We ignore the past at our peril

Many people from the local nationalist community have for many years been uncomfortable with the official ceremonies to mark Remembrance Sunday.

Red poppies, like war memorials, have, for some people, come to symbolise remembrance. To others, they exemplify Britishness and allegiance to the Crown.

Many people are ambivalent about wearing poppies. Some people are opposed to it because of its military associations.

However, the true meaning of Remembrance Sunday - or, indeed, wearing a poppy - has lost all significance in Northern Ireland.

Wearing a poppy here is classed as making a political statement. If you don’t wear one, you are a nationalist. If you do, you’re a unionist.

Such generalisations, while reality here in the North, are wrong and discredit the sacrifice of those who died in the two world wars - whose memory the poppy is primarily intended to commemorate.

It should never be forgotten that more than 700 Derry nationalists died in the two world wars.

All societies have their ways of coming to terms with death and remembrance - both in personal terms and also as communities.

There is an innate human need to remember those who die. We choose our own ways - sometimes we need elaborate ceremonies and services; sometimes we rely on more private memories.

There is a fine balance to be achieved between remembrance and reconciliation. However, both concepts are essential in the search for a resolution to our conflict.

We deny and ignore what has happened in the past at our peril.