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I'm not surprised by sectarian abuse of McClean

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the reaction of some Northern Ireland 'fans' to the decision of Derry-born James McClean to opt to play for the Republic in preference to the north is the fact that they even express surprise (News, May 11).

The issuing of death threats to James McClean because of his religion is a continuation of the sectarian cancer endemic in the north. A brief perusal of football supporters' history north of the border should suffice.

In 2003, following years of vile, sectarian abuse, current Glasgow Celtic manager and ex-Northern Ireland footballer Neil Lennon was threatened by loyalists and, as a consequence, decided never to play football for Northern Ireland again.

In 2007, in Coleraine, a group of children from Dublin who were competing in the Milk Cup were subjected to a sectarian attack and had to be relocated.

In February 2007, a survey by researchers at the University of Ulster suggested Northern Ireland was one of the most intolerant places in the Western world.

In addition, an article in the German magazine Der Spiegel (March 2005) branded Belfast "the world's most racist city". Ignorant, homophobic outbursts by some current and former politicians could be added to this list. This is not to say that we in the south do not have our own bigots and racists. But we do not tend to elect them to our legislative assembly.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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