Taoiseach commemorates Ireland's war dead with a shamrock poppy

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has worn an Irish-themed red poppy badge to commemorate the island's war dead.

Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 7:26 pm
Updated Monday, 11th December 2017, 5:25 pm
Screengrab image of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wearing an Irish-themed Shamrock Poppy badge to commemorate the island's war dead, whilst speaking at the Dail. Photo: PA Wire

Fine Gael leader Mr Varadkar wore the Shamrock Poppy in the Dail on Tuesday.

The move is symbolic of the greater recognition now afforded in the Republic of Ireland to those Irishmen who fought and died serving in the British Army in the First World War, in the years prior to independence.

Given the Irish state’s troubled history with Britain, the red poppy has never been embraced as a symbol of remembrance in the country.

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Mr Varadkar’s predecessor Enda Kenny broke new ground in 2012 by attending a Remembrance Sunday service in Northern Ireland, at Enniskillen.

He laid a laurel wreath at the town’s war memorial on that occasion and every year since.

Mr Varadkar will attend the service in Enniskillen this Sunday as the local community marks the 30th anniversary of the notorious IRA Poppy Day bombing in the town.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach said he had been given the Shamrock Poppy by Fine Gael Senator Frank Feighan.

“The Shamrock Poppy recognises Irish soldiers who fought in World War I,” he said.

“It was commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great War by the Irish branch of the Royal British Region to remember the 206,000 Irishmen that fought, 26,500 of whom died in battle.

“Proceeds from the Shamrock Poppy go to Irish veterans and their families, and towards the upkeep to memorials to Irish soldiers in Ireland. All money stays in Ireland.

“They are available from the Irish branch of the Royal Legion.”