STUDENTS
07/05/2014 07:39 BST | Updated 08/05/2014 05:59 BST

Queen's University Belfast Students Campaign For Poppy Ban

Ben Birchall/PA Archive
A wreath of poppies are held at the launch of this year's poppy appeal on HMS Somerset, at Avonmouth docks, in Somerset.

Students at a university in Northern Ireland are proposing a motion to ban the selling of poppies in their students union, saying it is a "divisive initiative".

Queen's University Students' Union (QUBSU) is to vote on Wednesday on whether to implement the controversial motion, which has been proposed by student and Sinn Fein activist Sean Fearon, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The motion states: "This Council recognises that the Students' Union is an inclusive and neutral space for all students at Queen's University and therefore must offer a politically neutral environment regarding issues of the past to avoid offence and a sense of exclusion."

It urges the union to end the Poppy Appeal "in the name of peace, inclusivity and progressivism".

Cliona McCarney, who is a member of the SDLP, told the Belfast Telegraph she believed the motion is "very unhelpful".

"We are voting against the motion, it's not out of any great love for the symbol of the poppy, it's just the fact that the motion is discriminatory against a large section of students," she said.

"The union is constitutionally mandated to be a safe place for all students, and if we take the right away, where does it end?"

Last year the council joined other student unions across the UK to ban Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines song being played anywhere on the premises due to its "anti-female" content."

The poppy appeal is an annual event organised by the Royal British Legion, a charity which raises funds for armed forces and their families.

Last year, students were up in arms after the University of London Union banned its student leaders from representing their peers at a Remembrance Day service. Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy has even weighed in, saying her former union's decision makes her feel "ashamed".

A spokesperson for QUBSU said: "Queen’s Students’ Union is an inclusive and neutral space which is used by students from all backgrounds, across the various faculties and years of study at the University.

"Two individual Student Council Members have tabled a motion to prevent the distribution of the poppy in the Students’ Union shop. This will be discussed and voted on by means of the democratic process at tonight’s Students’ Union Council meeting."