Ryan Byrne/INPHO Ireland's James McClean.
Online abuse

'It said ‘I hope your kids get coronavirus' and 'I hope they die in a house fire’' - Patrick McClean defends brother James

The Ireland winger was fined two weeks’ wages by his club Stoke City last week for an ill-judged Instagram post.

PATRICK MCCLEAN has defended his brother James and hit out at those who send the Ireland winger vile online abuse about his wife and children. 

The Stoke City footballer posted an ill-judged picture of himself sitting in front of his two kids wearing a balaclava with the words ‘today’s school lesson – history’ on his Instagram story last week. 

The image was taken down, but McClean was handed a fine of two weeks wages by the Championship club and told to delete his account

The Derry native — who is outspoken about his political views — has been a target for internet trolls and opposing fans for several years now. He is regularly criticised for choosing not to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day in Britain. 

However, his brother Patrick, who plays for NIFL Premiership side Glentoran, says messages aimed at his family need to stop. 

“James can take stick all day but when it comes to the kids, that’s too far,” Patrick told Simon Collins in the Derry Journal. “It’s been eight years of non-stop abuse, day-in, day-out. He’s tried to have a joke and he’s been fined two weeks’ wages and made to delete his account and his kids are now getting death threats.

“I’m defending my brother. I’m defending my family. Those are my nieces and nephew who are being talked about. It’s always bad press he gets but nothing can justify the death threats or the nasty abuse his family and kids get. That’s just not right.”

Patrick added: “One [message] said ‘I hope your kids get coronavirus’ and ‘I hope they die in a house fire’. There has to be something mentally wrong with you to write something like that. To have so much hatred inside you to write that is unbelievable.

“James is one of those people who brushes stuff off but there’s only so much you can take. He can take abuse directed at himself and I’m the same. You don’t mind if someone is hammering you or giving you abuse but when it comes to our kids, you’ve crossed the line.”

patrick-mcclean-celebrates-scoring-the-winning-goal Brian Little / INPHO Patrick McClean plays for Glentoran in the NIFL Premiership. Brian Little / INPHO / INPHO

In relation to the Instagram post, Patrick believes it is a case of double standards when it comes to James and others. 

“If anyone thinks James has actually sat his kids down and taught them about it [The Troubles], they didn’t really get the joke,” he said. “Look at Declan Rice, when he was playing for Ireland he wrote ‘Up the Ra’ and not a word was said.

“Alan Partridge did a sketch on a TV show recently singing ‘Come out Ye Black and Tans’ and again it’s accepted as a humour. But as soon as James does something, it goes crazy.”

Originally published at 11.29

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