National Reconciliation

See also: Political Responsibility after Conflict

  • A new framework for the unfinished business of the past – Declan Kearney
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    An initiative of common acknowledgement by all sides – British, Irish, republican and unionist – of the hurt and injustices caused by and to each other could introduce a powerful new dynamic to the Peace Process. It could make a significant contribution to healing and create new opportunities for friendship, trust and forgiveness to grow.

    It would challenge us all – but that is what conflict resolution is about.

    The two governments, republicans and unionists were not bystanders to the conflict.

    None of us is absolved of responsibility to ensure that future generations grow up in a better place than we did. That is leadership.

    There is an urgent imperative, North and South, to move beyond zero-sum discussions about the past and, trying to contrive post-conflict ‘winners’ and ‘losers’.

    This is not to suggest we forget our past but that we refuse to be imprisoned by its legacy, and accept each other as equals.

    The alternative is to recycle recrimination and pass the blame game on to the next generation.

  • New Ross Standard / Irish Independent / Press Association, & Irish Examiner (9 September 2011) – Clergyman in historic SF address:

    A Presbyterian minister has called for a symbolic public day of reconciliation in Northern Ireland as he became the first Protestant clergyman from the region to address a Sinn Fein conference.

    The Reverend David Latimer also described his friend and Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness as one of the “true great leaders of modern times” during his landmark speech at Belfast’s Waterfront Hall.

    The former Army chaplain, who addressed delegates in Irish on a number of occasions, told the republican audience his proposed day of hope and transformation would bring together bereaved on all sides of the conflict…

    Click for text of speech

    Rev Latimer’s church is close to Mr McGuinness’s house in Londonderry and the two have forged an unlikely friendship in the last five years. The Sinn Fein veteran was instrumental in securing funds for the Presbyterian church’s much-needed renovation.

    The clergyman praised the efforts of Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists to agree to share power at Stormont but stressed that more needed to be done to secure peace.

  • An Phoblacht (14 July 2011) – The Second Annual Sinn Féin Summer School – An established forum for progressive alternatives to the status quo:
    Frankie Gallagher Ulster Political Research Group, Sinn Féin Summer School

    Frankie Gallagher, loyalist politician and chief spokesperson for the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group (An Phoblacht)

    … loyalist politician Frankie Gallagher… spoke on the theme ‘The Future of Loyalism, 13 years on from the Good Friday Agreement.’

    Gallagher, chief spokesperson for the UDA-linked Ulster Political Research Group, spoke of the deprivation of the working-class community he represents in east Belfast and of how loyalism has failed to deal with this. This, he said, is in contrast to the way Sinn Féin has represented the community in nationalist areas.

    He told of how he came to vote for the Good Friday Agreement, having a last-minute change of heart in the polling station, and the need for loyalism to now exploit the peace to improve the quality of life for the people it represents. As to the future, he stressed that a changed future for his community, and especially for the younger generation, will depend on the coming together of people across the community divide through dialogue and understanding. He believes that the social cohesion created by this will be crucial to a better future for all and that the political way is the only way forward.

  • An Phoblacht (12 June 2006) – Adams addresses Presbyterian congregation during Wexford visit: Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams visited a number of communities in County Wexford last month, including an historic visit to Enniscorthy Presbyterian Church where he addressed members of the congregation. In Gorey, Adams … visited various local groups including St Aidan’s Day Care centre. In Enniscorthy Adams launched Sinn Féin’s healthcare document. He was invited by Reverend Stephen Rea to meet with the local Presbyterian congregation at the church in Willowpark Road. Adams spoke to individual members of the congregation which included members of the immigrant community.
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    Reverend Stephen Rea extended a warm welcome to Gerry Adams and said the visit was an historic occasion. He added that it was particularly appropriate in a week that saw the sectarian murder of a young Catholic man in Ballymena. Rea welcomed Sinn Féin’s policy of outreach and said he felt deeply that Presybterians in Ireland must take up that offer.

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