Remembering Fr Gerry Reynolds and the Other Blessed Peacemakers in our Society

I was stunned and personally devastated to wake up Monday morning to the news that Fr. Gerry Reynolds, of the Redemptorist community at Clonard Monastery in Belfast, had died. He was 82.

I’d known Fr. Gerry for years living and working in Belfast. While we were not close friends, on several occasions he’d worked with or spoken to groups that I was part of or helping to facilitate. He also very generously gave his time to me while I was researching for my doctorate.

He was a quiet, deeply spiritual man, and his core belief in the unity of all Christian people, regardless of how many ways they thought up to divide themselves, was rooted in a deeply mystical understanding of the person of Christ, our bread and our body.

I have two vivid memories of Fr. Gerry that have stayed with me over the years:

The first is of a cold night in November 2005 in the church hall of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church in South Belfast, at a public meeting with the Methodist minister, the Rev. Harold Good, and Fr. Alec Reid, the two official witnesses to the decommissioning of the Provisional IRA weapons. It was a tense night, full of suspicion and bad feelings. When questions were being taken from the crowd, Loyalist activist Willie Frazer made several badgering and hectoring comments directed at Fr. Reid. Reid lost his temper, accusing the Protestant community of treating the Nationalist community no better than animals and like Hitler treated the Jews. Frazer stormed out of the hall, leading many of his supporters with him. The event was hurriedly drawn to a close; Fr. Gerry, who’d also been on the platform, stepped forward and closed the evening with a call for prayer, particularly, he said, ‘for those that had walked out, that the grace of God would bear their hurt and bring healing to their hearts.’

The other memory is more personal; ironically, it was another cold November day.  I was taking a group of people from various religious backgrounds up to Clonard Monastery in West Belfast to meet with Fr Gerry as part of a programme I was helping to facilitate. I had other errands to run and was going to be a wee bit late, so a colleague got them there on time. I arrived about 15 minutes late, found the large room they were meeting in, and slipped in quietly along the wall. Fr. Gerry kept chatting away with his slow, quiet Limerick accent. Then, about 10 seconds later, he paused and looked at me over his shoulder:

‘You’re very welcome, Jon. You’re very welcome’… He then went on speaking.

Both of these memories, I think, give glimpses at the quiet greatness of this man;

In the former, there was his unwavering belief that the heart of Jesus- and only the heart of Jesus- was capable of healing the hurts of humanity;

in the latter, there was the feeling I had- every single time I was with him- of a welcome in this world that was absolute.

Everything that Fr. Gerry ever said to me in some way reminded me of my value in the eyes of God…

What more epitaph can any human ever ask?

Fr. Gerry, though from Limerick, made Belfast his home-

not simply where he lived and ministered;

his home.

Ronald Wells’ 2005 book ‘Friendship Towards Peace: The Journey of Ken Newell and Gerry Reynolds’, details the story of the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship, a group of Presbyterians and Catholics who regularly met together for fellowship and prayer from 1984 to the present, through some of dark years of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Ken and Gerry’s genuine friendship was the linchpin for much of the Fellowship’s work.

Much of that work was done, if not in secret, then with care, quietly, and without much publicity. They were a small group- most people in their two churches did not participate, and their various church leaderships and hierarchies gave them only muted, tacit approval- if they approved of it at all.

Nevertheless, Fr. Gerry’s and Ken Newell’s work was recognized when they were awarded the Pax Christi peace prize in 1999 in recognition of the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship.

Personally, I think Wells’ book is a classic of peace literature- and particularly in Irish terms- for the simple reason that it draws attention to the role that civil society played in the building of a peace process. Most of the attention on the Irish peace process tends to focus on the role of politicians, political party leadership, and ex-combatants; these are the actors who are most often described (often by themselves) as indispensable.

While it’s certainly true that the role they did play was absolutely vital, it was no more vital than the one played by trade unions, community groups, faith-based organizations, academics, authors, journalists, artists, student groups, and locally-organized peace and reconciliation organizations. In the Irish context, it was very often these types of organizations- and the work of committed individuals within them- that laid important groundwork in paving the way to talks, the ceasefires, multi-party negotiations, and the Agreement.

