Will you be wearing a poppy or some rosemary this week?

Bertie Ahern on his visit to the Somme Heritage Centre at Conlig in North Down earlier in the week said that the sacrifices of all traditions need to be remembered.While south of the border, the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Day Appeal has traditionally met with mixed reactions, with many seeing the National Day of Commemoration as the event to used to remember those Irish who have died in British uniform in WWI and WWII, not surprisingly, Poppy Day remains the Day of Remembrance of choice north of the border.

However, Philipp Orr of the Green Party, aware of the divisive feelings towards the Poppy, believes a small sprig or bouquet of thyme and rosemary is capable of being worn in the lapels of relatives, descendants and political representatives on both sides of the border, not to transcend the poppy but to “offer another and equally valuable way of signifying grief and respect”.

According to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, “over the years, in the Irish consciousness, the poppy and Remembrance Day have become associated less with respect for those who died in war and wrongly confused with a statement of political allegiance. Recently, some commentators and historians have begun to examine and evaluate the part played by Irish soldiers in the Great War. Some attention is now being given to the sacrifice of the 35,500 Irish people who died during the War, the suffering of the 200,000 who watched their comrades die and the grief of the loved ones who mourned for the lives lost.”

Mark Crum described his experience of a controversial Remembrance Day march in Bellaghy as “one of the most tragically ridiculous things I’d ever seen in my life”.

If the Poppy is too hot a symbol for all traditions, it was too hot for Sinn Féin and Westlife when their record company supported it, and the rosemary doesn’t suffice, how about about the Irish government sending a wreath of orange flowers and white lilies to the London Cenotaph with the incription “in memory of the brave” as Eamon De Valera’s Fianna Fáil government did in 1938?

Or is all we need more gestures along the lines of Alex Maskey’s, when he laid a laurel wreath for those who fell at the Somme.

Whatever happens, something has to be done to stop the National Day of Remembrance going the same way as Christmas, in that it seems to get celebrated earlier every year.

The Match of the Day team were wearing theirs a full two weeks early, after they were handed out by the production team (do you have to wear one if you work for the BBC?).

  • GavBelfast

    What is required is respect for those who choose to wear poppies and those who choose not to.

    Hopefully, those who do wear them are doing so for the right motives, but only they will truly know that.

    As I understand it, the Royal British Legion launched this year’s Poppy Appeal on Monday 24 October, so I suppose it was appropriate to buy and wear one after that.

    I don’t know about the BBC guidelines,but it does seem to be BBC policy for the symbol to be worn by all presenters for two weeks upto and including Remembrance Day/Remembrance Sunday, whichever is later. I don’t think Ulster Television has a rule as such.

  • I for one will be wearing mine, not so much with pride but with gratitude.

  • Conor

    The British Army had a disgusting policy towards the Irish serving in their army during the war particulary during the Somme. That of sending the Irish ‘Paddies’ as it were over the trenches first only to be mown down by machine gun fire. I will remember those dead but wont wear a poppy, a truly one sided unionist symbol.

  • Brian Boru

    Even if the whole point of WWI is hard to justify,those who died in the war should be saluted for their bravery – including by us Catholics. As should those who died in the justifiable war against Hitler and Japan. Especially since the majority on the island who fought in both wars were from a Catholic/Nationalist background anyway.

  • ch in texas

    I don’t often echo Brian Boru’s words, but I will today. Honor the dead, and leave today’s disagreements until later.

  • lestweforget

    I wear my poppy to display my thanks and to remind anyone who cares to notice that we all, including southern Irish, have freedom from fascist tyranny because of the sacrifices of those who went before us. I am a southern Irishman. The poppy is not an emblem of unionism, only a symbol of solidarity that does not threaten and should offend no one. How many sons of Ulster, the landed ascendancy etc were lost on the Somme, in the Bulge? The wars were not sectarian in the losses that were suffered, though revisionists may seek to portray them as such.

  • I have had family who fought in both wars but I will never wear a Poppy. The Poppy is not just a symbol for WWI or WWII; it is a symbol of remembrance for every British soldier that died including those who murdered Catholics in the North.

    I would like a neutral symbol for ALL of the victims including the German men and women who fought.

    It is a British symbol in this part of the world, a tarnished symbol!

  • freedomfries

    The threat from fascism did not end with the second world war. It has to be confronted today, everyday and everywhere.

  • D’Oracle

    This ought not be reduced to some kind of obscene baiting game ; the facts are that many Irish people have given their lives for lots of different causes – some of them neither Irish or those of our friends.

    All any of us can do is reflect on this and then do whatever we think is fitting in their honour at the right time.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    d’Oracle. I read about an Irishman supposedly fighting with the Iraqi insurgents the other day.

    I also saw a pic earlier of a commemoration yesterday in L/Derry with a Union flag and an Irish tricolour at the head of the colour party.

    And just now on the History Channel there was a bit about the effectiveness of the German machine gun at the Somme. The commentator remarked that the generals couldn’t think of anything else to do, except throw the soldiers forward to near-certain death. It quoted Churchill saying that it was (paraphrasing here) stupid to send men into battle to take on machine guns with their chests.

    Pretty chilling stuff.

  • Brian

    The Poppy has become a symbol of Unionist supremacists and their revisionist cheerleaders in the south. I appreciate that Brits wear the poppy in remembrance of those who died in both World wars, but in occupied Ireland the symbol has been hijacked by sectarian Orange bigots. Incidentally, can we expect the Greens offer suggestions on how we should commemorate Ireland’s patriot republican dead or are they happy with the Easter Lilly?

