THE image of the Lord Mayor of Cork and others wearing poppies at commemoration ceremonies over the weekend is deplorable and shows once again their lack of understanding for what the November poppy symbolises.
The poppy was originally the symbol of the bloody fields of Flanders and the men, some of them incredibly brave and altruistic, who died there in what was nothing other than a war for imperial expansion. But for so long the Poppy has to come to symbolise much more than honouring men who fell at Flanders. Today it is used to remember and glorify all British wars subsequent to "the Great War".
It is also used to reinforce the worst aspects of British identity and promote a British consciousness by the use of the poppy symbol and associated pageantry --and it is done in a very coercive way.
Public figures, from football coaches to television entertainers, are now beginning to complain in Britain of the pressure brought to bear to wear the poppy.
Monies raised from the sale of poppy symbols are used to support the injured of those conflicts or families of those lost in war.
But very substantial amounts are used to build monuments to insane or inane generals or build old boys' clubs for the war elite in different parts of Britain and the six counties.
In the 30 years of conflict in the northern part of Ireland, many of these same British soldiers who are now honoured on Remembrance Sunday (or will be when they pass on), or who presently attend the old boys' clubs built on poppy donations, colluded with loyalist murder squads (in many cases ran them), and killed hundreds of innocent Irish people.
One can well understand the need by Irish families or comrades to honour Irish men and women who fell in both world wars.
But acceptable symbols must be found that will enable Irish minds to disengage from all that the poppy currently stands for.
Until it happens, the same issues will come up each year and a very substantial number of reflective Irish people won't feel able to have any part in it.
REV TOMAS WALSH
BALLYPHEHANE, CORK CITY