Panti's poppy row

NewsBy Alan Sherry

PANTI Bliss is the latest Irish person to get embroiled in a furore over the wearing of a poppy.

The drag artist and bar owner, also known a Rory O’Neill, is currently promoting The Queen of Ireland a documentary about his life from the small town of Ballinrobe to the world stage as Panti Bliss in the run-up to Marriage Equality referendum. 

Panti appeared on the Lorraine chat show on ITV this week to discuss the documentary but came in for criticism in some quarters for wearing a remembrance poppy on the show. 

The poppy is worn to commemorate soldiers who have died in war but in these islands is particularly associated with the British army.

 Poppies are sold by the Royal British Legion and donations support current and former British military personnel and everyone who goes on TV in the UK around this time of year is asked if they will wear a poppy. 

A number of people took to social media criticising Panti for wearing the poppy on Thursday. Some were abusive in their criticism including one man who wrote:

 “What the f*** is that on your dress ya tan c***? Page unliked, go f*** yourself.”

Another troll wrote: “Eff off and stop disgracing Ireland and its citizens, you ugly, filthy grotesque animal.”

Panti told the Sunday World she knew there would be controversy over the issue.  

“They asked me to wear it on the show and I immediately thought oh, in some parts of the world the poppy means different things to different people. But I’m a very polite person and at that moment I thought it meant more to them that I’d wear it than it meant for me to not wear it. 

“I was aware I would probably get some stick. For the people who wanted me to wear it that day it was about people who died in the war. Lots of Irishmen fought in the British army too. I do understand it has a different meaning to other people.”

UFC fighter Conor McGregor had a go at barstool republicans last week after they criticised him for wearing a poppy. 

He said: “I don’t need a stupid little flower with a 100 different meanings to tell me if I do or do not represent my country.”

“I have the blood of many nations on my gloves. Fought and beat on the world stage.

“You have a pint in your hand and a Celtic jersey on in your local. Fuck you and the Queen.”

Ireland and West Brom midfielder James McClean gets criticism every year for refusing to wear the Poppy during Premier League matches in England.

The Derry-born player has got death threats for his refusal to wear the symbol which he feels would disrespect the 14 unarmed civilians shot dead by the British Army on Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972. 

Cork-born Graham Norton wears a poppy on his BBC chat show every year  but last week actress Sienna Miller received a barrage of criticism for not wearing a poppy on the show. 

She said she took if off as it was tearing her dress and was surprised at how “extreme” the criticism of her had been. 

Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow described the cultural pressure to wear the poppy on TV in the UK as “poppy facism”.

 ITV news anchor Charlene White also receives criticism for not wearing a poppy on TV. She said she supports numerous charities but isn’t allowed wear their symbols on TV so does not want to make an exception for the poppy. 

“That includes things like a red ribbon for World Aids Day, or a purple band for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Both these and many more charities do great things in the UK, but I’m not allowed to give them exposure on screen.

“So I feel uncomfortable supporting just one charity above all others.”