A few years ago, when I was a student I had reason to visit Dublin and I recall with great clarity the abuse which I received in the street from strangers because I wore a remembrance poppy.
Last week in Dundrum town centre I saw a young Dubliner wearing a jacket with a large Union Flag design on the back and no one batted an eyelid. Times change!
We are, however, again at the time of year when some suggest that the poppy should be regarded as a sectarian symbol. It is, of course, nothing of the kind.
Citizens of the Irish Republic have no less reason to be thankful that their democracy was protected by the Allied nations in World War II than citizens of the United Kingdom. In terms of their fundamental democratic and civil rights, citizens of the Irish Republic owe more to those Irishmen who fought in Flanders and Picardy than to those who rebelled in Dublin.
In common with many Irish Presbyterian ministers, on Remembrance Sunday I will conduct a Service of Remembrance (Fourtowns Presbyterian Church @ 11am, all welcome!) when we will commemorate members of our own congregation together with those of other faiths and of none, without distinction, who fought to preserve the earthly freedoms of all who live on this island.
We will pray for peace and we will give thanks for their good actions to God who is the only author of true freedom, only to be found in Christ.
Rev. Mark Wilson, The Manse, Poyntzpass