It is also worth noting that much of the work done by those civil society groups was actively opposed, mocked as naïve, and sometimes violently attacked by the very politicians and combatants who were eventually held up as the ‘heroic’ figures once the negotiations were completed and the Good Friday Agreement signed.

Much of the work of civil society has been overlooked or never adequately recorded.

I was part of a project by the Corrymeela Community called ‘Up-Standers’, designed to record and make available as educational resources the actions of brave individuals during the conflict who made the courageous decision- often at the spur of the moment and at great personal risk- to do the right thing, save a life, diffuse tension, and build the peace. Many who took part were extremely humble, rarely seeing the importance of the small acts they did. Some were hesitant to speak, saying, ‘Ach, sure anyone would have done it.’

But few did. That was the point.

Some in Northern Ireland actively made the conflict worse;

some ignored the conflict altogether, saying it had nothing to do with them;

most just kept their head down and lived life as best they could.

Then there were those who actively worked to bring the conflict to an end, build the peace and, when the peace process moved forward, worked to foster reconciliation and to dismantle the sectarian infrastructure.

These are the Peacemakers.

Trevor Williams,

Fr. Michael Hurley,

Ray Davey,

David Stevens,

the Rev. Ken Newell,

Tomás Ó Fiaich,

John Hume,

Geraldine Smythe,

Anne Odling-Smee,

Betty Williams,

Ciaran McKeown,

Mairead Corrigan,

May Blood,

Enda McDonagh,

Fr. Gerry Reynolds…

These and so many other men and women were- and are- true peacemakers in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Yet many of their contributions to peace- what they did and still do- are marginalized, sidelined, written out of the history.

The real peacemakers of this island are an inconvenient embarrassment to those who for decades blustered and blocked, who wrecked and ruined, and are now praised for their late- very, very late- contribution to making ‘peace’.

The latecomers to peace often refuse to acknowledge their own actions as destructive or violent, or when they do, are quick to rationalize their violence as ‘just’ and ‘inevitable’.

The real peacemakers bear witness to the idea that there were always alternatives to war, even as war and injustice were inflicted on us.

It indeed takes courage to lay down weapons; it also took courage to have never picked them up.

Fr. Gerry always acknowledged the courage of the former; not enough of them have acknowledged his and others’.

It is time for the full story of all of the peacemakers during the conflict to be told.

The death of this quiet, holy, courageous man is a chance to do that.

Rest in peace, Fr. Gerry…

Blessed are the peacemakers…

Jon Hatch is a theologian, educator, and activist. He spent 13 years living and working in North and West Belfast with various reconciliation projects sponsored by Corrymeela, the Irish Peace Centres, and local churches and faith-based groups. He blogs on issues relating to faith, politics, and culture at http://reflectionsforthursdays.blogspot.com.

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  • Turgon

    I am very reticent to attack any obituary typed blog.

    However, it is only fair to point out that there is a different view of the peacemakers.

    My view is that all of us who got on with our lives, growing up, growing old working or not working who went about our business without violence or criminality or support for such were the peacemakers.

    There was and remains an entirely legitimate political disagreement between those who wish to remain part of the UK and those who wish to join the RoI. Provided one pursued those political views peacefully (or indeed for that matter had no interest in politics) then any such person was just as much a peacemaker as those who made their career from what was actually a political position which they self described or had described by others as peacemaking.

    In addition whatever one thinks of Willie Frazer several of his family members were murdered by terrorists and Fr. Reid had likened him and people like him to Nazis. Praying for Frazer and his supporters should have involved acknowledging the inappropriate hurt just added to them by Fr. Reid. Indeed an equally appropriate even Christian response might even have been to walk out with them in solidarity and to speak against his friend’s inappropriate remarks.

  • Gingray

    Jesús Turgon, tis a new low for you, you manage an entire rant on an obituary blog without even name checking Father Reynolds.

  • Turgon

    A rant? Describing people who pursued aims peacefully as peacemakers? Pointing out that calling people Nazis is a bit off?

    Oh well there you go I have plumbed a new low.

  • Gingray

    Indeed Turgon, very low, although your recent gloating over loyalist victories puts your comments about Willie in a new light.

    I do like that you have managed to invoke Godwins law in the very first post, with quite a sinister accusation that you cannot substantiate – unless you can tell us with 100% accuracy that Father Reynolds took no action, either with Father Reid or wee Willie.

