minority to a point of socio-legal equilibrium (parity of esteem, in other words) – and the consequent loss of the historical position of supremacy as an attack and attempt to domineer; of course, unionist politicians are very happy to let such paranoia fester, if not stir it up themselves to their electoral benefit. See how Naomi Long was disgracefully hounded, marginalised and stigmatised in East Belfast by unionists who should have known a lot better after the Alliance Party voted in favour of restricting the flying of the Union flag over Belfast City Hall. Out of interest, where do you stand on the flag matter? I suppose you’ll tell me that restricting its flying was a cultural insult too?

      In contrast to the mentality underlying the flag protests and acts of emblem desecration, McClean was simply asking that his identity be respected. He was not trampling upon anyone else’s culture nor was he trying to stymie the cultural aspirations, expressions or celebrations of others. Flag protesting and emblem desecration are rooted in an irrational fear or paranoia; the ideology somehow views increasing levels of cultural and community equality in the north as tantamount to a subjugation of the loyalist people. It is unreasonable in that it not only rejects the compromise of flying both communities’ national flags or none, it actually cannot bring itself to accept the restricted privilege it still enjoys through the fact that the Union flag (and not the tricolour) still flies 18 days a year from Belfast City Hall. McClean’s gesture was rooted in the complete opposite; it was a passive opting out and not an active intrusion or trampling.

      I would also take issue with a few things Eamonn Sweeney said in this piece, where he, like yourself, misinterprets McClean’s gesture as an act of disrespect: http://www.independent.ie/sport/soccer/eamonn-sweeney-in-a-world-where-martin-mcguinness-can-meet-the-queen-surely-mcclean-can-acknowledge-her-anthem-31403915.html

      On the question of why James couldn’t observe the anthem when Martin McGuinness could shake the hand of the queen, as I outlined above, shaking someone’s hand can be a gesture of good will between equals (that sense of social equilibrium is crucial), whereas observing a particular flag or anthem can possess very different social connotations; more specifically, connotations of subservience or of subscription to a certain ideology embodied by the symbolism concerned. It all depends on how people interpret or frame particular social gestures; everyone does it differently.

      Sweeney also rather-presumptuously compares McClean’s gesture to UUP politician Tom Elliott’s declining of an invite to a Gaelic football game made in good will by the GAA on the basis that ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ would be played and the tricolour on display. Let’s get a sense of perspective here. First of all, Sweeney makes the mistake of assuming that the two respective responses were rooted in some identical, mirror-imaged intent or some sense of mutual bitterness. He sees them as being qualitatively the same.

      However, to apply an analogy very loosely simply in order to make a logical point, that would be like saying that an African-American individual who opts out of observing a Confederate flag in a southern US state for fear of appearing culturally subservient to it is cut from the exact same cloth as a member of the Ku Klux Klan/white pride movement who declines a good-will invite to a jazz or blues event in celebration of black culture. We shouldn’t assume that just because James McClean stood up for what he believed in that it was the direct nationalist inverse of what unionist Tom Elliott believed in. McClean wasn’t justified in what he did because he stood up for what he believed in; he was justified in what he did because there were legitimate rational and emotional reasons for his opting-out gesture, and because he is entitled to his personal convictions not being interfered with by the encroachment of others besides.

      Furthermore, McClean didn’t actually boycott an entire event on the basis of the playing of an anthem or the display of a particular flag, so to equate the two matters quantitatively is also specious.

      There may even be an argument to be made that, as a politician, and, indeed, the then-leader of the UUP, the notion and significance of political office and communal leadership comes into play. Are politicians who are public servants/representatives and leaders of sizeable sections of the population justifiably subject to different standards or expectations by virtue of their position of democratic power? There was no onus on James McClean to be doing any reaching-out, but there may be an argument to be made that Elliott could have accepted the invite to send out a message of leadership and intent? He might even have taken his seat late like Peter Robinson. James McClean opted out of observance of an anthem for two minutes on the basis of his personal preferences. Elliott opted out of going to a GAA game too for personal reasons, but there’s a bit more, societally-speaking, to being a politician than there is to being a footballer, no? A poster called Down South added a comment on Slugger O’Toole in relation to the matter and, although I’m not necessarily agreeing wholeheartedly with it, I think it is worth consideration anyway: http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/11/25/tom-elliotts-non-u-turn/#comment-1473949500

      As concerns the topic of him going to see a match – it is all about leadership. If he is going to lead a sizeable section of the population then you’d like to think he can rise above personal tribal issues and make a bigger statement – a reaching out if you will and there are few other organisations to engage with that would send a bigger signal of intent.

