Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Met student makes formal complaint after being told 'to cover up his poppy'

By Adrian Rutherford

A college student has made a formal complaint after being ordered to cover up his poppy during class.

Andrew Gallaher said he was told by a tutor at Belfast Metropolitan College that his poppy could cause offence. He complained to senior staff after claiming the college had no policy against wearing poppies or cultural symbols.

Although the staff member has since apologised to the college for not following protocol, Mr Gallaher said he was still waiting for a personal apology.

He has now made a formal complaint over the matter.

"The poppy is a universal sign of remembrance - it is not offensive," he said.

Mr Gallaher, from Newtownabbey, is a first-year professional cookery student at Belfast Met.

He said the incident occurred during a class last Monday. "I was told to zip my jacket up and cover my poppy," he added.

"I had a discussion with the tutor and said the poppy could not cause offence.

"She said that was my opinion, but I said it wasn't just my opinion. In the end I zipped up my jacket to keep her happy."

Mr Gallaher said he wanted to make clear that the college itself was not at fault. "I spoke to Belfast Met and it is not their policy to ask students to remove or cover poppies. My issue is with an individual member of staff."

Mr Gallaher said that after being asked to cover his poppy, he complained to senior members of staff at the college. A meeting was arranged on Monday, where it was confirmed it was not college policy to ask for poppies to be removed.

However, Mr Gallaher said the staff member declined to offer a personal apology.

"I was expecting an apology on Monday, but when I went in she apologised to Belfast Met for not following protocol," he added.

A spokesperson for Belfast Met said: "Belfast Met cannot comment on individual cases but can confirm that we regard the wearing of poppies as a matter of personal choice for both our students and staff. Belfast Met follows Equality Commission guidelines on the issue."

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