    I’m convinced now that your ambiguity over whether you view Catholics as Christians has had a role – a church and a priest are fair game it seems.

    Ultimately your rant will be judged elsewhere, but loving thy neighbour and blessed be the peacemaker are lessons you could pay heed to.

  • Turgon

    Praying publicly for healing for those whom your friend has just publicly insulted as Nazis, yet not pointing out the inappropriateness of the initial comment just as publicly, is hypocrisy of the first order.

    As indeed is accusing me of breaching Godwin’s Law when it was Fr. Reid who started the Nazis comments and the blog author who mentioned it..

    I have never met Willie Frazer and he may well be completely mad / unpleasant whatever. However, it is a simple fact that Reid insulted him. It is also a simple fact that a number of members of his family were murdered.

    Posting pictures of like the above of Frazer on an obit blog is also of dubious appropriateness

  • Gingray

    How do you know what he did or did not do?

    You have made an assumption and used it to attack the man, shame on you for such an unChristian act.

  • Turgon

    No I am assuming nothing. I am using the report above by the blog author who claims to have been an eyewitness.

    You are making a series of assumptions about what might have happened but the eye witness has not reported (and look unlikely in view of the eye witness testimony) to attack me – and on an obit blog.

    Ah well as you have said I have plumbed a new low. I am very glad to have the likes of you to point this out to me.

  • Gingray

    Turgon, you are being an ass.

    You misquoted the original poster several times, of particular note is your failure to mention that he prayed for the grace of God to bear their hurt. How awful.

    You have no idea whether Father Reynolds spoke to Father Reid about his comments or whether he spoke to wee Willie after the event.

    We don’t even need to guess in this instance what would Jesús do – can’t see disparaging a dead man with misquotes being his thing.

  • Turgon

    James 2:15-16

    If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

  • Robin Keogh

    Where were u living at the time Turgon? Nirvana avenue?

    You are deluded. Or ridiculously Niaive. How many of those peacemakers walked by an empty house on their street knowing a person of the opposite religion would never be allowed live there and did nothing about it? How many walked by a man they knew had beaten up someone of the opposite faith but stayed quiet about it? And how many knew who was responsible for burning a family out of their home but stayed silent? How many arrived to work knowing someone of the opposite religion could never get a job there but did nothing about it? How many voted for and campaigned for politicians whose goal was to deprive others of representation or even the right to vote and refused to speak out? How many of these peacemakers on all sides turned a blind eye rather than help their fellow man.

    You display an intelligence which is betrayed by either ignorance or arrogance. Your rose tinted glasses may assist you in distancing yourself from responsibility but dont apply it to everyone, those glasses may allow you to live in a perpetual state of denial or maybe you knew nothing, maybe you were helpless in that culture of despair, but many many of those quiet souls going about their business had it within their power to contribute to a better, fairer and safer society. They chose not to. They stayed silent. They were not peacemakers. They were individualists, they were cowards.

  • Gingray

    Boom!

    I always loved scripture – so much to pick from. Your opening line refers to you attacking an obituary.

    James 4:11-12 ESV

    Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

    – – – –

    Shame Turgon, shame, evil is as evil does, and by James for tho art evil

  • Turgon

    Unlike you Mr. Keogh I was born and bred in Northern Ireland.

    There were no empty houses in my street because I lived in the country: in a 100% Protestant area. A few years ago some houses were bought by Catholics. No one got remotely excited about this.

    I know no one who beat up anyone for any reason and if I did I would go to the police. Likewise I know no one who burned any houses. I have always worked in mixed environments. I have never heard of a politician suggesting depriving anyone of the right to vote. I do know of some politicians (whom I have never supported) who have supported depriving people of the right to life. You have a rather closer association with those politicians than I have.

    The simple reality Mr. Keogh is that for most of us, most of the time in Northern Ireland we did not obsess about the Troubles as much as outsiders (like yourself) think. Rather most of us tried to get on with our lives being decent, upright and honest to all. As such most of us actually were the decent upright peacemakers. Some may have made a song and dance about a political / ecumenical religious position but that does not make them any more righteous.

    If you want to name some peacemakers who did something very active and very special: How about the workmen at Kingsmills who tried to shield their Catholic work colleague from the terrorists, wrongly believing that the terrorists were loyalists. Those peacemakers paid with their lives for their attempts at peacemaking: so if you want to laud extraordinary peacemakers maybe start with them.