      I am certain the Queen and Mary McAleese would rather spend (at least some of) their Saturday or Sunday afternoons somewhere else than endlessly tripping up and down carpets talking to footballers but they do it because it is political to do so. Therefore his decision to not attend GAA matches has very little to do with his personal sporting preferences and a lot to do with sending a political statement. If he doesn’t realise this then he is a fool.

      Maybe, maybe not…

      Ultimately, though, I think the progressive response (to Elliott’s evidently-reasoned rejection) of Danny Murphy, who was secretary of the Ulster Council of the GAA at the time, is worth repeating as it highlights the most important point in all of this: http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/elliott-s-positive-talks-with-gaa-1-1868371

      “We discovered where our positions are, and I think we’re better acquainted with the position of the Ulster Unionist Party with regard to the GAA, and they probably have a better understanding of where we’re coming from.”

      On the question of Mr Elliott attending a GAA event, Mr Murphy said that was a personal matter.

      “I don’t think that, if we are going to work at building respect and understanding, that we shouldn’t be telling people what they should or shouldn’t do or vice versa.“

      Here is another comment on Slugger in relation to the story that would be well worth your consideration: http://sluggerotoole.com/2010/11/25/tom-elliotts-non-u-turn/#comment-1474093971

      Mr Elliott is perfectly entitled to emphasises his sense of Britishness. It does not make him sectarian. If he lived in Folkestone rather tha Fermanagh, nobody would think it odd.

      Likewise Mr Elliotts counterpart in further down his Fermanagh road is in no way sectarian just because he wants to maximise his sense of Irishness. Its not considered odd in Ennis, County Clare and should not be considered odd in Enniskillen.

      There are of course bigots in each tribe, who necessarily feel that they can only get a sense of their own Irishness or Britishness by negative attitudes towards themmuns.

      The third tribe in the “non-sectarian middle” are no different. They might feel delighted that darling Jessica has a boyfriend called Ferghalwho she met at that wonderful integrated school. And Jessica and Ferghal go sailing in Bangor Bay and ski-ing in Colorado.

      They are no different in their sectarianism/sectionalism for being delighted that Jessica is not mixing with those horrible young people in East Belfast and being relieved that Ferghal is not one of those ghastly boys from West Belfast.

      And wonder aloud why people cant live together in peace.

      What did you make of West Brom captain Darren Fletcher’s comments in relation to the whole thing, by the way: http://www.irishexaminer.com/sport/soccer/west-brom-backing-james-mcclean-says-skipper-darren-fletcher-345169.html

      From the Irish Examiner:

      Fletcher said: “[James McClean] doesn’t want to cause upset, he has got his beliefs about a lot of things but he is not a troublemaker, he hasn’t done anything to cause trouble, he has not done any harm to anyone. I have got a bit of an insight into it because my mum is Irish and I have got family in Derry. It’s a real sensitive subject. He’s got strong beliefs and it is great that he has those beliefs. After the (Charleston) incident, the rest of the media can have their opinion, that’s fine.

      West Brom fans cheered McClean during their friendly clash with Swindon last weekend. “To hear that from the Albion fans on Saturday against Swindon, that was great for him,” said Fletcher.

      “I was really pleased to hear it and I’m sure it was a real confidence booster for him because he is aware of it. He has not caused anyone any harm, the fans got behind him at the weekend and that speaks volumes of the Albion fans and I hope that continues.

      “The rest of the football fans around the country can have their opinion but the most important thing I can do is relay to the fans how good a guy he has been.”

      So, James has the full support of his club captain and also was given a very warm reception by his club’s fans in his last outing; a seal of approval, if you will. How does your narrative that he committed something socially unacceptable to Britons sit with that reality?

      And now to my unfortunate conclusion; it has been to my great dismay just how incredibly stubborn, pompous, disrespectful, brash and crass you have been throughout our engagements on Twitter and on the blog here. There’s very little reason for your confrontational attitude and presumptions of righteousness considering you only learned the meaning and import of the concept of parity of esteem yesterday. You’ve been anything but the neutral, objective observer; you’ve twisted arguments and raised countless irrelevancies and red herrings in order to try and tarnish McClean’s character.

