Belfast Telegraph

Caller asks how can BBC's Nolan be independent wearing poppy during poppy debate

By Michael Sheils McNamee

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan came under scrutiny on his own show on Wednesday morning during a debate on Northern Ireland's footballers wearing Remembrance Day poppies.

The issue was raised during a debate on the programme about whether the IFA would give players a choice over whether or not to wear armbands adorned with the poppy during upcoming games against Switzerland. 

In a joint statement issued on Monday by the IFA with the English, Scottish, and Welsh football associations, the four Home Nations stated their intention to display poppies during their matches leading up to Remembrance Sunday.

The IFA stated it would seek agreement from the Swiss FA and Fifa prior to the matches.

Calling the show, Mark From Belfast asked: "Stephen, does... the BBC have someone neutral to hold this discussion?"

The caller then asked if presenter Nolan was wearing a poppy, and he confirmed he was.

"I just don’t understand how you can have an independent view on it," Mark said.

Defending his impartiality, Nolan said: "Well whatever my view is or isn’t, you don’t think I can host a debate? You think that every broadcaster who hosts a debate doesn’t have a personal view? Of course they do but they leave the personal view at home."

Responding to this, the caller said: "They do but they don’t wear it on their lapel."

During the discussion Sean Mag Uidhir - who earlier this year handled Sinn Fein's election campaign - tweeted to question if it would be appropriate for a presenter to host a debate on the Orange Order if they were wearing a sash. 

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph if players would be given a choice on whether to wear the poppy, an IFA spokesperson said it would not be making any further comment to the statement on Monday.

The BBC - which has a policy stating poppies can be worn on screen by those who chose to do so between Saturday October 28 and Sunday November 12 - said a discussion on the wearing of the poppy was not scheduled for discussion on tonight's Nolan Live programme.

The broadcaster did not respond to a question on whether Stephen Nolan's impartiality would be compromised in such a debate. 

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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