    John Bryans
    Robert Chambers
    Reginald Chapman
    Walter Chapman
    Robert Freeburn
    Joseph Lemmon
    John McConville
    James McWhirter
    Robert Walker
    Kenneth Worton

    Peacemakers worthy of remembering and respecting. They gained no honorary doctorates, bursaries, grants, Quango jobs or anything like that: only murder on a country road on a winter’s night. Their names and their honour, however, will remain for ever.

  • Turgon

    I have spoken evil of no one. I have suggested it is hypocrisy to pray for healing for those who have just been wounded by your friend and not criticise that wounding.

    That does not make the individual evil just on that issue at that time hypocritical. You seem to conflate criticism with calling some one evil.

  • Gingray

    Pathetic Turgon

    You continue to misquote. Father Reynolds quite clearly prays for the hurt caused to those who left.

    ‘ that the grace of God would bear their hurt ‘

    Keep clutching at straws – you have, as you put it ‘attacked an obituary’, taking issue with a Catholic priest being labelled a peacemaker.

    It’s sad, and yes it’s evil, as James states, you have judged the man and if you had any Christianity in you you would understand that’s not your job.

  • Turgon

    ” if you had any Christianity in you you would understand that’s not your job”

    From the one who accused me of being judgemental?

  • Gingray

    I am happily judgemental – just because it says judging someone is a sin doesn’t mean I believe it.

    I just find it funny when pretend devout Christians hypocritically pick and choose the bits they like – you have very obviously sinned with your attack on an obituary.

  • Robin Keogh

    Preying on the corpses of those who died to deflect from the central point is very unnatractive even for a TUV devotee. Whatever the moral standards of your own personal circumstances the fact remains that a sectarian state developed under the watchful eye of those who appeased it by keeping shtum. You can decieve yourself into believing that the silent few had no hand act or part in the predictable collapse of the six county society but examples the world over thoughout the ages prove you to be at best in denial or at worst deliberately deceptive.

  • Turgon

    Collapse of Northern Ireland? No it did not collapse despite the best attempts of the terrorists. The reason for that was the behaviour of most people here.

    The central point was that most people were decent and upright. Some paid the ultimate price for that decency. That point has been made very eloquently by the Attorney General John Larkin who referenced Kingsmills as a classic example.

  • Robin Keogh

    Pay attention, i said collapse in ‘society’. Even partial, it was predictable. Most people as you put it defended the actions of a rogue regime and supported discrimination, further – most people ignored the plight of their neighbour. Those ‘most people’ were not by any decent standard peacemakers.

  • Turgon

    That “rogue regime” ended 43 years ago. Despite that the IRA carried on murdering people. Kingsmills was four years later.

    Society did not collapse and it did not collapse because of the decent actions of people of whatever political persuasion who refused to support the terrorists of either side..

    Collective guilt for whole groups of people is the sort of dishonest nonsense espoused by fascists of many different sorts.

    Your attempts to blame most people here is a lying calumny against the people of Northern Ireland of any political view and none. The guilt lies with the terrorists and their supporters. Not with the innocent.

  • Robin Keogh

    More destortion on your part sir, which is a shame considering your claims to christian adherence. Studies show beyond doubt that corrupt regimes can do nothing but lead to disaster. The difference in the six counties was simple, people could have spoken out and challenged the tyranny of the state with little or no consequence. Few did, but the many did not. Your so called peacemakers knew their neighbours were suffering and did nothing.

  • Dan

    Very well said

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘I am very reticent to attack any obituary typed blog.” Turgon

    Perhaps you should have been very very very very reticent and not bothered , There is a time and a place for your below comments – this just was’nt one of them.

    Sermon from the Mount and all that -even if it’s admonitions are more often transgressed than lived up to .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Perhaps, Greenflag, its important to clearly evaluate what Turgon is attempting to say against the single event he is employing to colour an entire (and to my mind very valuable) life. I quote from the article on Willie Frazer in Wikipedia:

    “Frazer made remarks that Catholics had butchered Protestants during the troubles. Father Reid likened unionist treatment of Catholics to the treatment of the Jews by the Nazis. Reid later apologised for the remark, saying he had lost his temper.”

