Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

TD wears 'symbolic' poppy in Dail

Frank Feighan is the first TD to wear a poppy in the Dail since 1996

An Irish Government TD has said he wore a poppy to the Dail to show that remembering the Irish war dead is no longer off limits.

Frank Feighan, who called last week for a joint British-Irish approach to commemorating the First World War, is the first TD to make the gesture for 16 years.

"We have well and truly moved on from that dark, bloody era in the North before the evolution of the peace process - a time when the politics of fear and divisiveness tore apart communities living side by side," he said.

"Thankfully, the peace dividend has delivered a new politics which has allowed us to publicly respect all traditions on this island.

"This politics of inclusiveness has also allowed us to publicly revisit some aspects of our past which up to recently were off limits. That includes the countless Irish men who fought and died in the Great Wars."

Mr Feighan, chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, is the first TD to wear a poppy to the Dail since 1996 when Labour's Emmet Stagg, and Fine Gael TDs Paddy Harte and Brian Hayes set the example.

He said he wore the poppy as a symbolic gesture to remember the war dead and to illustrate how the politics of engagement and not war is the only way forward in solving seemingly intractable conflicts.

About 50,000 Irish men who enlisted for the First World War died.

The Irish Government this year pardoned about 5,000 soldiers branded deserters and blacklisted for fighting for the Allies against Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Mr Feighan said: "For me, wearing the poppy in the Dail is a symbolic gesture to not only recognise the Irish men who fought in the Great Wars but to illustrate how the politics of engagement and not war is the only way forward in solving seemingly intractable conflicts."

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