  • Alan

    *I appreciate that Brits wear the poppy in remembrance of those who died in both World wars, but in occupied Ireland the symbol has been hijacked by sectarian Orange bigots*

    That is precisely the kind of mindset that we need to get over if things are to move forward in this society. We all choose our ways to remember and that choice should be respected. Your comment on the *hijacking* of the poppy is itself immeasurably crass and pointedly sectarian, bearing in mind people’s intent when they remember.

  • Dutch

    Many Irish people fought in WW1 and WW2 for the British but that hardly means that Irish people should be remember this as a great sacrifice.
    My relatives fought in the British army because they paid a good wage, it had nothing to do with politics. To this day my home town in County Clare sends young men to serve in the British army. They have no loyalty to Britain, there are just few opportunities available locally for people with their level of education.

    I have heard Britons say many times along the lines of ‘We would be living in a German speaking country eating bratwurst if it hadn’t been for our boys in WW1 and WW2.’ Well, I was brought up in an English speaking country watching ‘Coronation Street’. I am not going to be grateful that one set of colonizers spared us being colonized by another set. Let Britain mourn its war dead while I mourn the country Ireland could have been (Iceland would be a nice example).

    Wear your poppy with pride if you are proud of the British military history but don’t expect non-British people to share your feelings.

  • mnob

    Dutch good choice – Iceland which was ‘occupied’ first by Norway and then Denmark and only achieved home rule in 1918. The Iceland which has as a language a purer form of Norwegian than Norway has.

  • Bogexile

    ‘it is a symbol of remembrance for every British soldier that died including those who murdered Catholics in the North’

    CG – tedious agit-prop nonsense as usual. The symbolism of poppies as you well know is that they carpeted those parts of Northern France and Belguim where Irishmen died side by side. It was said of Vietnam that there are ‘no athiests in the foxholes’. I don’t imagine there was much sullen ideological drivel in the trenches where the thing that united people about to die was their humanity in the face of what was an appalling waste of human life.

  • J McConnell

    Dutch

    Or should I say Mr Walsh.

    Ever wonder about the origins of your paternal surname?

    I believe it originates from the Middle Irish for someone from Wales or Brittany – or someone who is a Briton.

    So I suppose that makes you, well, ever so slightly through your direct paternal line, British.

    Just thought you would be interested…

    Were are all the descendants of colonists here in Ireland, its just a matter of when out ancestors got here first..

  • seabhac siulach

    Personally, my problem with the whole poppy ‘thing’ is that the commemoration too often comes across as a bland glorification of war. A glorification of war in which only the dead of one side (the victorious one, strange that…) are raised up on a pedestal. From these commemorations there does not seem to be a sense that war is an awful thing, to be avoided at all costs, merely that one should emptily honour (glorify) those that took part. A facile and cheap understanding of war and its consequences. It is these old-fashioned attitudes that make it easier of course to get another generation to sign up and sacrifice themselves if necessary for Queen and country. Look, they can say, you too can be honoured. Honoured and dead, that is, with your name carved on a piece of marble and to have crocodile tears shed on your behalf by the ‘great and good’ that sent you off to die so cheaply in the first place. All a useful exercise indeed for army recruiters, these ‘commemorations’. Strange, indeed, that they do not have half as many commemorations in Germany/Japan…or could it be these commemorations are little more than trite patriotic displays of triumphalism wrapped up in a hypocritical cloak of ‘respecting our dead’.
    If it were truly a commemoration, and not an excuse for a bit of British Empire retro then it would be more inclusive, more low key, less bombastic and more humble. More like a funeral, in fact…with ‘never again’ to be the mantra. Honour the memory of the dead but do not confuse this with the glorification of the act of war as is too often the case in these islands.

    By the way, I have had many of my family fight and die in many wars, 1st, 2nd World Wars, etc., both in the British and American armies.

  • Dutch

    J McConnell,

    I wouldn’t read too much into surnames. Walsh is a very common Irish surname, it is stretching it to say that we are all descended from colonists!

    My point is that I as a person am not so happy with the Ireland we now have (split in two, English-speaking, increasingly anglicized). I believe that people from other small countries like Iceland or Finland have more to be happy about as these countries have managed to preserve a uniqueness that Ireland has lost. Ireland’s misfortune was to have been colonized by Britain which enacted many policies designed to eradicate the indigenous culture.

    That’s why I do not choose to specifically commemorate Britain’s war dead though I would be more than happy to remember all of those from all sides who senselessly lost their lives in the world wars.

  • SWM

    Seabhac,

    My whole point was that I don’t see the point in this. If you want to wear a poppy then go ahead, if you don’t – well then don’t. It isn’t a bad thing to wear one, and it isn’t a bad thing not to wear one.

  • Mick Fealty

    Right lads, that’s enough. I’m going cut loads of this back. My apologies if I cut out *some* witty repartee in the process. But you’ve all read the conditions!

  • SWM

    Thankyou 🙂 But it was fun, for a Monday morning anyway 🙂

  • ejh

    But… I was enjoying the pointless mudslinging. As fuckwit SWM says, it’s entertainment for a Monday morning.

  • Mick Fealty

    Maybe. But I’ve work to do. I’d rather not get involved in sorting out a handbag fight this early in the working week.

  • idunnomeself

    seabhac siulach,

    You have just described what rememberence day services are like.

    If you don’t believe me go to one on Sunday and see for yourself.

    No jingoism, no bombast, no celebration.