      Essentially, you’ve barged into a very delicate and complex debate with no appreciation of the subtleties whatsoever, much like a raging bull in a china shop, yet you trundle out again proclaiming you’re right and I’m wrong and mock me as a “bullshitter” and “waffler” for having had the audacity to offer a considered insight into the context of the situation as someone who knows the terrain because it’s part of my blood and upbringing. It’s the height of ill manners, yet you think you’re qualified to lecture James McClean on his manners and insult his intelligence?…

      I’m not saying I’m right on everything and, of course, my perspective is coloured by my upbringing and cultural experiences and perceptions, but I’m offering personal thoughts in the hope that it will encourage people – especially dismayed Britons – to look at things a little differently from what they might have just casually assumed to be the case. Have a bit of civility and humility and realise your own fallibility and limitations when you discuss a matter such as this too.

      I feel like we’re running round in circles and I’m back in Ireland for a break for the next while after Sunday, so this may well be my final response to you. I’ll be busy doing other things. Otherwise, thank you for your contributions and input, but I’m not sure I have the energy to persist any further with your intransigence and attempts to becloud and stifle the debate. I’ve grown tired of the loaded statements, the repeated erecting of straw-men and the simplistic moral sanctimony, so I’ll leave it at that.

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  18. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    In Daniel’s UK and Ireland people would all have the “right to disrespect” each other but his “Ministry for Truth” would erase that term from the English language and replace it with the terms the “right to disengage” or ” right to a respectfully abstain”. Irish people living and visiting the UK would routinely uphold their “right to disengage” in relation to any customs & practices they don’t agree with by making ostentatious gestures to signal their “right to disengage”. People from Britain would do the same when visiting and living in Ireland.

    Daniel’s policy would encourage division, distrust and hate. He would divide communites of different beliefs. Violence and riots would eventually ensue, maybe all out civil war. But it would be OK because their “right to disengage” was respected.

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    1. The logical fallacy you’ve committed there – and it’s not the first you’ve committed during our exchanges – is that of the slippery slope. From where are you getting the far-fetched idea that all social order would collapse if people only decided to express themselves for a change (as if they haven’t been expressing themselves already for the entirety of the relatively-peaceful segments of human existence)? You’ve not provided any rational argument or demonstrable mechanism for the inevitability of such an improbable scenario arising. You’re baselessly catastrophising and scaremongering. What exactly would motivate people to do what you’re suggesting and to destroy all sense of social order as a result?

      People in the UK and Ireland already have a right to express themselves and, thus, do disrespect one another from time to time (because they have the freedom to do so when motivating factors arise), yet society is not currently on the brink of collapse. All I can conclude is that you fundamentally misunderstand behavioural motivators; it is not expressions of hate that lead to conflict so much as it is conflict which leads to expressions of hate. This is a thought-provoking read that goes into greater detail on this point: http://www.thebirdman.org/Index/Lbl/Lbl-TwoTheoriesOfFreeSpeech.html

      A right to disrespect is indeed protected by law, whereas limitation is imposed upon such expression when it crosses a line into what is deemed “hate speech” by virtue of its threatening nature or by virtue of it having a certain alarming effect. What specifically constitutes hate speech under UK law is outlined here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_the_United_Kingdom

      James McClean fell foul of nothing there. Whether or not his gesture had the unintended effect of disrespecting certain people (who were perhaps ignorant of or unwilling to appreciate his cultural perspective), he still had a moral and legal right to do what he did.

      You don’t appear to have much time for the ideal of freedom of expression or of thought with which you or popular orthodoxy might disagree. It’s your entitlement to feel that way if you wish. Nevertheless, one man’s disengagement may be another man’s disrespect. That is life and this is obviously where we differ in our interpretations. The serially or compulsively outraged don’t have a monopoly over the definition of what is and isn’t disrespectful. (Nor do their dispiritingly petty and impertinent defenders.)

      Different perspectives exist and are compelled to co-exist by life’s very nature; sometimes that can be the root of tension because people are different and can share different or even opposing interests, but so be it. We have to make do. If someone wants to go a step further and threaten or cause physical or significant mental harm to someone on the basis of an insult, that’s a totally different matter. There are no laws to protect that; rather, there are laws against it, as outlined above.

      You’ll find that negative freedom of expression or the freeedom of non-expression (as in, being free to opt out of something, being free from being compelled to express or commit to a particular viewpoint or being free from being forced to assent in or appear to give support to another’s views on the basis of one’s beliefs) is indeed a protected right too, in accordance with the ECHR, which, of course has application over the UK and Ireland. See Strohal v. Austria [1994] ECommHR 20871/92:

      “[T]he Commission recalls that the right to freedom of expression by implication also guarantees a ‘negative right’ not to be compelled to express oneself, i.e. to remain silent (see K. v. Austria (16002/90), Commission Report of 13 October 1992, § 45.)”

