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united voice Ireland legend Paul McGrath leaps to James McClean's defence after latest abuse

Lancashire Police arrested a man on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence last week after McClean reportedly suffered anti-Irish abuse during a match

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James McClean: Vocal in highlighting sectarian abuse from the stands

James McClean: Vocal in highlighting sectarian abuse from the stands

James McClean: Vocal in highlighting sectarian abuse from the stands

Ireland legend Paul McGrath has given his full backing to James McClean, after the winger was subject to more vile abuse in a Wigan game earlier this month.

Lancashire Police arrested a man on suspicion of a racially-aggravated public order offence last week after Republic of Ireland international McClean reportedly suffered anti-Irish abuse during a match.

The 21-year-old was arrested during Accrington Stanley’s home match with Wigan as McClean went to take a corner at the Clayton Stand end occupied by home fans.

Police moved in after complaints were made by a section of Wigan supporters to nearby stewards.

Now McGrath has given his backing to McClean, as he suggested abuse from the terraces has no place in football.

"I am sorry to hear of James McClean getting more anti-Irish abuse from the stands of late," Sunday World columnist McGrath told us.

"I keep in touch with James, and send him the odd message of support, when he gets himself into the usual November hassle over wearing the poppy. But it is not that time of year – yet.

"As a person of colour and a Manchester United player for a lot of my career, I was no stranger to a particular form of stick from fans.

"At the time there was not the emphasis on anti-racism that there is in football now.

"Yet curiously I never heard anything anti-Irish, even though there was not peace in Northern Ireland at the time.

"Of course I was often called ‘Paddy’, but that was just football.

"Back in my day, every Scottish footballer was Jock and every Welsh one was Taff - and us lads were Paddy – that was just the inside of an English football dressing-room at the time. There was nothing sinister to it.

"I think the fact that we spoke English was a huge thing. It meant we were all just accepted: remember there was nothing like the number of African and South American players at the top level that there are now.

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"Ok, Chris Hughton and myself were a bit different – and we heard it. But never anti-Irish stuff of the sort James has to endure all too often now.

"James has explained clearly why he doesn’t wear the poppy. It is used to raise funds for the welfare of ALL ex-British servicemen and women, not just those who served in World War One and Two.

"When you come from the heart of Derry City, that difference is huge.

"It is not just a matter of semantics, it is a deeply held feeling in James’ home town. It should be respected."

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