  • stu

    The Poppy is not a political point unless you make it one by telling everyone you refuse to wear it because it’s a symbol of Brit imperialism. It is mark of respect for those who died and the money you spend on it goes to support those left behind by those that gave their lives so that we could enjoy the freedom to have this debate.

    Dutch- I’m sure you’re not happy about British imperialism in Ireland, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but when we’re talking about the memories of people who died to save you from fascist oppression, it’s very disrespectful to them to slander their loss.

    You say ‘I am not going to be grateful that one set of colonizers spared us being colonized by another set.’ Pathetic. Ireland would not have been spared by the Nazis; she would have crumbled and been living under a dictatorship; no leaving the Commenwealth, no EU, forget about your nice standard of living, and just THINK. Think again about what those boys died for. And be fucking grateful that you’re in a position to dismiss their sacrifice, the Brit imperialist bastards they were, eh?

  • stu

    That should read Commonwealth, apparently the Internet ‘does’ my accent.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    They are fairly funeral-like, for want of a better description. It’s a pity that others don’t commemorate past wars in half as respectable a manner.

  • Michael H

    I won’t be wearing a poppy yet I would like to wear a poppy. Living in a mainly Republican area where “everyone knows everyone” I am sure the day, even the month, would pass without any show of negativity directed my way but sadly anyone seen wearing a poppy would be remembered. I have no doubt that recriminations would be directed at me at a later point in the year, as has happened to others in the past.

  • Dutch

    Stu,

    None of us can ever say what would have happened had history taken a different turn. All that we can look at are the facts of what happened. You are assuming that Ireland would have become an oppressed fascist country had Germany won the war. How can you know that?

    What we do know is that Ireland was colonized by Great Britain. The same country marginalized the indigenous people over hundreds of years and in the process almost wiped out the native language. The same country stood idly by in the 19th century when the Great Famine struck leaving masses to starve in the name of her ‘laissez-faire’ policy.

    I can’t change that history but I am certainly not going to thank Britain for supposedly saving my country from another oppressor especially when the Republic quite rightly stayed neutral during WW2.

    As I say, wear your poppy if you support the British military past but you should appreciate why other people do not regard it as quite such a symbol of freedom.

  • stu

    Dutch

    Look at what happened to your the other countries the Nazis invaded- the first trainload of Germans to arrive in Poland was an SS battalion. Every other country was crushed underfoot and if you think wee ole Eire would have been left alone because it ‘quite rightly’ stayed neutral then you’re foolish at best and seriously, seriously deluded at worst. Judging by the tone of your post I’d say the latter.

    The values I hold dear, those which many of those brave men died for, include freedom of speech and thought, freedoms the Nazis tried to eradicate. You have the right not to wear a poppy, but it is only thanks to those sacrifices that you are able to express yourself thusly.

    I have no great support for the British military tradition as such, but I have a tremendous respect for those that died that we might live, as the saying goes, and if you want to ignore the threat of Nazi Germany invading your precious motherland, then so be it, but more fool you.

  • Dutch

    Stu,

    I guess that I have been deluded then.
    I never realized that southern Irish people should be so grateful to Britain for saving them from the Germans.

    What about northern Irish people, should they also be grateful or does the fact that that the British oppressor hadn’t actually left their part of the island preclude them from such gratitude?
    Would a German Northern Ireland have been even less democratic? We’ll never know if the term Gerhardmanderen could actually have entered our lexicon.

  • stu

    Dutch

    Disregarding the fact that the majority of people in Northern Ireland then and now consider themselves British and it’s mighty hard to oppress yourself, you’re dragging distasteful partisan politics in a disrespectful manner here.

    I’ve said my piece, and if you honestly believe everything you’ve said, may whatever it is you believe in protect you.

  • Mark

    “Wear your poppy with pride if you are proud of the British military history but don’t expect non-British people to share your feelings.”

    I’m not particularly proud of the British military history, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remember those who died, usually because it was their job or they were drafted and not because they necessarily believed in the cause.

    “my problem with the whole poppy ‘thing’ is that the commemoration too often comes across as a bland glorification of war. A glorification of war in which only the dead of one side (the victorious one, strange that…) are raised up on a pedestal.”

    It does concern me that commemoration can slip into glorification, but the idea that only the victorious are remembered is not necessarily true – VE and D-day commemorations routinely involve German officials and if you visit the cemeteries in Normandy you will see German, British, French, Canadian, American and other gravestones bearing crosses, stars and crescents.

    Personally, I think it is enough to wear a poppy on Armistice Day and/or Remembrance Sunday, possibly for the days between as well, it shows you remember without it becoming some kind of yes-I-am-British symbol which I think some people can be guilty of.

  • Dutch

    What I said was indeed partisan. By northern Irish (as opposed to Northern Irish) I meant the Irish minority in the northern state.

    If reminding you of how undemocratic Northern Ireland was under Stormont is distasteful then so be it. You want to remember a Britain that fought for democracy on the one hand but forget that Britain allowed very undemocratic conditions to exist within the United Kingdom.

  • stu

    Dutch

    Two points.

    1) Majority Rule. Rule by minority is known by dictatorship, not vice versa

    2) I didn’t say anything about remember a ‘Britain’. I’m remembering those who died defending your right to say what you are saying now.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “It is a British symbol in this part of the world, a tarnished symbol!”

    Perhaps Mr Gaskin would tell us if this revealing comment, where “British” is synonomous with “tarnished” applies to all British symbols in his opinion- after all, as a supporter of the GFA he is presumably mindful of the obligation on him to respect the cultural identities of others

    Or perhaps we might be told which of our symbols aren’t tarnished in the view of Sinn fein?