    Anyone who had anything to do with Father Reynolds personally, who actually knew the man rather than simply judging him from what they had read, will be able to sensibly evaluate this. He was a very disciplined man, a man who was intensely passionate about social justice, genuine tolerance and about our disparate understandings of our Christian heritage. In this tense situation his comments when he concluded the evening with prayer speak of the spirit of goodness that radiated from the man, and I have some trouble actually finding what it may be that Turgon is finding so offensive. In his actions Gerry was attempting to hold tight to what could be saved of the evening in his customary spirit of general reconciliation with the exceptionally high standard of human forgiveness that he had consciously disciplined himself to.

    Gerry Reynolds had a genuine heart felt kindness towards everyone he met, and from my experience, believed that although all of us are imperfect (through Original Sin), all of us must be given every understanding by their fellows, who are equally faulted. He will be deeply missed by those of us who oppose violence and intimidation from all quarters and do not simply comment in support of one faction in our tortured community.

  • Simian Droog

    Decent, upright an bigoted? But sure as long as they weren’t violent eh? Such a typically myopic protestant view. Sure we did nothing wrong except stand idly by whilst those “elected” discriminated against a sizable minority. But let’s continue the white wash, “the Troubles” mysteriously arose from the ether catching those decent god fearing protestants unawares, right? Riiiight.

  • Nevin

    Seaan, have you considered the possibility that Turgon might be lumping together folk who were very different eg Ray Davey and John Hume. I only met Father Gerry a few times so I can’t evaluate his life.

    Here’s a snippet from Ed Moloney’s “A Secret History of the IRA”:

    Not long after Adams’s return from New York, in February 1994, the [PRM] think tank began work on producing the strategy paper that would underpin the cease-fire while McGuinness and Kelly, who had both joined the think tank by this stage, negotiated detailed terms with the Reynolds government on behalf of the Army Council, mostly using Father Reid, by now assisted by another Redemptorist, Father Gerry Reynolds, to ferry messages to and from Martin Mansergh. The think tank was now in almost total control of IRA strategy.

    The term ‘peace process’ was really a cover for an anti-unionist political process and it would seem that Father Gerry was also a small cog in this partisan conspiracy.

  • Greenflag 2

    I’m sure Fr Reynolds meant the best as did almost all the clergy of all denominations in NI and Ireland and UK during those times .. But it was NOT a war of religion per se although it suited media hacks everywhere to describe it as such. Being non religious I value the sanctity of life as its the only life we will ever have and some dignity in death as its the only death we’ll ever have. Thus my comment above re Turgon’s remark – He might have waited a few weeks perhaps and started a thread ? I feel sorry for Frazer and his family’s suffering violence but he’s not alone in NI or elsewhere .
    Calling somebody a ‘nazi ‘ is almost de jure these days and in some quarters deserved . Fr Reid went over the top in his remark . Had he been in Gaza during the phosphorus bombing that left a thousand women and children dead the remark might have been more deserved imo.

    It must be hard to be religious when one observes that certain people who deserve it are never incinerated by bolts of lightning. I’ll settle for imperfect justice on this earth while understanding its always a work in progress and is nowhere guaranteed .

  • Greenflag 2

    Everybody is anti unionist except unionists . Cover is /was never needed to be anti unionist . Anti unionism permeates . And its better that it does so peacefully which is what the ‘peacemakers ‘ wanted -even unionist inclined peacemakers . Without them NI would be in a worse state than it is .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    But I think we can all benefit from the sincere work for reconciliation of any good, honest man, no matter how we may differ from their belief systems in what we think ourselves.

    True story. My father in law (a rather louche Episcopalian Priest, a good friend of, amongst others, Lenny Bruce) once stood at an apartment window high in a New York sky scrapper and drunkenly shouted, “go on then, strike me down” during a thunder storm. The window filled with sudden light and he was thrown back into the room. When he was offered a tall shot of iced vodka to aid recovery from shock, his only comment was “Missed!”

    But ever since, I’ve been perhaps neurotically careful……

  • SeaanUiNeill

    It really helps if you actually knew the man Nevin. For example, I only know Ray Davey from his work, but your personal endorsement of him has done much to strengthen my already high opinion of the man. I see nothing in what you are quoting that would alter my opinion of a man willing to work with anyone in order to bring what he believed to be utterly unjustified violence to an end. I would entirely stand by my comments above.