      It’s surprising that you seem to find great difficulty in being able to distinguish between someone defending a particular opinion and someone defending someone’s right to hold that particular opinion. When I encourage the protection of freedom of speech, that’s not remotely to say that I’m explicitly supporting or approving of divisive or hateful opinions (not that I’m suggesting what McClean did was rooted in an intent to insult either, just to remain clear on that point). I’m merely defending people’s right to hold what others might perceive as divisive and hateful opinions (because I think free speech and free thought are pretty essential values worth protecting in a healthy, functioning society). I’m stunned you cannot grasp that in light of your claim to being a fan of the work of George Orwell. I think you can, but you’ve kind of gotten yourself into a logical quagmire of sorts and are afraid to admit it due to a combination of a peculiar and somewhat disconcerting agenda against James McClean and a petty sense of “I’m always right”-style stubbornness.

      It might be difficult for one to advocate the protection of thought and expression with which one fundamentally disagrees – especially as the nuance contained therein can so often be misinterpreted by others as explicit support for the actual idea itself (as demonstrated by yourself above or more famously by a community of purported intellectuals in French during the Faurisson affair) – but we must stand up for freedom of expression or non-expression for the greater social good (it keeps authority in check) and – in the interests of consistency – as a matter of principle, assuming we seriously wish for our own personal thoughts and expressions to enjoy protection too. If we cannot defend others’ right to hold certain thoughts and express themselves without harm to others, then why should our own thoughts or thoughts that we like be accorded the luxury of unique favourable treatment?

      This piece, entitled ‘His Right to Say It’, by Noam Chomsky in relation to the Faurisson affair is worth reading as it makes that point brilliantly: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19810228.htm

      You also appear to misunderstand the concept and mechanism of trust. Trust is rooted in openness and transparency, or truth in other words; not in concealment and suppression. The process of re-building trust is one of gradual transition. Obviously, trust is not something that can be imposed upon people; it can be inspired and given a chance to blossom if external conditions and circumstances conducive to it exist or are encouraged, but, ultimately, it is still a feeling that emanates wholly from within rather than without.

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  19. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    Incredible waffle. Really really unbelievable stuff. Just goes to show any joker with a website can call themselves a “journalist” these days. Shames the profession

    Like

    1. Now you’re just trolling. Or you’ve missed the whole idea here. Either way, I’m a writer who comments on socio-political/cultural matters, most often relating to the realms of Ireland and/or football. I have not professed to being a journalist, never mind one in the journalistic profession. If refraining from spouting falsehoods is beyond you, I guess you could always just learn the difference between commentary and journalism?

      Like

  20. Philip Mallon · · Reply

    “Social Commentator” …more waffle. I think youre the type of person who would describe himself as a “fuel distribution technician” if your job was a petrol pump assistant.

    Like

  21. […] the root of what he evidently perceives to be a problem, he should first harry those behind national anthem-playing within the game along with its shepherds here in Britain who subject those involved to the […]

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  22. […] out James McClean, he should initially harry those behind national anthem-playing within the […]

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    1. Many thanks! Glad you found it interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. […] Is the UK an innately right-wing society? The apparent dominant ethos of its media and body politic would certainly give such an impression. Is it a place that is politically mature enough to truly embrace civil, reasonable and respectful dissent, those who are not prepared to wholeheartedly endorse traditional British monarcho-nationalist values or indeed those who identify themselves with or through other extrinsic values? That too is certainly debatable. […]

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  24. […] ago, Sweeney illiberally attacked McClean (along with unionist politician Tom Elliott), seemingly misinterpreting the Derry player’s gesture – a statement of self-preservation – as…. If Sweeney is going to get into the business of moral judgment and condemnation, he ought to first […]

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  25. […] of McClean’s former club, Sunderland, chanted “No surrender to the IRA” and sang ‘God Save the Queen’ at the player for ninety minutes as he lined out against their club for his present club, West Bromwich Albion. […]

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  26. […] have been booing him regularly all season over his principled stance on the poppy combined with his decision not to have participated in an observance of the British national anthembefore a pre-season club friendly game in the US earlier this […]

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  27. McClean doesn’t turn his back when his pay cheque arrives though does he? He feels so strongly about the English way of life then he tries to help make an English team win football matches. The man is a hypocrite

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    1. Why would he turn his back on his pay cheque? He’s worked hard for it.

      Anyway, I think you’ve grossly misunderstood what James McClean is about. When has he ever suggested he has an issue with the English way of life?

      Like

  28. Traiteur Rabat Regal; Traiteur de ronome au Maroc

    This is my expert

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