  • idunnomeself

    stu

    When I wear my poppy I am also remembering Irish citizens who have died to defend my freedom.

    Not just the British

    and if you wore one you would be remembering Irish people who did that, if they lived north or south, or the Poles, French, Norwegians or Dutch (neutral too, until they got in the way) for that matter. And also those (like the Germans) who fought for honourable personal reasons but who history has shown to be in the wrong.

    But above all it is a symbol to remind us that there must be a better way than wars to solve our problems and that there is no glory in death. Every new batch of politicians needs reminded that real people die horrible deaths in wars. Armistice day is a chance to remember how serious a decision it is to go to war.

  • stu

    Idunnoself-

    I agree with you except on one point- you seem to be under the impression that I said that the Poppy was for the British only. Kindly re-read my points and that should be clear. I won’t be misquoted on something like this; I have made it clear that my respect in the poppy is for the sacrifice, not the nationality.

  • As a teenager, attending a mixed school, I wore a poppy much to the distain of many of my co-religionists. I had, and still have, an avid interest in the Great War, and WW2 in particular.

    I was always amazed at the stories of bravery. No matter what the allied soldiers motives were for fighting, they did allow us the freedom we enjoy today, due to the sacrifices they made during WW2. Of course WW1 was a different story…

    As an 18 year old in N. Ireland, I represented my high school at a wreath laying ceremony at the local war memorial. As the British national anthem started to play I began to feel a bit uneasy (as did the single SDLP representative I’m sure). Then, one by one, different Orange Lodge representatives approached to lay wreaths. I remember some mention of the ‘Ulster Brigades’ but to my amazement nothing was said about the thousands of other Irish men who had perished. To be honest, I felt like I had just been to some kind of Orange military event.

    I never attended another ceremony and I probably wouldn’t wear a poppy either. The whole affair left a bad taste in my mouth. Now I just say a prayer for all the people who suffered horribly during any war.

  • Posted by stu on Nov 07, 2005 @ 01:33 PM:
    *The Poppy is not a political point unless you make it one by telling everyone you refuse to wear it because it’s a symbol of Brit imperialism. It is mark of respect for those who died. *
    …then I expect you to maintain this recognition of symbols when it comes to wearing the Easter Lillies regarding commemoration of 1916; in the spirit of ecumenicalism and parity of esteem.

    *those that gave their lives so that we could enjoy the freedom to have this debate*
    British Imperialism or German Imperialism sounds like the same shite to me. Thank God, the USA (republican land of separation of church and state) came to the rescue in both world wars.

    *Dutch- I’m sure you’re not happy about British imperialism in Ireland, and you’re entitled to your opinion, but when we’re talking about the memories of people who died to save you from fascist oppression, it’s very disrespectful to them to slander their loss. *
    ..again I commend you on your desire for subjective views of those who died. I hope your view will continue come Eastertime.

    *You say ‘I am not going to be grateful that one set of colonizers spared us being colonized by another set.’
    Pathetic. Ireland would not have been spared by the Nazis; she would have crumbled and been living under a dictatorship; no leaving the Commenwealth, no EU, forget about your nice standard of living, and just THINK. *
    Irrelevant. As Dev asked (paraphrasing)…*why would Ireland, recently rid of oppressive colonialists, want to battle for the sake of said colonialist.* The Great War (ironic name) was about…..anyone? A bunch of large, colonial, undemocratic, imperialists sacrificing the plebs and cannon fodder to test their political pacts, battle strategies and industrial-war machinery. Thankfully we weren’t born in those days but it should be recognized that Britain, who celebrate the era of destruction more than most, never saw fit to commemorate the personification (Haig) of the carnage anywhere but in London’s House of Parliament.

    *Think again about what those boys died for. *
    A pay packet and fuck all else (i.e. the good and glory of the imperialist leaders and monarchy).

    *And be fucking grateful that you’re in a position to dismiss their sacrifice, the Brit imperialist bastards they were, eh? *
    No, unfortunates they were – used and abused by King and Kaiser for no good reason. Their memory should be remembered as a disgraceful waste of human life by the governments and leadership and therefore memorials should not run by officialdom. The human costs should be laid at the doors of the monarchies and governments of the time. Making the German population pay financially for the errors of WW1 led to WW2.

  • Whatabout

    Poppies have become what all symbols in Northern Ireland become – symbolic of our petty mindedness. If we wore them on Remembrance Sunday it would be enough for me. The Union Flag has been hijacked as has the Irish Tricolour. If we flew our flags on the relevant days and not leave them there for months / until next year wouldn’t they be more potent. If we only wore our football / soccer / GAA shirts on the day of actual games how much more meaningful would they symbolically have? Instead the overuse of all these leads to them just becoming part of the daily background.

  • I wear the poopy as soon as they go on sail. I do this not to disply Britishness but to disply my recognition of the price of my freedom. I hate to think that I might be passing an old soldier or a war widow on the streets and thus miss sending the message that it matters to me.

  • stu

    Niall

    Wow. You really broke down nearly a decade of conflict there. Fuck. What a pointless waste of life. I never looked at it that way before.

    Rolls eyes.

  • *Niall
    Wow. You really broke down nearly a decade of conflict there. Fuck. What a pointless waste of life. I never looked at it that way before.
    Rolls eyes.
    Posted by stu on Nov 08, 2005 @ 11:58 AM*

    Thanks Stu, you almost make this worthwhile….

