Now this was in the dark days of the troubles in Northern Ireland, and people traversing the border between the North & the South were often viewed with suspicion. So when I gave the desk sergeant my number plate his instinct told him I was a Southern Irish Catholic, in all likelihood an Irish Nationalist. He gruffly took the details, allowed me to call a relative for assistance and to wait in the station for help. Half-an hour passed by and that police officer, suspecting we were "the enemy" spoke not one word.
Then the door of the station opened, and another officer entered with a prisoner on tow. The officer was an old school friend of mine and we exchanged greetings and chatted for a moment before he headed off to the cells with his charge. The desk sergeant was intrigued: "How did I know this police officer?" I explained we went to school together. In a divided society that information told him I was Protestant and Unionist. Then he asked why I was driving a car with Republic of Ireland licence number. I told him I was a Baptist minister serving in Dublin.
In an instant the atmosphere changed. "Would you like a cup of tea?" Would you like a newspaper to read while you wait?" How strange it is to be on the receiving end of suspicion and discrimination.
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