Poppy row at Wade Training

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A ROW has broken out after a student at Wade Training in Lurgan was told he couldn’t wear a poppy to mark this Sunday’s Remembrance Day.

The company explained a blanket ban on emblems is in place to ensure a ‘harmonius’ atmosphere.

The offended trainee told the ‘MAIL’: “I had asked a month ago if I was able to wear my poppy and I was told I couldn’t because we’re not allowed to wear anything that would show our religion.

“I shouldn’t even have had to ask, but I was just asking to be sure. I’ve never been told I couldn’t wear one before. I think it’s a shame and a disgrace.

“Both religions fought in the war and the poppy gives us a chance to remember everyone who died.”

DUP Councillor Darryn Causby said: “What I can’t understand is the Southern Regional College and Wade Training are both run by the Department of Education and Learning, yet one has a sensible policy as regards poppies while the other bans them outright.

“Wade Training do not allow students to wear poppies and I find this stance is politicising the whole idea of the poppy and what it stands for. The poppy is worn as an act of remembrance.”

He added: “I tried to speak to someone at Wade but there was no-one available to speak to me. Eventually one of my DUP colleagues got talking to someone who said students weren’t allowed to wear poppies.

“I contacted the SRC who allow their students to wear poppies provided they act sensibly.”

The SRC’s policy reads: “In line with the Equality Commission guidance, it is acceptable for staff and students to wear non-political marks of remembrance, celebration or commemoration such as poppies or shamrock during specified periods in the year. Individuals wearing emblems should do so with a sense of decorum and due proportion and such emblems should never be flaunted or forced onto someone for not wearing them.”

Mr Causby commented: “How are the SRC able to follow Equality Commission guidelines, but Wade Training can’t. It’s frustrating that one educational body follows guidelines while the other makes up their own rules.”

Annslee Renshaw from Wade Training said: “Wade Training are an apolitical company. We have people here from all sides of the divide and the blanket ban on all emblems is in place to promote an atmosphere of harmony.

“All emblems are banned regardless of what part of the country they come from.”

Mr Renshaw added: “The bully boy tactics that have been exhibited by the DUP on this issue are scandalous.”