    For the slow learners…the following is written in sarcasm:
    Stu, thanks for the eloquent argument and rationale for your viewpoint. I especially appreciate why you think that the Great War’s industrialized slaughter of millions in the first half of the modern era (ie 20th C) was necessary and beneficial for mankind. I liked the way you dismantled my argument that the proletariat of France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Britain benefited from WW1. That Britain’s voluntary entry to WW1 was necessary. How the stalemate wouldn’t have continued if it weren’t for the intervention of the US’s material and industrial productivity. How the British general’s commendable acts brought the suffering to a swift end; resulting in Haig not having only one memorial (in the security of house of parl) in recognition of his orchestration of voluntary acts of suicide / genocide. How the US army was delighted to follow British general’s orders rather than refuse to have anything to do with the incompetent pompous asses.

    How returning working class soldiers in Britain couldn’t find jobs and were dependant on church charity and British Legion rather than being cared for by the governments who’d survived after these same soldiers had risked life and limb.

    Thanks for pointing out that the Anzac soldiers of Gallipolli were only too delighted to ‘no more go waltzing Matilda’ for the honour of being a member of a commonwealth half a world away. Thus maintaining their subjection to the british royalty..?!?

    Thanks for showing that WW1 didn’t initiate the end of the british empire, which came to almost-conclusion (sick counties) after again being saved at the bitter end by Roosevelt repeating Wilson’s acts.

    You pointed by point took apart my concern that the rise of the Nazi was in reaction to the ridiculous reparations imposed by the WW1 victors. (End of sarcasm).

    To sum up Stu….I think that yes the memorials are ridiculous as those that are to blame for the carnage of WW1 and some of WW2 were never held accountable for their crimes. The organizations and entities (ie British Legion, british monarchy) should hold their heads in shame on the 11th Nov and not parade themselves as fellow suffers and soldiers with those who wastefully died in the poppy fields of the Somme.

    The Remembrance is a disgrace, as it doesn’t remember the actions of those responsible for the genocide.

    The victors shouldn’t be allowed write the history and history is too important to be written by the histroians.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    I’ve been wearing my poppy with pride in memory of those who died in two World Wars to keep the United Kingdom, and in particular, Ulster, free from oppression.

    I also remember those killed by republicans in their blind and hate-filled sectarian pogrom against my community. Their campaign for a “United” Ireland would, in reality, have been anything but “United”. If people had acquiesced to republican coercion, the result would have been a country immersed in conflict and strife, tearing itself apart with a civil (not so civil) war.

    I am immensely indebted to those who gave their lives to stop the spread of Fascism, Nazism and more recently, militant Irish Republicanism…

  • CL: can I then take it that you view the poppy as a unionist symbol re the UK, unionism & memories of those killed by RM. This seems to by the same view as that taken by Cathal on Nov 07, 2005 @ 09:35 PM and by Mark on Nov 07, 2005 @ 03:37 PM above (not that I’m saying that they agree this should be the case).

    Then why should non-unionists say that the massacres at the Somme have been hijacked by one side of the population altho both side were unfortunately represented in the graves… http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/fox.htm which is a contemporary account re ‘The Great War”… A motion condemning conscription was opposed by Mr T A McElhinney who maintained the ‘Nationalists of Ireland had remained at home falling into the good jobs vacated by Ulstermen who went to serve their King and Country.”[11] This was to highlight again what had been a running and bitter dispute throughout the war relating to recruitment figures. As early as March 1915 Redmond had maintained that of the 100,000 recruited to that date, 20,000 had been Irish Volunteers and 23,000 Ulster Volunteers and if Britain and the Colonies had been included there were then 250,000 Irishmen in the war. In August of 1918, the Derry Journal quoted figures given to Mr Joe Devlin (in reply to a written question) which he had received from the Under Secretary of War in April 1918. These figures showed that the total recruitment figure for Ulster was 58,000 of which 20,000 were Nationalist, proportionate to their percentage of the population. Furthermore, in the same answer it was revealed that the rest of Ireland recruited 65,000 of which 10,000 were probably Unionist, therefore according to official government statistic 75,000 Nationalists had joined the army, while the total number of Unionists was 48,000. This, Devlin submitted, once and for all exposed the lies and propaganda emanating from both Ulster and England that Protestant Ulster had given everything and the rest of Ireland, nothing. In proof of Devlin’s allegations about propaganda, this section of his speech was reported solely in the Nationalist press.[12]

    Alan re your post on Nov 07, 2005 @ 08:13 AM… We all choose our ways to remember and that choice should be respected. Your comment on the *hijacking* of the poppy is itself immeasurably crass and pointedly sectarian, bearing in mind people’s intent when they remember. There seems to be many who think that the poppy is one-sided and this opinion comes from both sides – CL in the orange corner and possibly Cathal and Mark in the green corner. Chris Gaskin in the very green corner has his strong opinions. Therefore I ask, why are you dismissive of those who think the poppy has been hijacked and is not representative? The poppy seems to have become sectarian and it’s not crass to point this out …plank in your eye, par chance ?!?!

