The practice by BBC Northern Ireland of insisting that their front of camera television broadcasters and presenters wear the poppy while at work smacks of bullying and must surely tarnish the image of impartiality which the BBC likes to project of itself.
It is my understanding that following the signing of the Belfast Agreement a new code of ethics was agreed which included the banning of political emblems and flags in the workplace.
Without question, the wearing of the poppy has overtly political overtones and has the potential to offend as monies raised by the selling of the poppy is used to provide support for British ex-servicemen, some of whom would have served in the North during the Troubles, including those soldiers who were involved in Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972 and in the Ballymurphy Massacre in Belfast in 1971.
Following the introduction of the McBride Principles in 1989, which included the banning of provocative political emblems at places of work, all public bodies in Northern Ireland, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, voluntarily agreed to implement a “neutral workplace” in attempts to end sectarianism which was endemic in the North.
Curiously, the BBC World Service bans their presenters from wearing the poppy in the workplace in case it might cause offence to people overseas. They should extend that policy to the North.
Tom Cooper, Chairperson, Irish National Congress, Dublin 2