Taoiseach’s shamrock poppy
Sir, – Leo Varadkar is not an anonymous citizen; he is the leader of the Government of the independent Republic of Ireland. It is inappropriate for him as such to adopt and identify with the national commemoration of another state.
Commemorating dead of the first World War has become an obsession with some; there is nothing mature or modern about making such a divisive gesture.
If the State wishes to honour war dead, let it develop a uniquely Irish symbol and do so on an appropriate day, such as Easter Monday. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – It was refreshing to see the Taoiseach wear a “shamrock poppy” on his lapel in the Dáil on Tuesday. Too often are the 210,000 Irish men and women forgotten about who served in the British armed forces during the first World War – especially the 35,000 who ultimately perished.
With many European politicians reverting to a type of nationalism not too dissimilar to that seen prior to the 1914-1918 conflict, Leo Varadkar’s gesture shows admirable leadership both in not bowing to narrow nationalist sentiment and in commemorating a war that still, unfortunately, sits somewhat uncomfortably in the Irish national psyche.
Despite the challenges that Britain’s leaving the European Union brings with it, Anglo-Irish relations remain strong.
Small acts like this in recognition of common endeavour and purpose between the two countries, have the ability to further strengthen ties and should be commended. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Whether Leo Varadkar acknowledges it or not, the poppy is an emblem of the army of the powerful neighbour that exploited and impoverished us. This is the army that left a bloody swathe across the world in its colonial wake, from Amritsar to the Bogside, from gassing the Kurds to killing, maiming and torturing 90,000 Kenyans, from fire-bombing civilians in Dresden to putting Boer women and children in concentration camps. The list goes on.
To use such a symbol is disrespectful to the victims of war; to superimpose it on our national emblem is insulting. The Taoiseach should apologise. – Yours, etc,