Letters to the Editor

There are other emblems beside the poppy to remember Armistice Day

Last Sunday, I did not wear a poppy. It has become a symbol of every member of the British armed forces including those who killed civil rights marchers and other civilians in Derry, Ballymurphy and elsewhere in Ireland.

It is impossible to separate those brave soldiers who died fighting fascism in the Second World War and the gunmen of Derry and Belfast, due to the fact that a private British charity, the British Legion, has ensured that people on this separate island only view one flower as pertaining to firstly the First World War then the Second World War and all colonial wars post 1945.

But what of all the other memorial flowers? Why don’t we witness post conflict transformation by being given a choice of others besides the poppy?

As most Irish soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars died fighting in France and Belgium why not wear the flowers of these countries ?

In France, the Cornflower (Le Bleuet) is worn and has been from the winter of 1914. In Belgium, the Daisy is worn while in Germany it’s the Forget Me Not. 

So there are other emblems to remember the 11th of November. As a European citizen and not a British subject, it would be more appropriate for any European republican to wear either
Le Bleuet or the Vergissmeinnicht, as both these European countries are based upon equality of all their citizens and not, like Britain, upon inequality as in a monarchy founded on class and sectarian division as the head of the British state, an unelected queen who also happens to be the head of the British state religion.

One thing all the above simple wild flowers, including the poppy, have in common is that they survived in a desolated landscape.

Why not wear all four? They are after all available on the internet.

The journalist Robert Fisk has written movingly about how his father, a veteran of the First World War refused to wear a poppy. Fisk’s officer father served, I think, in the King’s Liverpool regiment as did Irish socialist and Easter rebellion leader James Connolly. So both never wore the poppy, but perhaps the British soldiers who shot Connolly did.

The 100-year commemorations provided for forgiveness among descendants of those who died in the various slaughter across Europe. These are continually demeaned by the squad who dictate “it’s the poppy or nothing” mentality. Will the 21 million Russians who died in the Second World War be included?

Last Sunday, I remembered my uncle John from Co Wexford who fought with the Irish Guards and was badly wounded in France. 

He never held any bitterness  against the German soldier who shot him. 

Like many another, he never wore the poppy but remembered his comrades who didn’t return  from France. 

On Armistice Day, he always had a small blue flower in his lapel. I now know what it means.

MICHAEL CONLON
Belfast

 

Is Irish nationalism getting into bed with imperialism?

IN its November 5 edition The Irish News has a front page with a photograph of Leo Varadkar and a bold headline stating ‘Don’t leave us behind Leo’. This was followed by 13 pages on the issue of Brexit. Contained in those pages was a letter to Varadkar signed by 1,000 people from various areas and professions.

The biggest number of signatories came from the business community with the smallest, 19 names, from the media. The next smallest was 24 from the Labour movement, however, of these only seven were from the north and considering that the letter to Varadkar was the question of rights in the north, it was a poor turnout.

The letter referred to those ‘who cherish their Irish citizenship and identity in the north’. It condemns political unionism for continuing to deny respect for Irish identity and language, marriage equality, access to justice for legacy matters.

Notice there is one significant omission, that of a woman’s right to choose.

It also makes reference to Irish citizens in the north no longer being represented in the European Parliament, a body that has no power whatsoever as that rests with the unelected commissions.

Nowhere in the letter is there any criticism of the EU and certainly no mention of the anti-worker rulings of the European Court of Justice which deny rights to all European citizens.

Are we now seeing another case of Irish nationalism getting into bed with imperialism, this time of a European nature, in the mistaken belief it will defend its interests?

The interests of democrats, republicans and working people would be better served by ensuring both parts of Ireland regain national sovereignty outside of the unaccountable, neo-liberal institutions of the European Union.

JOHN PINKERTON
Chairperson of the Communist Party of Ireland

 

Unproven analysis

DEAGLÁN de Bréadún (October 22) refers to the republican abstentionist stance – fighting for seats to the British parliament and not taking their seats.  He cites previous nationalist MPs such as Parnell and Redmond as folk who took their seats in Westminster and ‘nearly’ achieved Home Rule. 
He might have mentioned past-partition nationalist MPs who took seats in Westminster and achieved nothing.

Yet Mr de Bréadún advocates that republicans ought to take their seats. Why?
To undermine the DUP and possibly bring about a general election with Labour coming out as victors.

Tidy enough argument on the face of it.

Parnell and Redmond did not achieve their stated goals. The British ignored the results of a national election and partitioned Ireland.  

In my lifetime there was a sentiment that labour in power in Westminster would look favourably at the gross wrongdoing by Westminster in regards to Ireland. Need I remind readers of two labour lights that shone in Ireland, Callaghan and Mason.

My own take regarding Mr de Bréadún’s piece is that he is talking up an unproven analysis.

MANUS McDAID
Derry City

 

Over-the-top costumes should be banned

Recently I was back at a Feis, the first since my own children were dancing. I was surprised to find that the dancing is not judged so much on the foot work now as on presentation. Wigs, fake tan and expensive over-the-top costumes are an American import. The dancing schools and judges should ban this practice. Go back to a simple embroidered costume, no wigs and no fake tan. Besides most families find it hard to afford this unnecessary extra expense. 

AILBHE Ó LONNARGAIN
Loch Gile, Árd Mhacha

 

UK can’t be trusted

The Irish people don’t have to be reminded, the UK can’t be trusted. The current Conservative party is in total disarray. As never before, the Irish government must hold their nerve and not accept a time-limited Brexit back-stop. 

JAMES G BARRY
Dublin 6

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