Lack of poppy was insult to war dead
Another memorial service attended by our Government and still no sign of a poppy on the Irish Government’s wreath. Remembrance Sunday was marked by a sterile, bare, green wreath by Leo Varadkar in representation of the Irish state at the Enniskillen massacre site. What ignorance, what jingoism, what retardation, in a place where unity is called for in remembering the dead.
The poppy-shamrock worn by the Taoiseach was not on the wreath, just the usual bland wreath with nothing on it. Far from being a tribute to the fallen, it is close to being an insult to others who recognise the international war symbol. The fact that not one single poppy appeared on the Irish Government’s Enniskillen wreath is all the proof anyone needs of how far there is to go with British-Irish relations. Despite the passage of the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement and its two-decade age, it was too much trouble for the Irish delegation to place a single poppy on their wreath. It symbolises too why power-sharing talks are in deep trouble and enormous division on this island — marked by the usual green wreath when all other wreaths were adorned with poppies. Poppies are not a British symbol. They grew in the fields of Flanders during the WW2 where heavy fighting had taken place.
The poppy is a simple touch and a bit of colour to what would otherwise be a fairly dull wreath. Obviously, Remembrance Sunday in Enniskillen is twofold in remembering the war dead of WW2 and the massacred people in Enniskillen when they were murdered by paramilitaries. But as always, the Irish wreath stands out for what now could be regarded as a lack of unity on remembering the dead. Even at the Cenotaph in London, an Irish minister at times has laid a green wreath, with hundreds of poppied wreaths all around it.
The British have made it a symbol to their war dead, but the best we can do is a bare, green, wreath and a shamrock-poppy which can barely be seen on our Taoiseach’s lapel. Putting a poppy on the Irish wreath may enhance British/Irish relations in these difficult European times? How strange indeed it is that a simple flower has ended up being a major source of division on these islands, even though it is used to remember the dead. Not even in death can nations be one for a memorial service, proving that much more work needs to be done to heal old wounds and old animosities between British and Irish. The poppy is also a valuable charitable tool for collecting funding for the veterans to keep their legions and clubs going. Irish and British servicemen and women who fought in wars have benefitted from such donations. A poppy or two on the Irish wreath is not asking the world and is symbolic of the great suffering in conflict. Some Irish veterans also wear the poppy. Remembrance Sunday should be called “ignorance Sunday” when the Irish Government attend. Maurice Fitzgerald
Shanbally Co Cork