‘Went nuts shouting abuse!’ Poppy seller attacked at her stall in Tesco speaks out

‘Went nuts shouting abuse!’ Poppy seller attacked at her stall in Tesco speaks out
GBN Exclusive Poppy seller attacked speaks out about her ordeal 101123
Harvey Gough

By Harvey Gough

Published: 10/11/2023

- 11:49

Poppy seller Roberta McNally said the support she's had since has been 'totally and utterly overwhelming'

A poppy seller has spoken out after being verbally abused whilst selling poppies in a supermarket in Lurgan, near Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Roberta McNally, a veteran herself who has been selling poppies for 15 years to raise money for the Royal British Legion, was stationed in a Tesco when a group of angry locals began to berate her.

In video of the incident, one woman can be heard to refer to poppy sellers as ‘RUC murderers!’, in reference to the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

The woman continued her tirade, saying: "No, I'm not accepting this! I don't accept this. As a member of the Catholic community in this town. Would I be able to sell...IRA badges?”

Roberta McNally

Roberta McNally speaks with GB News' Dougie Beattie about her clash in Tesco

GB News

Roberta spoke with GB News’ Northern Ireland reporter Dougie Beattie to give her side of the clash.

“Well, I was just in Tesco that day and I was doing what I normally do and we could notice at the sidelines there was two guys who just didn't look right. So I stayed to see what was going to happen. And then they stood for a long time and then one of them came over and started to give us a bit of abuse about some of the stuff that was on the table - RUC and UDR stuff.

“Then later on that afternoon, the woman in question who's on the video, which has been shared all over social media, she came in and just went nuts with verbal abuse, shouting all over the shop and then calling for security whenever she had finished.

“I don't know what she thought security was going to do, but she called for the security. She called us UDR murderers and RUC murderers.”


Poppy stall

In video posted online, Roberta was accused of selling 'badges for murderers'

The poppy stall volunteer was accused of selling 'badges for murderers'

Dougie asked about the response Roberta has had since the video spread on social media. “What happened in Tesco was, you know, she doesn't act on behalf of ordinary decent people,” Roberta replied.

“And that was evident this morning when a woman come up to me and she says ‘I’m from the Catholic community and I apologise for what happened, but she wasn't speaking on my behalf’. I mean, there are lots of very, very decent Catholics out there.”

“It means everything to me. The support that I've had is just totally and utterly overwhelming. The other night I had to switch my phone off because I was getting very emotional about the support that I've been getting and it just totally overwhelmed me. I woke up to literally hundreds of messages, a lot of them from people I don't even know, but they were willing to support me.

“And also it has done, in a roundabout way, good for the Poppy Appeal because I'm near out of stock because people are coming from all over the province to support Lurgan Poppy Appeal. Yesterday we collected twice as much as what we would have on a normal day.

A collection of poppies

Poppy sellers have been raising money for the Royal British Legion in the lead up to Remembrance Day


Roberta explained where the money collected goes: “The money goes straight to the London, but it also then comes back to the veterans and that's why we raise the money to help the veterans who have been injured during wars, and maybe there are some of the homeless veterans, and it all goes straight to help veterans.”

“Some of the older generation who would have collected for years are now getting that bit older and the younger generation coming through don't seem to to want to know so much about poppies. You get the odd kid who does want to know, but it is very difficult, I rely on on my generation to, you know, to go out and collect for the Poppy, Poppy Appeal.”

On whether the incident has put Roberta off selling poppies, she said: “I'll be back when you've just finished this interview. I have been back since, and I will be back again because, I mean, I'm very, very passionate about what I do and I've always been very passionate about remembrance

Providing a final update after the interview, Dougie commented: "Roberta has been shaken up slightly for it but she’s no wallflower, she was ex-service herself and she gave us exclusively that interview. And she is right now back in Tesco's selling poppies once more.”

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