Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny explains her attitude to wearing a poppy in an article in today’s Times that may be more upsetting for Nationalists than Unionists.

As an Irishwoman, I am not at all hostile, either, to the poppy-wearing Ulster Unionists. Indeed, if asked to name the most decent politician in all Ireland, I would probably cite David Trimble, whom I like, and who I truly believe is honest. Objectively and logically, I also like and admire the legacy of the British Empire. I have done some research on Catholic missionaries in Africa and Asia and I’ve been impressed by the enlightened attitudes that the Empire often helped to promote in these parts of the world. I thought Benjamin Zephaniah showed ignorance of history when he refused an honour because it was associated with the British Empire, denouncing imperial rule as cruel and oppressive: if he had read certain accounts of missionaries trying to stop little girls of 9 being sold into a dubious marriage or widows being saved from the funeral pyre by the intervention of the Imperial Crown, surely he would not take such an ill-informed view.The British Empire was often a force for good. This is the analysis of my rational mind.

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