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Leo Varadkar was wearing a 'shamrock poppy' in the Dáil today

Around 35,000 Irish died during World War One, which is being remembered this month.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR sported a ‘shamrock poppy’ lapel pin in the Dáil today – marking Remembrance Day, which takes place on 11 November every year.

The date marks the anniversary of the day World War One ended, on 11 November in 1918.

In terms of symbolism, the occasion is sometimes a complicated one for members of Irish political parties which have their roots in the time of the 1916 Rising and the War of Independence.

pin1 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil today. Source: Oireachtas TV

The Irish poppy pin worn by Varadkar was designed by the Royal British Legion and is “intended to promote greater public awareness of the legitimacy of the Remembrance Poppy within an Irish context,” according to the organisation’s website.

It is intended, according to the Royal British Legion, “to commemorate the memory of the Irish men and women from across the Island of Ireland who gave their lives in service with British, Commonwealth (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) or Allied Forces (USA) in the Great Wars”.

This high quality enamel lapel pin presents an evocative emblem of Irish Remembrance intended to draw particular attention to the sacrifice of the people of Ireland in both World Wars. The simple, attractive and distinctively Irish iconography also allows the wearer to express their Irish identity, origin or descent wherever they may be.

Poppies are worn to commemorate the dead of the war as they are the flowers that grew on the Western Front battlefields of France and Belgium in the wake of the fighting.

legion Source: Royal British Legion

Ireland in World War One 

About 210,000 Irish men and women served in the British forces during World War One, and around 35,000 died. Home Rule leader John Redmond backed the involvement of Irish soldiers, arguing that it was necessary to support “the freedom of small nations”.

In recent years, a debate has arisen over whether Irish leaders should wear a poppy on certain occasions. In 2012, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore defended the decision not to wear a poppy during Remembrance Day visits to the North.

Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond has been tweeting about the shamrock-poppy hybrid pin in recent days – he sent one to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, telling him that “in coming days, many Irish people will pause at church and civil ceremonies across Ireland and beyond to remember the thousands of Irish men and women who lost their lives over the course of two world wars”.

neale Source: Neale Richmond/Twitter

The Taoiseach’s choice of lapel pin went unremarked-upon by opposition TDs (Gerry Adams amongst them) who spoke during today’s session of Leaders’ Questions.

As it happened: What else happened in Leaders’ Questions today >

Read: England plan to wear poppies for Scotland clash despite Fifa ban >

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