    Bogexile re your post on Nov 07, 2005 @ 10:20 AM… It was said of Vietnam that there are ‘no athiests in the foxholes’. I don’t imagine there was much sullen ideological drivel in the trenches where the thing that united people about to die was their humanity in the face of what was an appalling waste of human life. During and after Vietnam the US populace knew that the US was fighting an unjust war. It’s a pity that the “shot before dawn” soldiers of WW1 didn’t have prior knowledge of what they were getting into or they could have burnt their draft cards or escaped ‘a la’ Geo W Bush from the carnage. If the US had stuck to it’s ‘sullen ideological drivel’ of ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ they might not have been in the disaster in SE Asia. If the cannon fodder of WW1 had prior knowledge of the ideological drivel of ‘the fight for the small nation’ then there wouldn’t have been so many large, imperialist, warmongers in Europe to rush into industrialized warfare in the Somme

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Niall,
    The poppy is a symbol of remembrance for ALL sections of the community that died fighting to keep us free, in the Allied forces. I merely articulated that when I personally, wear the poppy, I also think of all the people who needlessly died in our recent and bloody poltico-religious conflict…to denounce the poppy says a lot about a person’s naked bigotry and bitterness

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Hi, just picking up on frequently used phrases that you are far from being alone in using.

    The 1916-1921 IRA when killing the RIC comprised mostly of Catholics were fighting a War of Independence.
    The PIRA when killing the RUC comprised mostly of Protestants were fighting a ‘blind and hate-filled sectarian pogrom against my community’.

    Republicans,especially those who have never instigated a violent act in their life, have a long way to go to assuage some Protestant fears that republican intentions are not based on sectarianism. It must begin with moves to accomodate but also entwined with attempts at getting Protestants to re-evaluate our tragic past starting with viewpoints like that expressed above. You may regard all IRA activity past and recently as terrorism, but realise the aim has always been the same,an Irish republic, and that aim does not include wiping out Protestants from the cloth of this country

  • stu

    Niall

    You seem to have to go one better. I have a degree in modern history, believe me when I say I know about the two world wars. Your representation of them, while loosely based in fact, is misrepresentation of the highest order. I don’t like violence. It’s almost always unnecessary. But there was no negotiation possible with Hitler, minus capitulation and the abandoning of our European brothers to the Nazi regime. The same could be said, to a lesser extent, about WWI. But you’d rather point out the flaws and complain about imperialism than just accept that millions of people die every year for no good reason, and this was a slightly better cause than most. Would you perhaps be a conscientous objector?

    Don’t fancy a poppy? How about a white feather?

  • George

    Stu,
    you say you know of war yet bring up the white feather, used by society to shame people into military service.

    If you accept Niall’s figure that the majority of those from Ireland who fought in the World War were Irish nationalists fighting for the freedom of the little nations and the future prospect of home rule, then the question is why the Poppy is worn by virtually no one in Ireland (Republic of) or by northern nationalists?

    The answer probably lies somewhere between the Unionist community allowing it to become a political symbol of Britishness here rather than remembrance and Irish nationalists seeing it as somehow supporting Britain and her soldiers who attempted to deny small nation Ireland her freedom in the War of Independence 1919/21 (post 1969 north of the border I assume).

    May I respectfully suggest that a poppy with a green centre rather than a black one be worn by those from the Irish nationalist community who want to wear one in honour of their fallen, who if Nialls’ figures are right constitute the majority.

    Simple solution.

  • stu

    George

    It’s perhaps an overly simple solution- it brings politics into a situation that is about thanks and rememberence. I would like to see more Nationalists wearing poppies, I work with a couple that do, but very few, and if it means adopting a new symbol then so be it, rather than marking out your individual support for the nationalists who died. I wear my poppy to remember all those, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Unionist, Nationalist, black, white, American, Canadian, Indian, Burmese, Nepalese, French, Dutch, Belgian, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Scandanavian, Japanese and so many more that died for our sakes. If the image and imagery of the poppy (Flanders, blood, one petal for each fallen hero) is too much for some, then I suggest they question it a bit more carefully before (and I’m not saying you’re doing this) accuse me and those who wear their poppies with humble gratitude of offending them with our Britishness. If necessary, we should investigate an alternative, but I don’t see why nationalists should see fit to wear a poppy only to honour ‘their’ fallen. What about a white poppy, as a sign of hope for a peaceful alternative in future, and a reflection of the peace envisioned between Protestant and Catholic in Ireland by the white in the Tricolor?

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    – John McCrae

  • George

    Stu,
    I suppose we have to ask ourselves what’s more important: remembering those who died or remembering them by using a poppy.

    The British Poppy Day remembrance is “also a timely reminder of today’s heroes, all those who serve in conflicts and peace-keeping missions across the globe and who may need The Royal British Legion in the future”.
    Quote: Russell Thompson Director of Fundraising, The Royal British Legion 2005

    Some of the proceeds also go to helping those who served in Iraq.

    This is a problem for some. For example, is an Irish person supporting the conflict in Iraq by wearing a poppy, supporting British troops in NI etc?

    Remembrance should be separate from politics.

    The French don’t use the poppy, they use le Bleuet de France. Nobody has a problem with that or considers it exclusionary of all the other nationalities that died. The United States has Memorial Day. No poppies there either I assume.

    I think it appropriate that the Irish nation remembers its dead in its own way.

    On the white poppy, we might be entering your white feather world but I would have nothing against it.

    However, I would be more partial to an entwined orange and white lilly or the like.

    Another solution would be to make the National Day of Commemoration a national holiday instead of the proposed April 24 to celebrate the 1916 rising.

    Then the hundreds of Irish soldiers who died on peacekeeping duties could be remembered as well as those who fell in the war of independence, civil war and the World Wars.

  • Stu,
    Good job I got the following in before you said you’d studied history….*The victors shouldn’t be allowed write the history and history is too important to be written by the historians. Posted by Niall on Nov 08, 2005 @ 06:24 PM* Seeing as you studied history and yet, IMO, have a twisted, one-sided opinion of the poppy, WW1 and Irish nationalist opinion of the poppy, my quoted belief has been reinforced.

