Church of Ireland hierarchy defends Eames

In this week’s Church of Ireland Gazette there is a response from the Church of Ireland Working Group to criticism of Lord Eames and the Consultative Group on the Past (Eames Bradley). The Gazette’s article is in replying to a letter written by Dr. Hazlett Lynch, the director of victims’ support group, West Tyrone Voice. In that letter Dr. Lynch has called on the CoI to apologise for former Archbishop of Armagh Lord Eames’ role in the Consultative Group on the Past. Dr. Lynch has complained that the Bishop of Clogher (Rt Revd Michael Jackson) simply replied “noting” his letter but had “simply dismissed” what he had said and that the letter from the Bishop was a “non-reply”.
According to the Gazette Dr. Lynch told them: “For many people, Lord Eames equals the Church of Ireland,” and added that the Church therefore now had a responsibility either to disassociate itself from Lord Eames’ views regarding the CGP report, or to apologise. In response to that the Gazette asked for and received we received the following joint statement from Bishop Jackson and the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin:

“The response to Dr Hazlett Lynch, to which you refer in your enquiry, was neither dismissive nor a ‘non-reply’. The response sought to suggest that with regard to the Report of the Consultative Group on the Past, the entirety of the proposals deserves consideration as the proposals result from an extensive consultation process.

We deplore what we regard as a disgraceful personal attack on Lord Eames. He gave over 40 years’ service in the ministry of the Church of Ireland, serving as Primate of all Ireland for more than 20 years. His contribution to the Peace Process has been publicly recognised. His compassion during those years in ministering to many victims and survivors bears comparison with that of any other individual. He was given the task of co-chairing the Consultative Group on the Past. It is not for us, nor for the Church of Ireland, nor, perhaps, even for the members of the Consultative Group, to be called on to apologise for the gathering together of this material. They were officially asked and publicly appointed to do that.”

What this row shows, I suspect, is that Eames has utterly demolished his own credibility with this report (as I repeatedly predicted he would). All the damage limitation by leading CoI clerics will, I fear, merely make them seem almost as stubbornly foolish, naïve and out of touch with their own people as Eames has already done.

  • J O’Donovan

    The (self styled) Church of Ireland Gazette is a sectarian rag. During the Troubles, they used to send their rag to anyone who wrote a (published) letter to any newspaper pointing out the war crimes of the Brits and their colonial lackeys (ie the Huns).
    Botton line: Once the Gazette is involved, it may as well be the UFF. They probably write it in that church atop Garvaghy Road.
    On a related theme: I was reviewing in The Writers Guide all the newspapers in Britain and Ireland. Only the News Letter of all those national (both) and regional papers stressed their political (= religious) affiliation. Time for deNazifation, me thinks.

  • J O’Donovan

    PS: I like the ad associated with this: learn Biblical Hebrew.
    From Israel’s best teachers: No thanks.

  • Sarah

    God’s Tithing Law

  • During the Troubles, they used to send their rag to anyone who wrote a (published) letter to any newspaper pointing out the war crimes of the Brits and their colonial lackeys (ie the Huns).

    Is that how you become so familiar with it?

  • became*

    Damn this keyboard!

  • cynic

    “The (self styled) Church of Ireland Gazette is a sectarian rag”

    No it isn’t. It’s just trying to help you understand the errors of your ways that are imperilling your soul.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon
    Whatever you think of Lord Eames and the report, this kind of personal attack is poor stuff. If you reflect further, I hope you decide that it’s better to debate rationally than snipe ad hominem. Who do you think this sort of comment influences? Are we all supposed to bow down forever before the just wrath of some victims’ reps? Think again.

  • Turgon

    Brian,
    As you well know I have had a series of posts about Eames Bradley including long analytical ones. Noting the reaction to Eames’s actions is not an ad hominem attack.

    I seem to remember many people complaining about how I was dismissing Eames and complaining about his views prior to his report coming out. I am afraid I seem to have been vindicated: practically everyone within the unionist community and the overwhelming majority of the nationalist community seem to have found his report odious. As one of the principle authors of this utterly immoral nonsense he must take personal responsibility for it. For victims to complain about his actions is entirely acceptable and for me to concur with them is equally acceptable. If you reflect a little further you might remember than in a blog one expresses one’s own opinions and analysis: I always thought that was the general idea.

