Poppies & Peelers

Anthony McIntyre reflects on the public displays of approval for British symbolism and institutions from Liadh Ní Riada.

There have been better weeks than the past one in the political career of Liadh Ní Riada, the Sinn Fein presidential no hoper. Trailing Michael D Higgins by light years - a massive 62% difference in the latest opinion poll - in the presidential race, she has shown none of the political surefootedness that is an essential ingredient of a successful campaign. Her willingness to wear the British bloody poppy if she assumed the office of presidency – as much chance of her arriving in Mars by the end of next week as there is of her reaching the Aras – has caused uneasiness in her own usually deferential support base. 

While some have taken to deluding themselves that a difficult but obvious question is an ambush by RTE eager to hobble her chances others have focussed on the problem rather than deflect it. Prominent party activist Daithi Doolan on Facebook expressed the discomfort her position had caused him. It was a sentiment reflected by many others. 

Despite her trip to the North to stand alongside the Stepford wives of Sinn Fein, her indifference to or ignorance of the working class nationalist experience there was encapsulated in her enthusiasm for the bloody poppy. Hard to imagine her swanning comfortably through the streets of Derry or Ballymurphy sporting her blood red flower. Speaking fluent Irish in an Oxbridge accent is not going to wash away the blood of the slaughtered.

Although not essentially all that different from banquet man Martin McGuinness in her eagerness to become respectable in the eyes of the British establishment, with not the slightest semblance of a republican history to lend ballast to her authenticity, the going was always going to be tough. Her stance has been explained away as an attempt to reach out to unionists. Which leaves us to wonder what her answer would have been had she been asked if Bobby Sands was a criminal. 

Her unapologetic crass political opportunism was on display again today when she jumped on President Michael D Higgins over his claim that he took a helicopter to the North last May because the PSNI were unable to provide him security were he to have journeyed by car. The PSNI disputed the president’s claims. Rowing in behind the British police Ní Riada said Michael D had to come clean. Eager to accept the word of the British police over the Irish president she asserted:
It is clear now that Michael D Higgins claim has caused considerable anger within the PSNI ... Michael D. Higgins must make a public statement on this matter immediately. This is very serious. He must come clean.
Who is the more accurate of the two, Higgins or the PSNI, it is impossible to tell. But given the PSNI penchant for lying the safe money has to be backing the president. Moreover, causing anger within the PSNI is what her own party should be doing given the force's atrocious and tendentious record on the past. But then the past is something she knows very little about, her own past never having been republican.

Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.

Follow Anthony McIntyre on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

11 comments to ''Poppies & Peelers"

  1. AM,

    am I imagining it or do I detect a touch of petulance running through that piece?
    What would you expect from pigs but grunts and squeals from their piglets?
    You remember, do you not, the Belfast cabal's front-man of the time, Alex Maskey laying his wreath at the cenotaph in 2002? Although it was but one of laurel leaves (even if Alex did really in his mind's eye imagine himself wearing a laurel crown) ... wasn't that the foundation laid for Ms Reid's recent utterances?

    With regards to the election result, I agree with you, Michael D is the only senior hurler out on the pitch. Even the odd-setters have long closed the book on him. He's going to be elected and most likely elected on the first count; provided of course there's a decent turnout.

    Though in truth, I wish the man only contentment, health and success ... wouldn't it be an interesting catalyst if he died in office ... then the State would have to give full honours, gun-carriages et al to the son of a man sentenced to death by the same state that he ( Michael D.) nominally presided over (John Higgin's having been sentenced to death by a Free-State military tribunal for possession of an IED in Mallow North Cork was not in fact executed but was thankfully reprieved following on to the end of the Irish civil war. And like many ex-prisoners and many ex-combatants life was never exactly easy for Joh Higgins thereafter. Michael D. was farmed out and rared by an aunt and uncle, the uncle having taken the Treaty-side and having enlisted in the National [Free-State] Army.)

    Despite the French thinker Ernest Renan's suggested requirement for nation-building i.e., 'to have many things in common and yet hold many things in oblivion' wouldn't such a turn of events and the inherent historical re-appraisals be something worth seeing?

    Neither Michael D nor Ms. Reid have a participatory republican past, as many visiting on here would understand it, yet Michael D can, can he not, rightly claim a familial one and probably a more pragmatic, a more cohesively intellectual and a more honest interpretation of republicanism than Lea can. Neither Michael D, nor Enda Kenny whilst attending Remembrance Day events wore Poppies and I doubt if they would have ever lowered themselves to muse on the subject to secure votes.

    If the lady chooses to stick her ass in the air, she ought not protest too much if she gets ... it kicked!

  2. Henry Joy - perhaps. More to do with the flu I guess!! It is hard to get worked up these days about the things they do. Of course Michael D is going to do it. He was on the home run from the minute Gallagher was taken out of it seven years ago and his momentum is unstoppable. The rest are also rans. They try to make as much noise as possible but exude more heat than light.

  3. The selection of this non republican is the further revisionism of SF by SF....when Mary Lou called Derry Londonderry that was a clear signal of what was ahead...good blog though

  4. If the real masters i.e., mi5 were to order those quisling $inn £anny,s to wear a collar and leash ,and stick a dildo up their arse,their response would be ,"how far would you like me shove it boss"?,supporting the brit Haig fund by wearing their symbol shows no respect to those millions who died because two royal families fell out, rather it endorses that mega bucks £money making venture of making money from exploiting the dead , mind you quisling $inn £anny are adept at that also ,

  5. Jesus, who rattled your cage Anthony?

  6. Doesn't seem rattled to me Steve!

    Standard from the top of the head piece.

  7. Either there's a deeper divide between Southern SF and Northern SF than we all thought, or the calibre of people joining the party has been greatly lowered in the hope of scoring some election victory.

    Matt Treacy was right.

  8. What a line up of presidential hopefuls anyway and all of them willing to do what it takes lick arses and kiss babies. Even wear poppies commemorating those who murdered us. Ah typical paddies.

  9. Would that be the same PSNI which Seanna 'The Shinner' Walsh referred to as the RUC a couple of weeks ago after the arrests of the two journalists?

  10. I can't understand why she didn't say she would wear the white 'peace' poppy. Handy way round the question and an ethical point made that still obliquely stuck it to the imperialists.

  11. Well written piece AM
    I am always surprised at the amount of people still surprised at the conduct of the relatively new political party that is Sinn Fein, This is what politics is all about “Power at any Price” I get the sense that some people feel let down by their current acceptance of having to display the British/Northern Ireland Poppy if the party decide to enter the Aras ,it doesn’t matter what they have to do to get into Power but whatever it takes they will surely do it ……they are more Establishment than the so called Establishment parties , has anyone Heard Sinn Fein mention the words “West Brits” recently ?????


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