Senator explains why he gave a 'shamrock poppy' to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar 4 years ago

Senator explains why he gave a 'shamrock poppy' to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

"We shouldn't be afraid."

On Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar wore a shamrock poppy into the Dáil, recognising Irish soldiers who fought in World War I.


Although Enda Kenny took part in a remembrance day event back in 2012, he did not wear the pin and the move is a first for a leader of the Fine Gael party.

The emblem worn by Varadkar below shows a poppy placed on top of a shamrock, and the pin was supplied to the Taoiseach by the Irish branch of the Royal Legion.


It has emerged that he was given the poppy by Roscommon Senator, Frank Feighan, who explained to Ocean FM his reasons for doing so.

Speaking to host Niall Delaney, Feighan said it was time for the Irish public to understand "the significance of our past".

"A year or two ago, I gave the poppy pin to a lot of my colleagues because I felt we had moved on from the divisions of the past. There is now a political dawn in this country and we need to understand the complexities of our shared history," Feighan said.

He explained the difference between a shamrock poppy and a normal poppy.


"The shamrock poppy is a pin. It has an outlined shamrock and in the middle, it has a poppy. It is quite small but it does reflect in an Irish context, the 50,000 Irishmen that died in the first World War. It's time to pay our respects and commemorate and remember the great sacrifice of Irishmen of all backgrounds - both nationalist and unionist - across the island of Ireland and what they did. We all have a history we are not aware of... we shouldn't be afraid, there is two sides of our history."

Delaney asked the Roscommon senator about what his grandfather - a commander in the IRA - would think about the shamrock poppy.

"We are very proud of my grandfather and the men of 1916 but I have always felt that there was a history we weren't aware of. We should be able to reflect [on the fact] that there [are] two sides to every story and we should be able to wear those emblems with pride.

"Most people out there love the song 'The Green Fields of France' by The Fureys and it contains the lines: 'Well the sun now it shines on the green fields of France. There's a warm summer breeze it makes the red poppies dance.' We sing this song with great pride but we don't realise the significance [of it]. What I'm trying to do is make people understand our shared history and move on from the divisions of the past."


Main image via Ireland AM