  • ArchiePurple

    BRIAN WALKER:

    Yes we are supposed to bow down forever before the just wrath of victims’ group representatives, whilst victims and their families are classified the same as the families of those terrorists who murdered them or wished to do so. Until there is acceptance by Government and the likes of Eames that there are real victims and perpretators who became victims because of their vile acts, then they will be vilified and rightly so. Like the terrorists who died Eames and Bradley and the other members of their group brought it upon themselves by their disgraceful and disgusting report.

    Noticeable that they each took their £69,000 plus and apart from the Gaelic player on the group haven’t had the courage to put their head above the parapet !! Shame on the lot of them.

  • a dunadien

    Turgon, another good piece building on previous posts on this subject.

    Ignore Walker, his patronising lecturing is not worth spending time considering.

  • William

    From the Joint Bishops in response to Hazlett Lynch:

    ‘…His [Eames] contribution to the Peace Process has been publicly recognised’

    Yes, Blair’s propaganda chief, Tom Kelly identified as a person ‘who could be used to ensure the success of the Referendum’ and he was a useful apologist for Government. Yes, he attended funerals and his monotic tone of voice was suitable on such occasions. However, each of those who funerals he attended or participated in has now been let down by him, by his acceptance of terrorist victims being the same as them. He should be ashamed of himself. I see in the paper the other day that each of the Group were paid almost £70k …. nice work if you can get it…another Lundy who has betrayed his own flock. Eames is a shameless money grabber and a disgrace to the Church of Ireland. Likewise those other clerics of the Reformed faith who were on the panel.

  • J O’Donovan: “the Brits and their colonial lackeys (ie the Huns)”

    William: “another Lundy who has betrayed his own flock”

    Why pay £50 to go see an Old Firm match when you can have it all free here on slugger?

  • Turgon

    I had not seen the bit about the £69,000 can someone give me a link?

    As I suggested in one of my longer blogs on the subject, one which maybe even Brian thinks was rational debate (maybe not since it seems to disagree with his analysis) Eames Bradley seem to rate the value of a human life as the same as a Ford Focus. The value of their time, however, seems to be more in luxury Mercedes territory.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon,
    I suppose I’m depressed after all these years when intelligent people are unable to see another point of view on a matter of morality without accusing the holder of moral turpitude. I make a distinction between this point and the matter of recognition payments.

    You write: “As one of the principle authors of this utterly immoral nonsense he must take personal responsibility for it.”

    On truth and reconciliation Eames/Bradley write:

    “Forgetfulness plays no useful part in true forgiveness. The most common and most self-defeating misunderstanding of forgiveness consists in thinking that it can be done unilaterally. It is simply not possible to complete an act of forgiveness unless a wrong is acknowledged.”

    This is, I believe, a classic statement of Christian values which I guess many humanists would accept. I fear your comment “Eames Bradley seem to rate the value of a human life as the same as a Ford Focus.” is simply slanderous abuse and is no useful addition to your other more thoughtful comments. I suppose I’ve always been puzzled by those who like yourself would adhere to decent traditional values go on to attack with such anger and I suspect hurt bewilderment, those who essentially share those values and yet come to different conclusions; and by the staggering disrespect they sometimes show to so many holders of high office or rank on their own side who have looked over to the other side. Would you talk like this to Robin Eames’ face, I wonder or would you employ a more respectful(I don’t mean deferential) form of discourse? Why don’t you address the Report directly rather than from the sidelines? I honestly believe this type of comment is a symptom of isolation rather than self-realisation. I have no answer to it and fear it will subside only with time and wider contacts.

    The asymmetry between those who cherish the memory of a State founded on the threat of force, sustained by a democratic deficit, and those who so brutally rebelled against it, cannot be rectified, if left in those terms.

    While Eames/Bradley’s good faith is obvious to me, I am no fan of the report, if you care to read my submission on the Slugger special website:

    http://www.consultationonthepast.org/?p=26#comments

    Extracts:

     The report writers assume a basic moral consensus which does not yet exist.

     They hanker after a soft landing from the Troubles and play down the need to learn hard lessons.

     They concentrate overmuch on the testimony of victims and survivors, in the apparent belief that if that category can be satisfied, the rest of us will follow.

     Preferring to treat the information recovery as a private exercise for relatives, they lack any clear concept of the wider public interest.

