AND still BBC Ulster continues with the laughable pretence that when it comes to wearing a poppy, it’s up to the on-screen talent whether they want to pay tribute to our boys or not.

It’s a hoary old chestnut, isn’t it? Every year on the radio and TV there’s a row about the poppy and something or someone or other – and this year will be no different as we count down the days until Remembrance Sunday. Will it be James McClean? Will it be the Lord Mayor? Will it be the Celtic team? Doesn’t matter much in the end, to be honest, because all that does matter, the overriding imperative, is that “the phones into the building are lit up” and there’s nothing that lights up the phones like flags and parades and the ’Ra and... poppies. In other words, things that get Prods riled.

Let’s have a look at this risible claim that BBC presenters are allowed to exercise free choice vis a vis the poppy. Take a trip into the centre of the city, dander around Belfast for a half an hour some time over the coming two weeks and you’ll find what Squinter finds – ie that people who wear the poppy are in a minority. Squinter’s going to be generous and say that on his most recent visit to Belfast, perhaps 20 per cent of the people were wearing poppies.

That means that 80 per cent of the people in Belfast choose not to wear a poppy for whatever reason. That figure will be roughly reflected in the workplace, in the city’s shops and offices, with a possible slight varition either way where the religious divide isn’t accurately reflected as on the streets.

Squinter has no reason to believe that Ormeau Avenue is anything other than a paragon of fair employment values. In other words, the workforce is broadly reflective of society. So how come everybody who appears on screen there decides to wear a poppy? How come on-air talent at BBC This Here Pravince is the only workplace cohort that is absolutely and utterly unanimous in its support of the British Legion Poppy Appeal? How come BBC Ulster so signally fails on-screen to reflect the political and historical realities of the community it serves? Is it some kind of massive, mind-bending, galaxy-altering coincidence? Or is there something more to it than that?

It’s not an academic question, far from it. If, for example, a presenter is discussing with a guest the UDR, or the Parachute Regiment, or the Royal Irish Regiment and some of the, um, shall we say, less savoury incidents that these fine bodies have been embroiled in over the years, that presenter is making an overt statement of support of the soldiers under discussion. Because, of course, the Royal British Legion famously gives support to all British soldiers. Ask a BBC presenter what she or he thinks of a certain matter and they will shoot back, “Doesn’t matter what I think.” And neither does it.

Or, rather, should it.