Erin McClean details abuse family receives and says photo ID needed for social media

Erin McClean details abuse family receives and says photo ID needed for social media

Erin McClean, the wife of James McClean, a footballer with the Republic of Ireland national team, has criticised the lack of support her husband receives from football authorities.  Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Erin McClean, wife of Republic of Ireland soccer player James McClean, has called on social media platforms to insist on photo identification before allowing accounts to be set up, so abuse can be reported.

“Something should be in place, if photo ID was needed to verify an account, then if something was said you can report it and the social media platform could ban them,” she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

Ms McClean told of the abuse the family has experienced because of her husband’s stance on not wearing the poppy emblem. Her husband was not anti-British, she said, they had friends and neighbours who were English and they loved them.

She said it was always at the back of her mind that someone would take the abuse too far and she feared for her husband’s safety and that her oldest child might suffer from comments at school.

Ms McClean drew widespread attention in recent days to the abuse her family receives on a regular basis in a series of social media posts. The targeted abuse and threats center on Mr McClean's refusal to wear a Rembrance Poppy in November. 

"Hard not to react"

Ms McClean acknowledged that they had “kind of gotten used to it, but we shouldn’t have to. I don’t want others to have to go through what we have for the past 10 years.” 

The family had suffered comments while out shopping, usually when someone had passed by, “it’s never straight to your face. It’s very hard not to react". 

The comments had included the suggestion to “get out of England.” Her husband had been talking for years about the abuse they experienced “but he was not listened to,” she said. 

The abuse had been constant over the years, but she was now concerned that it would impact on her children, in particular her seven year old who was now at school. 

We tell her that there are other teams that don’t like Daddy. 

The family has security at their home and if they ever order items, they do so in her name or have it delivered to the club, but she was always concerned that someone would follow her husband home.

England was their home, the family was content there and their children were at school there, but eventually they would probably move home to Derry, she said. “I think it has crossed his mind (to retire), he has made mistakes and he has paid the price for them. He shouldn’t have to leave a job he loves.

“He doesn’t get the proper support he needs. The level of abuse is not being dealt with.” 

The family does not live an extravagant lifestyle, she added, “we just want to make a life for them (their children).” The abuse was now so frequent that they did not always report it, she said. 

"You end up giving up"

On occasions in the past when they did complain, the platform had said there had not been a breach “and you end up giving up.” The stress does take its toll at times, she admitted, the hardest part was whenever threats mentioned their children. “We want to protect them.” 

Both of their families live in Derry and were aware of some of the threats. “They do worry. James’ mammy is a big worrier. It’s hard for them not to be here.” Ms McClean said that the FAI had come out with a statement of support “which is lovely, they have always looked after us.” 

She said she wanted people to understand her husband and his beliefs and that “He’s not anti-British, lay off him". 

The British media have played a “massive role” said Ms McClean, in how they portrayed her husband and in people’s opinion of him. People did not understand him and the media did not help by always referring to the poppy incident and calling him ‘the controversial football star.’ 

“He doesn’t regret his stance. He has very strong beliefs and he’s done well to stick to his beliefs. If he were to change his position now it would be even more of an insult," she said. 

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