Martin & Weir call for employers to back the poppy
Tuesday 30th October 2012
At this time of the year the thoughts of many of us naturally turn to remembrance and commemorating the sacrifice of the brave men and women of our armed services who fought and in many cases paid the supreme cost to maintain the freedom that we all enjoy today. I believe all of us have a role to play in honouring that sacrifice. This applies not just to individuals but also is a role that companies and employers should embrace.
Joint Statement: Cllr Peter Martin [DUP] & Cllr Peter Weir MLA [DUP]
Cllr Peter Martin
“At this time of the year the thoughts of many of us naturally turn to remembrance and commemorating the sacrifice of the brave men and women of our armed services who fought and in many cases paid the supreme cost to maintain the freedom that we all enjoy today. I believe all of us have a role to play in honouring that sacrifice. This applies not just to individuals but also is a role that companies and employers should embrace.
This issue was brought into focus last week when I was asked by several constituents if I would investigate the policy of a major national employer (with local branches) with regard to their different attitude to the wearing of Poppies here in Northern Ireland than in the rest of the United Kingdom. On questioning the company about whether employees can wear poppies to work in NI, their initial response was disappointing.
Over a sustained period we lobbied them to clarify their policy and after several days they put out a statement indicating that despite a strict uniform policy in Northern Ireland they would not ask any employee who wore a poppy on their uniform to remove it. We would like to thank the many tens of thousands of people who helped in this social media campaign.
Clearly it would have been easier for them just to state from the outset that their employees could wear a poppy but nevertheless we welcome the final statement on the subject. Some companies may perceive the poppy as divisive and some political parties would suggest that it just represents one section of our community here in Northern Ireland. This simply is not so.
My own grandfather fought very bravely with his unit, the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, during World War 2 in France. He received the full brace of medals and was evacuated back to Britain on a small craft from Dunkirk. He also happened to be Catholic. James was lucky enough to make it home so by wearing my poppy I remember those men in his unit who didn’t.
This week Corporal Channing Day has been repatriated back to the UK. She grew up 7 miles from Bangor but was killed in action helping comrades thousands of miles from here. The poppy says we will never forget her sacrifice. The small victory we helped to achieve is another important milestone to remind companies who trade in NI that the poppy is an incredibly important symbol and employees should have the right to choose whether to wear it or not and should not have this decision taken away from them by their employers uniform codes. Wearing the poppy is about showing respect to all our war dead from whatever community they come from and standing by those who they have left behind.”
Cllr Peter Weir MLA
“There is no doubt that there are many valued employers in North Down, making an important contribution to the local economy, but it is our belief that they should pay the fullest respect to the sacrifice to our fallen heroes, particularly as this time of year as we rightly pay tribute to them, and particularly in a week where we have seen the tragic death of two more service personnel in Afghanistan, one of whom, Corporal Channing Day was from Comber.