Sunderland’s James McClean leaves twitter after Wolfe Tones row

editorial image

Sunderland and ex-Derry City star James McClean has deactivated his twitter account after being embroiled in controversy over publicly declaring his love of pro-republican songs. However before that, he used his twitter account to hit back at East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell’s criticism of him for publicly promoting a song voicing support for the IRA.

Earlier this month Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill voiced concern about the player’s return to the social networking site, following earlier incidents.

Then during an exchange on twitter on Friday of last week the Republic of Ireland player said he’d be listening to rebel-rousing band, The Wolfe Tones on his way to the weekend’s match, and that his favourite song was Broad Black Brimmer, which talks about holsters lying empty “but not for long” and taking up arms for Irish freedom.

During the exchange, the Wolfe Tones asked the player if he would appear on stage with them at the Millennium Forum in April, and he replied: “would actually be amazing thanks”.

On Monday both the footballer and the band criticised Mr Campbell. The Wolfe Tones - who also sing a song called The Celtic Symphony, in which the chorus involves chanting ‘Ohh ah, Up the Ra’, told the MP their songs reflected historical events and that he was welcome to attend a concert to “for a lesson in history”.

Speaking about Friday’s tweeting exchange, Mr Campbell said it was up to Sunderland manager, Martin O’Neill to decide what course of action to take following James McClean’s “latest gaffe”.

“He has previously engaged in totally inappropriate twitter exchanges with Northern Ireland fans, then he was the only player out of 22 on the pitch last November who declined to wear a poppy on his football top for Remembrance Day.

“As someone playing football at a professional level for Sunderland, McClean should be an example to young people. This song’s lyrics are openly pro IRA, which is steeped in a desire to use the gun and terrorism. Young people should be taught the folly of terrorism...

“IRA terrorism in Northern Ireland and across the British Isles has claimed thousands of lives.”

The MP said promotion of songs like ‘Broad Black Brimmer’ was “utterly inappropriate”.

He continued: “It is obviously up to his manager, fellow Ulsterman Martin O’Neill, who has already had cause to reprimand him on previous occasions, to decide what course of action to take now.

“Three simple words should suffice, ‘Stick to Football’. If he doesn’t heed this then a final three words should be given, ‘Pack Your Bags’.”

Mr McClean has reacted on his twitter account, on which he says he is from ‘Free Derry’, saying: “Accordin to gregory campbell i shouldnt be allowed to listen to wolftones ha.. someone give greg a tissue and a big hug from me”.