Hartlepool United kit makers face backlash over annual Remembrance shirt from Irish Republicans

The makers of Hartlepool United’s kit have faced backlash from Irish Republican groups over their annual Remembrance shirts.
Hartlepool United's 2020 Remembrance Day shirt.Hartlepool United's 2020 Remembrance Day shirt.
Hartlepool United's 2020 Remembrance Day shirt.

Irish firm O’Neills has produced football and rugby tops honouring the British armed forces including for Pools.

The Hartlepool United shirt features an RAF Spitfire emblazoned across its torso to commemorate the Battle of Britain 80th anniversary and changes the club’s ‘Never Say Die’ motto for ‘lest we forget’.

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But the Anti-Imperialist Action Ireland group tweeted a picture of the Pools shirts in calling for people to boycott O’Neills.

The group accused the shirt makers of ‘collaborating with the forces of the British occupation’

And the far-left political party Saoradh said it had been brought to its attention that O’Neills has been manufacturing clothing with ‘symbols of war and imperialism’ on them.

In a letter to O’Neills posted on the Facebook page of Saoradh’s Dublin branch, the organisation said: “We highlighted this on some of our social media platforms and we were overwhelmed with the responses of disappointment, hurt and anger at your decision to carry this range of clothing.

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"We urge you to think ethically as company and not turn your backs on communities in Ireland and further afield that have suffered at the hands of the British Army.”

A spokeswoman for O’Neills Irish International Sports Company said: “As a leading sportswear manufacturer, we supply customers all over the world with a varied range of playing and leisure wear.

“Our state-of-the-art production process allows our contracted buyers on occasion to design and customise kits in a style which they feel will help meet their customer demand.

“O’Neills endeavour to meet the requirements of all our customers wherever possible.”

Hartlepool United has so far not commented on the backlash.

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The club has had special shirts produced and worn by players at Remembrance time for a number of years.

At the time of this year’s shirt launch, Hartlepool United’s Acting Executive Director Martin Jesper said: “This is a tradition that deserves its continuation so we can show our respect to all service personnel.

"Our respect goes to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The Battle of Britain design was decided upon after consultation with supporter group representatives.

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The team are planning to wear it for their match against Wrexham at Victoria Park on Tuesday, November 17.

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