    My personal experience of Father Gerry has always run along the lines of Jon Hatch’s evaluation above. It also perhaps helps one to get the measure of the man to have participated in the inspiring Ecumenical work in which Father Gerry was a leading light.

  • Nevin

    Seaan, my focus wasn’t on opposition to violence but on the ‘anti-ecumenical’ stepping stones process. You might also note that Jon’s context is the island of Ireland – ‘The real peacemakers of this island’, a nationalist one.

  • Nevin

    Greenflag, the actions of the Redemptorists in the stepping-stones process puts a question mark on their sincerity in the C-F Fellowship.

  • Greenflag 2

    How so ? The killing and destruction had to be stopped somehow and the politicians were’nt doing a whole lot . IIRC they were not even on speaking terms for approx 25 years .

  • Greenflag 2

    There are approx 2,000 lighting strikes an hour /day I can’t recall which hitting the Earth . It doesn’t say much for the accuracy of any Deity responsible for emitting these lightning bolts that over 98 % miss their intended target 😉 I trust his loucheness was only momentarily set back in his lifestyle by this warning shot .

    Probably the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in this universe (never mind the others ) is that none of it has tried to contact us yet – excepting of course via the odd lightning bolt 😉

    Saudi Arabia is not a place to question the deity’s existence or motives . Those convicted are rewarded for their doubt or blasphemy by the death penalty /beheading . Europe 1000 AD more or less .

  • Nevin

    Greenflag, the double-hander is reminiscent of the armalite and ballot box strategy but in this case offering a hand of friendship whilst inciting betrayal.

  • John Collins

    Paisley insulted RCs time of number and never apologised without qualification even to the end of his days. At least Reid did apologise quickly and without reservation.

  • Greenflag 2

    Betrayal of what exactly ? Working for peace is’nt betrayal is it ?

  • Nevin

    Have you read the stepping-stones document, Greenflag? Its authors were on a UI mission; they weren’t working for peace.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    I should mention that the flat had one of those Art Deco “Gothic” balconies with a metal frame and metal frame french windows. So divine retribution is frequently helped by iron, something the sidhe folk know only too well, and accordingly avoid.

    Yes, he died recently, forty years after the event, still on at least a bottle of iced vodka and five Havana cigars a day (oh and a little curry!). His “girlfriend” was a very well known new age guru who re-wrote the Bible in the 1980s to “get it right” by substituting in every instance “She” for “He”……

    “Saudi Arabia is not a place to question the deity’s existence or motives”, but alas neither is the west, although for our fellow citizens its any serious questioning of the divinity of Mammon that might just lead to profound social exclusion. On that particular “imaginary friend” I’d have to declare myself at the very least a committed agnostic.

  • Granni Trixie

    As I recorded in another Slugger piece about Fr Reynolds from what I know of his work he is a man to be admired – courageous in getting up close and personal to try to make things better. I think it is unfair to assume that he and Fr Reid had the same outlook as arguably Fr Reid seems to have been ‘captured’ by Republican narratives – so much so that didn’t he claim to trust Republicans word over giving up guns etc? And look how that turned out. Anyway, given this is the week of Fr Reynolds death I regret that anyone uses it to attack him on grounds of guilty by association.

    Also, several of those who persevered in the Peace People right up until the 1990s are not in the list above, it just includes those PP recorded briefly in history. A problem with compiling this kind of list therefore is that inevitably it overlooks people not in the public gaze many of whom tend to be women indeed some of those people were in Women Together and the Peace People.

    In the mid 90s (I think) Rick Wilford conducted research (with another researcher whose name I do not remember) where he found women were highly active in peace makmg fields behind the scenes (despite low numbers in formal politics).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Nevin for posting a link to the “Stepping Stones” document in your reply to me above.

    Yes, it offers an interpretation of “Peace” as leading to a United Ireland, but in what way does that differ in kind from an interpretation of “Peace” leading to a continuing link with Britain, or any interpretation of “Peace” that would attempt to engage with both concepts to find ground for negotiation? In any conflict, where are you going to find peace being negotiated between “utterly objective” parties, who then enforce their “utterly objective” version on those espousing the agendas that represent the aspirations over which embattled factions of the community were engaged in violence? Does not peace negotion begin with positions stated, and enter a process of discussion? I really cannot see what you are having problems with here, and feel that like our earlier discussion about the PD, you may perhaps be making homogenious assumptions about a disparate group of those involved in something who may have, in “real life”, been motiovated by a whole spectrum of differing personal intentions.

