On Thursday morning October 24th PSNI members on foot patrol in West Belfast were sporting poppies from their police caps- Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice who also happened to see the patrol outside Manscoil Feirste and the West Club on the main Falls Road said;
‘The poppy is a political statement and therefore should be prohibited from the workplace – this is especially the case concerning public servants such as the PSNI.
‘The wearing of the poppy to ‘commemorate and honour’ the British army by members of the PSNI in West Belfast is repugnant and offensive to the vast majority of people within our community given the role of the British army. It is a throwback to the days of the RUC that appears to be alive and well within the PSNI –
‘Those PSNI members sporting poppies, including their superior officers, are all very well aware of the symbolism and contentious nature of this issue yet the provocative wearing of the poppy continues year in year out.
‘It’s time for decisive action on the part of the PSNI chiefs – remove the poppies or remove from West Belfast those who refuse to remove their poppies – don’t hide behind legislation and flags and emblems acts. The challenge is yours and the people of West Belfast, and elsewhere throughout this statelet, will watch this space.
‘And there will those who will seek to equate the poppy with the wearing of shamrock of which there is absolutely no comparison with whatsoever – one commemorates death and destruction by an imperialist military force- the other is a celebration of a patron saint who brought Christianity to Ireland.
Concluding Mark Thompson said;
‘The archaic legislation equating the poppy with the shamrock needs to be addressed and replaced. It facilitates unionists to lord it over their nationalist counterparts within the workplace and that’s precisely the motivation of the PSNI in wearing poppies within our communities. Equality and neutrality must become the norm until the legislation is addressed.’