    *believe me when I say I know about the two world wars* ..them why not answer some of my questions? Can you explain / justify WW1? Less than a handful of lines requested.

    *than just accept that millions of people die every year for no good reason* Exactly, you hit the nail on the head – I’m a bastard for not seeing lives wasted for no good reason. I’ll know who to call on tho’ when I’d need some one willing to throw away their life for politico rhetoric ?!?!
    Word of caution, this is the 21st C and you seem to be promoting suicidal warfare (altho there might be a job (short-term) for you in Baghdad). Do you mind if I ask…. have you been listening to any Ayatollahs lately ?!?! In the Iran / Iraq war the young troops were told that the bullets couldn’t hurt as they were protected by some holy shite spouted by some preacher about….does this seem familiar?

    *Would you perhaps be a conscientious objector? * …I’ll get a laugh out of the lads over the weekend when I mention that a unionist thought this of me. Thanks for the giggle.

    White feather…?!?!
    I laugh in comtempt that you think I might be shamed to believe in the genocidal/suicidal behavior of the WW1 generals for the sake of pathetic empire and monarchial parasites

    Concerned Loyalist on Nov 10, 2005 @ 01:48 PM you said…* to denounce the poppy says a lot about a person’s naked bigotry and bitterness* why do you think this? I’m not British, the poppy is a British-only symbol because as you pointed out it represents, to you (on Nov 08, 2005 @ 07:07 PM) and possibly W Hay and his voters, anti-RM-only, without recognizing loyalist / security forces murders. The British anthem..made Cathal and the sdlp rep uncomfortable as it would me as it symbolizes the british gov, monarchy and institutions that were the ones who volunteered, unnecessarily, for “The Great War” and it’s genocide. I don’t consider myself a bigot or bitter, why do you say I am when I disagree with the glorification of the british empires industrialized massacre of it’s Tommys for no good reason.

    George on Nov 10, 2005 @ 02:43 PM * if Nialls’ figures are right constitute the majority. * please don’t accredit me what the data I supplied as I also referenced the link to the CAIN database. If others won’t listen to the numbers then remember… *statistics are like a lamp post to a drunken man – good for illumination but not much support *.
    I didn’t like the idea of the green and red poppy – keep the symbol but reclaim the memory of the carnage and those who were responsible for WW1.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “You may regard all IRA activity past and recently as terrorism, but realise the aim has always been the same,an Irish republic, and that aim does not include wiping out Protestants from the cloth of this country”

    ..perhaps not, cladycowboy, but funnily enough it was always the Prods who got in in the neck/head-from Scullabogue to Enniskillen,so you’ll forgive us if we look at the actions and not the rhetoric.
    But leaving that aside the other funny thing about IRA terrorism is that it shares one common characteristic with other terrorism-namely a complete inability to get a mandate from those for whom it claims to act.Yup,sure seems like terrorism to me

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Niall,
    I just think prejudice and political alignment should be put to one side to remember the dead…it’s not a red hand or fist, a Union Jack or St. George’s Cross we’re wearing, it’s an imitation flower symbolising the poppies in the fields of Flanders where so many died at the hands of evil.

  • stu

    Niall

    1. Me-”I wear my poppy to remember all those, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Unionist, Nationalist, black, white, American, Canadian, Indian, Burmese, Nepalese, French, Dutch, Belgian, Canadian, Australian, Kiwi, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Scandanavian, Japanese and so many more that died for our sakes. If the image and imagery of the poppy (Flanders, blood, one petal for each fallen hero) is too much for some”

    You- ‘Seeing as you studied history and yet, IMO, have a twisted, one-sided opinion of the poppy…’

    2.You- ‘them why not answer some of my questions? Can you explain / justify WW1? Less than a handful of lines requested. ‘

    This is about remembering those who died, not trying to pour scorn on them, or justifying the way in which they died. You seem more interested in scoring points than commemeration or gratitude, and I don’t wish to lower the debate to justifying something I wasn’t trying to defend in the first place. If less than a handful of lines will appease you, however; it was an attempt by an alliance and member states to honour their Treaty obligations against another alliance that had exploited nationalist violence and assassination to wage war on another, neautral country.

    3.You – ‘Word of caution, this is the 21st C and you seem to be promoting suicidal warfare (altho there might be a job (short-term) for you in Baghdad). Do you mind if I ask…. have you been listening to any Ayatollahs lately ?!?! In the Iran / Iraq war the young troops were told that the bullets couldn’t hurt as they were protected by some holy shite spouted by some preacher about….does this seem familiar?’

    Exactly, this is the 21st Century, a new and exciting period in the history of mankind, only made possible by the collapse of the old world order in the wake of the wars. I’m not promoting suicidal warfare- I consider myself very much a hippy, but if you start smacking my friends I’ll call the cops (if there’s time before you kill them) and then jump on. I believe responsible nations should do likewise. As for the Iran/Iraq situation- I tend to avoid believing religion before basic science. If you don’t mind me asking- why are you bringing this up?

    4.You -‘I’ll get a laugh out of the lads over the weekend when I mention that a unionist thought this of me. Thanks for the giggle.’

    No, thank you for defining me. And having a laugh with your mates (of whatever political opinion) about it. I take it the notion that you might be a supporter of militant republicanism is too much to be inferred here?

    5. ‘Good job I got the following in before you said you’d studied history….*The victors shouldn’t be allowed write the history and history is too important to be written by the historians.’

    Did you read what I said about scoring points earlier?