    Anyone can dress all the players in team shirts to simplify matters, but only by ignoring those complexities of intention and motivation which are the essence of how those involved are actually engaging. But again, thank you for the truly invaluable service of making these texts available for the likes of myself to draw very different conclusions from. It’s a great help to enable informed democratic discussion.

  • Nevin

    Seaan, why not call a political process a political process rather than attempt to camouflage it much as Desmond Greaves and ‘rights’ activists did back in the late 50s and early 60s?

    Sadly, neither unionists nor nationalists have been prepared to acknowledge/accept the validity of the opposing constitutional aspiration.

  • Granni Trixie

    But would you not agree that the past unionist government presided over a failure of politics?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “Sadly, neither unionists nor nationalists have been prepared to acknowledge/accept the validity of the opposing constitutional aspiration.”

    All too true, Nevin, and so it is for the rest of us to find genuine concern for peace and reconsiliation anywhere we discover it and to cherish the tiny flame of decency and goodness wherever it appears. Sincerely, anyone who had known Father Gerry for any length of time would have counted him amongst those with a deep and sincere ecumenical understanding, and a true desire for a pluralistic peace that would benefit all across our community. He was one of those symbolic “thousand just men” who ensure that the world will not require the attentions of the angels who stage managed that (probably equally symbolic) flood the arc alone survived just yet.

    And, respectfully, I will just have to differ yet again from your personal interpretation of the “Great Civil Rights Conspiricy”, having been intimately involved in the PD myself, and knowing something of the subilties of what went on. But differ respectfully………..

  • Greenflag 2

    Our Father who lives in Wall St , London and Shanghai
    Blessed be thy investments .
    May thy profits accumulate .Thy will be done in Delhi and Accra and Tripoli as it is in Dublin Belfast and the City of London.
    Give us every quarter more market share and share with no one our hedge fund billions and ponzi schemes .
    .And strike with lightning bolts or usurious money market rates those who would oppose us .

    For thine is the Kingdom of War and Mammon and the deliverer of nations into slavery and destruction for ever and ever

    AL Gorithm Amen

  • Greenflag 2

    So what .So was Alice in Wonderland . Anyway w hy is working for a UI not working for peace ? Are you suggesting that 85 % or more of the population of this island should give up their aspiration for a UI ? Whats your practical alternative ? I don’t see any other than a messy repartition which would be even worse for those of the unionist tradition .

    As I see it the GFA is as good as it’ll get until and if demographics makes the difference . Till then there remains boring politics and the battle a day as the DUP leader promised . As long as they keep the guns quiet I’m not that much fussed .

  • Nevin

    Conspiracy is at the heart of politics, Seaan, there’s nothing terribly great about it!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thnak you Greenflag for a litany in the true spirit of our age.

    A passing aquaintance, David Rockefeller, described the new priesthood, saiding in 1991 “The supra-national soverignty of an intellectial elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

    You may only imagine my own response.

  • Greenflag 2

    My apologies for the litany . This was not the thread for it 🙁
    Your acquaintance may have had a point in 1991 when he made his point . The end of totalitarian communism presaged a new optimistic era and even an end of history as per Fukuyama . The 20 th century had seen the worst effects of ‘nationalism ‘ taken to extremes under cover of fascism and nazism .

    The financial crisis (still ongoing and perhaps worse to come ) of 2007/ 2008 and the chaos that ensued for economies all across the globe should be evidence of the folly of allowing bankers to write their corporate agendas into legislation and the subsequent failure of our ‘intellectual elite ‘ i.e our politicians to see further than their personal reelection .
    There are no silver bullets of course to fix the problem of the crisis of modern financial sector led capitalism but it would be a comfort to know that some of our leaders were at least ‘trying ‘ ! None that I have read of bar Angela Merkel but that’s another story.

  • Simian Droog

    And yet, the god fearing “innocent” and the terrorist would happily march on their Glorious anti-catholic celebratory day, to the same field and listen to the same speeches filled with bigotry and triumphalism. The line is more blurred than you care to remember. Or deliberately choose to.

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