James McClean deletes Twitter account after remark about North sparks wave of abuse
JAMES McCLEAN deleted his Twitter account yesterday in response to death threats from irate Northern Ireland fans in the wake of his call-up to Euro 2012.
The Derry native consistently highlighted the high levels of abuse he received on the social media site since his rise to prominence and his decision to pledge his international allegiance to Ireland.
There were further instances on Monday when McClean revealed his delight at earning a slot in Giovanni Trapattoni's 23-man squad for the finals. The 23-year-old responded by mocking the fact that Northern Ireland won't be competing in Poland next month.
Over the course of the day, the Sunderland winger was targeted by a minority of irate users from the North with one Twitter user -- who subsequently deleted his account -- saying: "I'll make sure you get shot when you set foot back in god's country."
Another poster from Northern Ireland added: "You deserve to be shot for that comment!! Your (sic) playing for Ireland and not the country you were born in."
No action has been taken about the tweets, but there are examples of individuals being prosecuted for comments made using Twitter.
In March, a student from Swansea was jailed for remarks he made about Fabrice Muamba in the aftermath of the Bolton's man near-death experience.
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, a Catholic from Derry who represented Northern Ireland, had warned McClean about his use of Twitter.
The Creggan lad's profile picture was a snap of himself holding a plaque with the inscription 'Welcome to Free Derry' -- a gesture which wouldn't be appreciated in some quarters.
It's understood that the ex-Derry City man had grown tired at the abuse, and finally agreed that he needed to keep a low profile and avoid controversy.
Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne said that the club was considering if they would do anything with regard to the death threats: "Naturally any incidents of this nature are treated with the utmost seriousness and the club is looking into this matter carefully."
One Irish player who remains on Twitter -- albeit with sparing use -- is James McCarthy, and he last night thanked the well-wishers who offered support as the news emerged that he would miss Euro 2012 to spend time with his sick father, Willie.
"Thanks a lot everyone for your support, thoughts and prayers," said the Wigan man. "Much appreciated."