Jude Collins

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Frank and his poppy

Oh dear. It’s that time of year again. Poppy time.  When those who don’t wear the poppy are depicted as backward-looking anti-Brit bigots, stuffed with spleen and blind to the sacrifice of their fellow-countrymen. When politicians like Fine Gael’s Frank Feighan can wear their poppy with pride in the Dail, to show how open-minded and progressive he is. “We have well and truly moved on from that dark, bloody era in the North before the evolution of the peace process” Frank says. “Thankfully, the peace dividend has delivered a new politics which has allowed us to publicly respect all traditions on this island”. And that’s why Frank’s wearing a poppy.

And why not?  I expect at Easter, Frank will sport an Easter lily, to commemorate the courage of the men who gave their lives so that ‘this island’ could govern itself.  I shouldn’t be surprised if Frank doesn’t call for all RTÉ presenters to copy his example and wear an Easter lily on air... And pigs might what, you say? Fly?

Ah. Now I get it. “All traditions on this island” ( go on, Frank - go mad and call it ‘Ireland’) really means “certain traditions on this island”. That’d explain why Frank and other southern politicians were so quiet when a BBC presenter in Belfast a few years ago was, um, persuaded that her non-poppy-wearing thinking was part of a false consciousness   and if she wanted to go on presenting she’d be well advised to make that false consciousness true. So she did. Saw her wearing on the other evening.

Of course, Frank may not have  heard about the white poppy campaign in England, where a lot of people want to distance themselves from the militaristic nature of Remembrance ceremonies.  He almost certainly hasn’t heard Channel 4’s Jon Snow who talks of ‘poppy fascism’, such is the pressure on presenters to toe the poppy line. 

Here’s the thing, Frank  If  you want to make public your views and loyalties to the rest of us (and your colleagues in the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly), that’s fine. But if you do, you should be ready to speak out with equal boldness in defence of those who, for whatever reason, choose not to wear a poppy. And speak out even more boldly for those who choose to wear an Easter lily on any part of' this island.‘  And, as with the poppy,  maybe lead by example.  Get your Easter lily in place, take a stroll down  Sandy Row or the main street of Aghohill, and you'll almost certainly learn something about respect for all traditions on this island. 


  1. Jude
    I understand the BBC World Service presenters have been barred from wearing a poppy.
    Fascists eh!
    I don't wear one myself and I have never been called to task for it.
    It may be it's only an issue for you and the BBC, and as usual the rest of us exercise common sense and get on with our lives.

  2. The poppy is merely a flower that symbolizes remembrance for ALL the dead of the Great War, World War 2 and subsequent conflicts. It is worn as a symbol of remembrance throughout the UK, Canada, the USA, Russia and most of the Commonwealth Countries.

    Regrettably it is a political football here in Ireland and that is so wrong especially when one considers Ireland's contribution in the 2 major Wars or other subsequent conflicts.

    The wearing of a Poppy as a symbol of remembrance is personal choice. No one should be forced, coerced or manipulated to wear the flower. Similarly no one should be ridiculed for not wearing one.

    However I don't see how you can compare the international symbol of remembrance to Global War Dead with the Easter Lilly which symbolizes but one section of Ireland's dead? It is not like for like.

  3. Zzzzzzzzzz

    Ridiculous to try an equate a poppy with an Easter lily.

    One commemorates those killed while serving in the armed forces. The lily remembers those involved in illegitimate violence as members of illegal gangs.

    1. Odd, then, that QE2 honoured the "illegitimate violence" of "illegal gangs" by bowing to their memory at the Garden of Remembrance.

      "Zzzzzzzzzz" indeed.

  4. The poppy thing has been doing my head in this past few years (well that and the inclusion of British Military personnel at every sporting and media fixture going - learned quite a bit from the yanks in the past decade when it comes to domestic phsyops...)

    2 Things have however struck me:
    - firstly should Irish Republicans not embrace the white poppy as a sign of remembrance and peace, yet not supporting British colonial violence - surely that would pull a rug out from under somebody?
    - secondly, if the easter lily is REGARDED as a shinner thing (lets be honest, it is), then in the run up to 2016 could a new charity (not national graves, same as above) not be established, a new easter lily design and something which all Irish people could wear in proud remembrance, neutral of party political tones and the money raised even go toward a "peace and reconciliation" fund of some sort...

  5. Excellent article Jude. Mr plonker TD should perhaps, after surviving his walks, take a further stroll around various parts of the world such as Iraq & Afghanistan wearing his bloody poppy & see what the millions of victims of british military bravery think of his solidarity gesture. Speaking of bravery or lack thereof, Clinton Hilary forgot to mention (during her recent outburst) the brave US personnel stuck in the US who have to have extreme bravery in order to blow men, women & children to pieces with their Drones.

  6. Who decides which group is illegal or not illegal. Who decided that the U.D.A. was a perfectly legitimate organisation even though they were involved in murderous sectarian violence with the assistance of the supposedly legitimate "British" establishment until it became too embarrassing for them to continue. Your right Royal Mrs Windsor reckons the I.R.A. were perfectly legitimate. Does this mean that the British Army were terrorists? The answer of course is yes. They were then and they are now. The butchers apron is nothing to be proud of.

  7. James McClean - Discuss...

  8. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2231071/James-McClean-refuses-wear-poppy.html

  9. Jude;I presume you will be wearing an Easter lily next year!!

  10. http://www.colerainetimes.co.uk/news/local/d-day-for-legion-1-4501845