Unionism needs to focus on the future

Brian Feeney tells Unionists that they must emulate the process that the British Conservatives are now beginning to contemplate – focusing on the future rather than the past.

  • spirit-level

    Thank goodness for wise men of the calibre of Mr. Feeney, speaking with authority and grace; like an OT prophet crying in the wilderness outside of Jerusalem.
    If only Fr. Reid was as measured. He could have compared OO to KKK, with Catholics as “niggas”, and would not have had to apologise.

  • slug9987

    On a more positive note:

    Clergy meet to tackle sectarianism

    By Nevin Farrell

    14 October 2005
    A huge gathering of church leaders – unprecedented in Ballymena – was convened this week in a bid to stamp out sectarianism in the County Antrim district which was ravaged by inter-communal strife during the summer.

    Around 80 churches from across the borough were represented at the function in the Ross Park Hotel.

    Ballymena suffered a spate of attacks over the summer with churches, schools, businesses, homes and individuals being targeted.

    The gathering included representatives from all of the major churches and it is hoped the meeting will bring people in the area together.

    DUP councillor Tommy Nicholl, who was instrumental in calling the conference, said: “We want to bring the people together.

    “As a first step I invited the clergy together. This is only the first step on a road that has a number of steps.

    “I had to start somewhere and where better than with the clergy?”

    Fr Paul Symonds, one of priests in Ballymena where Catholic churches were attacked, attended.

    He said: “The mayor talked about uniting minds, you can’t unite minds unless you meet together and we have had that opportunity today.”

    At the conference representatives were questioned and it is understood a report will now be prepared.

    The church leaders were also addressed by Ballymena PSNI district commander, Superintendent Terry Shevlin, who outlined the impact sectarianism is having.

    Organisers hope the anti-sectarian message of unity shown will filter through to the rest of the community. More events are planned.

  • slug9987

    Read more about this important civic response in

  • slug9987

    Read more about this important civic response in Ballymena

  • esmereldavillalobos

    slug9987

    A positive move and not before time.

    However, to strike a note of caution, does anyone think these mindless thugs are regular, God-fearing churchgoers and if not how much influence are the clergy going to be able to exert on them?

    Seems to be a nice idea with little prospect of meaningful product at the end.

  • slug

    Esmeraldavillalobos

    Well there is now at grass-roots level a considerable degree of cooperation and contact between one of the Catholic Churches and one of the Presbyterian Churches in Ballymena – e.g. the ministers/priests are cross-visiting. I don’t want to draw too much attention to this or tell you which churches. It’s not being done in a high profile way and not being done for the PR and all the better for that. But there are things going on at ground level between these two congregations.

    Churchgoing is still a reasonably mainstream activity in Ballymena. The thugs are the minority. The mainstream can set an example. And it is always worthwhile to talk about these things to share understanding of the problem.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    I’m all for talking and I reiterate that I feel it’s a positive move. The things that should unite the people are much more numerous than the things that divide them. I’m glad to see the congregations talking, they are the mainstream and do set an example. What would be nice is if these discussions lead to a workable strategy to deal with church attacks/OO hall attacks but I find myself feeling quite sceptical about the effectiveness of that if and when it happens. Nonetheless, it’s a good move and quite a coup for the DUP to be at the front of it.

  • slug

    esmeraldavillalobos

    Can I emphasise that the sort of things I discussed in my 04:13 – those things are ‘grass-roots’ level between individual church congregations and not political. The Catholic fathers/priests in Ballymena deserve enormous credit, and some of the presbyterian ministers do too.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Long may it continue!

    This is all pretty consensual, isn’t it? :0

  • slug

    esmeraldavillalobos

    Another point. I think that an awful lot of Presbyterian church-going (and non-church going) people in Ballymena are really disgusted at the grafitti and murals that Catholics have to walk over/past (e.g. a 6 foot high red hand) to go into their church in Harryville. It really pains me, for example, that this is the case. This is a big issue for many of us.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Slug

    Any attack on any church or its congregation is to be deplored. I’ve grown out of all that (churchgoing) myself but those who do participate should be able to do so without fear or intimidation. I’m glad you feel it’s a big issue, it would appear to be fundamental to a learning/healing process to realise that bricks and mortar are not the issue, neither is the Gospel that is preached there. It’s fear of the unknown and lack of integration & education. Any initiative to deal with that I welcome. Good luck to all concerned.

  • Rabelais

    At the risk of appearing unconsesual I don’t really know that getting Protestants and Catholics together is really the point. To return to Brian Feeney’s original argument I think that political progress will only be possible when the ‘protestant community’ engages in a dialogue with itself about what sort of future it proposes for itself and how it wishes to configure its relations with others. At the moment protestatnts seem to be suffering not obly a lack of political leadership but also a massive identity crisis and this will always blight their relationship with others.

  • James Orr

    Classic intro to this thread:

    “…Brian Feeney tells Unionists that they must…” 😉

  • bob

    Unionists need to focus on the smoking gun of unionist paramilitarism.

    Man shot last night in Rathcoole & two men shot this evening on the Shankill.

  • pakman

    Feenys’ bile sits easily within this weeks’ Nazi debate. The dog and vomit comments would not have been out of place in pages the Volkisher Beobachter.

  • ulsterman

    Very interesting. Feeny belongs to a party that obtained 15% of the vote. Perhaps it is the SDLP who should be thinking where they are going?.

    We have already arrived. The Union today is more secure than ever.The Irish government does’nt want you. Fr Reid has only demonstrated the time warp the Catholic Church is in.

    The future is bright, the future is orange.

  • bob

    The future is bright, the future is carnage

    Might be a better description for modern day unionism.

    Silence from the politicians as working class unionism continues to implode.

    Yet more unionist paramilitary violence last night with the attempted murder of a man in Monkstown

  • trig

    Unionists clearly have a high tolerance level towards punishment beatings & shootings within their areas.

    They screamed & shouted from the rooftops when republicans were carrying out such acts, yet when it is unionist areas they remain silent.

  • trig

    Just reading of another loyalist attack in Dromore.

  • TAFKABO

    Instead, each summer, when their sectarian hormones come on heat unionism returns like a dog to its own vomit.

    I stopped reading at this point, and frankly, I’m dissapointed in this site allowing such incitement to hatred pass as acceptable comment.

    With every day that passes we see another example of nationalist bigotry in the media.
    it seems that loyalist bigots write their hate on gable walls, nationalists in newspapers.