West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

BBC's Poppy Wearing Policy Offensive to Majority of Nationalists and Republicans

Published: 11 November, 2009

West Tyrone Sinn Féin representative, Glenn Campbell, has challenged the BBC's compulsory poppy wearing policy/directive to its presenters, branding it "offensive to the majority of nationalists and republicans in the north".

Campbell said,

"In a politically divided society, in which symbolism can often be at the heart of, the BBC through its compulsory poppy wearing policy, has failed to display any sense of impartiality concerning both its role as a public body, and as a public broadcaster, and thus has effectively taken a political stand on this hugely divisive matter. The BBC are the largest broadcasting body, they are a public funded body, and as such they have a wider responsibility to society. If the BBC are to continue implementing this policy, and if they wish to be seen as an impartial body sympathetic to the wishes of all license payees, should they also commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising by directing that all presenters wear an Easter Lilly? "

He Continued,

"Unionists predominantly use this day to remember regiments of the British army such as the B Specials, UDR, RIR, including the RUC and the Prison Service, the initial two being disbanded. The continuing revelations concerning collusion, the arming of loyalist paramilitaries, the directing of political assassinations and sectarian murders by agents working for both the British army and RUC Special Branch makes the BBC policy especially crass. These organisations, including other associations, are remembered in all the official ceremonies despite them not playing any role in the stated reasons for wearing poppies - both world wars - of which historians and global opinion about celebrating and commemorating is itself varied. The roles of most of these organisations were confined to the political conflict in the north since the world wars. This exposes the pretence that in the main poppy wearing is about remembering these wars. It is clearly not the case in the north."

Mr Campbell added,

"I have no objection to unionists and loyalists commemorating and wearing poppies. Rather my objection is to the fact that the wearing of the poppy has become ingrained into the very fabric of public bodies, where it is not a matter of free choice, nor representative of, or sensitive to, public opinion. If large public institutions such as the BBC persist with its policy/directive on poppies unchallenged then they simply provide a legitimacy to pro-union forces that extends to legitimising the countless human rights violations these same forces committed here rather than providing a leadership role in embracing positive change and equality."