    Here’s the question- if the Nazis weren’t so bad that we didn’t have to go to war with them, does that mean, a la Alec Reid, that Catholics in Northern Ireland had it ok?

  • ‘..perhaps not, cladycowboy, but funnily enough it was always the Prods who got in in the neck/head-from Scullabogue to Enniskillen,so you’ll forgive us if we look at the actions and not the rhetoric’

    Darth, you’ve missed or ignored the point of the post. The old RIC was mostly Catholic so were the old IRA fighting a sectarian war against catholics? Or perhaps the IRA, wrongly in yours and many people’s eyes,were fighting against the mechanisms of British administration who once were mainly Catholic and latterly mainly Protestant and was not based on religious hatred?

    As for a mandate,if you’re suggesting the island of Ireland votes as one unit to determine whether to keep the border, i’m all for it.

  • *As for the Iran/Iraq situation- I tend to avoid believing religion before basic science. If you don’t mind me asking- why are you bringing this up?*
    after the Lusitania sinking there were posed and created/acted photos used as propaganda to encourage enlistment – false propaganda much like the lies of WMD from the Bush Blair Communications.
    Lies came from the Iranian political/military leaders in the Iran/Iraq war encouraging children that they’d be protected in battle and wouldn’t come to harm. This is like the propaganda from Whitehall for the sign-up of buddy-brigades to make up the numbers for slaughter in The Great War. I’m not *pouring scorn* on the dead. I’m trying to point out that the fault of the war lies at those who maintain the war was justifiable and right ie. Westminster, British Legion, monarchy etc. I maintain that the war was a disaster and should be remembered as such. It was unjust and I ask why did the Westminster volunteer for this war.

    *You seem more interested in scoring points* no I aim to debate the commemoration of WW1 and the opinion of the poppy. I think that the memory of the war is all wrong as it hasn’t addressed the underlying reason for the war or who was to blame for the genocide (ie. General Haig and W Churchill). I disagree with the revisionist version on display whereby history has been sanitized regarding the part played by the military, Whitehall and monarchy. I have never written anything malign about the poor unfortunates who were causalities of the war.

    I also want to point out my opinion that the commemoration of WW1 has been hijacked by the orange elements and there are those who want to maintain this as the status quo ie W Hay etc.

    Lastly I’d like to point out that the fact that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. To ignore something can include misrepresenting the truth.….*In 1911, Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty, a post he would hold into the First World War. He was one of the political and military engineers of the disastrous Gallipoli landings on the Dardanelles during World War I, which led to his description as “the butcher of Gallipoli”. Previously he’d headed the Admirality during the disastrous *live bait squadron* massacre of the HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy. When Asquith formed an all-party coalition government, the Conservatives demanded Churchill’s demotion as the price for entry.

    …..Britain had formed Iraq at the end of the First World War, throwing together three provinces of the toppled Ottoman Empire of Turkey and establishing a king to rule over them. …… the British needed “to complete the façade of the Arab government”. And so, with Winston Churchill’s enthusiastic support, the British gave the throne of Iraq to the Hashemite King Faisal, the son of Sherif Hussein, a consolation prize for the man the French had just thrown out of Damascus. Paris was having no kings in its own mandated territory of Syria. Henceforth, the British government – deprived of reconstruction funds by an international recession, and confronted by an increasingly unwilling soldiery, which had fought during the 1914-18 war and was waiting for demobilisation – would rely on air power to impose its wishes.

    With the discovery of oil in the region, Britain tightened its grip, using a succession of local warlords and military strongmen against all resistance — as well as its own military might. Winston Churchill, then Britain’s colonial secretary, defended his country’s repressive methods. “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. The moral effects should be good, and it would spread a lively terror.” Churchill said after an assault on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq. “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes.”

    Kassem’s 1958 coup put an end to the British-backed dictatorship until the crazy Hussain was replaced by another dictator (full circle and lots of dead soldiers and civilians)*.

    *..you might be a supporter of militant republicanism..* …No, I’m not militant anything, I’m very run of the mill. I’m not martial having hardly ever seen a gun. Therefore not an Irish Republican as I’m not gun-toting. I often think that I don’t know what I am, but I sure as hell know what I’m not !

    Now I’m off to the pub, get drunk and sing Waltzing Matilda in memory of the unfortunates for whom the song was written.

  • Posted by darth rumsfeld on Nov 10, 2005 @ 04:30 PM..*perhaps not, cladycowboy, but funnily enough it was always the Prods who got in in the neck/head-from Scullabogue to Enniskillen,so you’ll forgive us if we look at the actions and not the rhetoric.*

    does this make you a MOPE ?

  • Garrett Dunning

    It’s very interesting how selective the memory can be, especially if that memory is political, narrow-minded and with loose change for a real intellect.

    If this country is to acknowledge all the fallen Irish soldiers in the history of this island are we to merely remember WW1 and WW2?

    Where should be start and where should we end? Should be not include Boru’s “Irish soldiers” who fought at Clontarf? O’Neill’s and O’Donnell’s Irish soldiers in the Ulster wars and at Kinsale, the many thousands of Irish soldiers who fought in the armies of Russia, Austria, Prussia, France, Spain, Argentina, the Netherlands, etc, after 1790?

    Why is the collective memory so narrow and so selective?

    Are we merely unthinking drones of the K. Myer’s School of Anglo revisionism?

    So let’s remember the Irish dead, all soldiers in all Irish armies and Irish military who dies in the service of foreign armies. All Irish and all armies, and not just WW1 and WW2.