Unionists praise Taoiseach for 'shamrock poppy'
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been praised by unionist politicians in the North for wearing a 'shamrock poppy' in recognition of the Irish soldiers who fought and died in World War I.
Senior DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Varadkar has provided an example of how reconciliation could be promoted between the two traditions in Ireland "respectfully" and "without abandoning our core values and beliefs".
Former UUP leader Mike Nesbitt posted online that Mr Varadkar was "wearing his own style of poppy in Dáil Éireann" adding: "That's leadership. #respect".
Mr Varadkar's decision to wear the pin, which is distributed by the Irish branch of the Royal British Legion, got a mixed reaction on social media and Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn was quoted as saying it remains a "divisive symbol" in Ireland.
Addressing his decision to wear the badge, the Taoiseach posted on Twitter: "History is the study of the future. Almost everything has happened before. Let history be our guide but let us never be its prisoner."
Last night, Sir Jeffrey said he was pleased to see Mr Varadkar wear the Shamrock Poppy to commemorate the Irishmen "of all traditions who sacrificed their lives in World War I."
He said tens of thousands of nationalists from every county died in the war, and "it is important that their memory is honoured alongside those of the unionist tradition".
He added: "If we are to have a shared future and to promote reconciliation between our two traditions, then we must have a better sense of our shared history and commemorate it with due respect."