    Their moralistic approach bristles with fallacies, question-begging and assumed answers without analysis. “Resolution “ would have been a better goal than “ reconciliation.”

    Among conclusions_

     Politicians should have been bound into the process openly at the formative stage. On the idea of recognition payments for instance, they would have had to explain to their own public why they would deny payments to their own side’s victims, in order to deny them to their opponents ’ – which might be called cutting off their nose to spite their face. They would also have come under pressure to offer their own ideas rather than merely reacting negatively. As it is, the IRA and all other paramilitaries are taking shelter under the cover of the unionist rejection of recognition payments.

     Government, other pubic representatives, legal and police figures should have been examined on the whole range of the Consultation, but especially on the question of replacing judicial public inquiry by private story-telling. It is far from clear for instance, that all aspects of this proposal are human rights compliant. As government is detached from the process, it will be easier for them to kick it into the long grass.

     The question of general responsibility before the law should have been examined, as it relates to belief that the Report’s avowedly neutral approach as between public servants defending the State and those attacking it, in reality militates against State servants, where the trail of evidence is usually clearer than for paramilitaries. Do policemen and soldiers have the same or greater obligations under the law than civilians (who may be paramilitaries)? How well observed were the obligations of the State’s legal monopoly of the use of force?

     Actuarial and legal assessments might have been made on real need and anomalous treatment especially for victims or the 1970s and 80s, rather than plucking the idea of recognition payments out of the air – or rather from the Celtic Tiger in its glory days. These might have proved a less controversial alternative.

  • Turgon

    Brian,
    You know as well as I do that I addressed the report: I have done several blogs on it, including a very long one the day it came out, addressing most of its specifics. To now accuse me of only indulging in attacking Eames is utterly dishonest as you know full well.

    I would ask you to withdraw that claim as it is manifestly untrue.

    I can, have done and will continue to attack the substance of the report. I will also attack Eames for championing this and your lecturing will not stop me.

    You say Eames’s good faitb is obvious: why then all the leaks, why then dismissing most of the written submissions, why did the victims groups say their views had been completely ignored? And now why do we discover that Eames thinks people’s lives are worth £12,000 whereas his time is worth £69,000 (well I guess a bishop could not be reduced to a Ford Focus). I reserve the right to attack hypocrisy where I see it.

    I repeatedly questioned Eames’s motivations and actions: initially many tried to defend him, now fewer seem so inclined; I guess at least you are showing consistency. However, it is a consistency despite all the evidence.

    Rest assurred I would probably be more vitriolic to Eames’s face: incidentally my cousins live near Eames and know him so I may get to give him a piece of my mind. The fact that he held high rank in a church makes his nauseating betrayl of common morality even more odious.

    In terms of the report writers assuming a basic moral consensus you are right. The basic moral consensus of practically everyone is that perpetrators who died in the process of committing their evil acts are different to real victims (Kathyrn Eakin is different to Lenny Murphy). Practically everyone on all sides believes that: strangely Eames disagrees. The fact that he is morally out on a limb is pretty obvious and it is not unreasonable to point it out. It is also not unreasonable for Dr. Lynch to complain about it and it is not ubnreasonable for me to support Dr. Lynch’s comments. By all means disagree with me but try to admit that I have done blogs about the report: trying to imply the opposite is simply dishonesty on your behalf.

  • Brian Walker

    Turgon,
    I acknowledged your fuller treatment when I said:

    “I fear your comment “Eames Bradley seem to rate the value of a human life as the same as a Ford Focus.” is simply slanderous abuse and is no useful addition to your other more thoughtful comments.”

    There is no “dishonesty” here. I’m afraid you’re now doing to me in a small way what you did to Lord Eames in a big way: wrongly accusing me of bad faith because you do not accept a particular moral judgement. I am usually impressed by your willingness to argue patiently rather than ranting. On this one, I fear you have let yourself down. But we will not agree on this…

  • Kinda o/t I know, but does Lord Eames sit in the House of Lords as a Lord Spiritual or a Lord Temporal? Anyone know?

  • Brian Walker

    CO, Eames is a lord temporal, a cross bench peer. Lords Spiritual are only 26 bishops of the established Church of England. They do not carry the title of Baron ( Lord)

  • Very interesting; thanks.

  • Turgon

    Brian,
    At the end of the day Eames is offering £12,000 to stuff people mouth’s with money. The fact that I have called it a Ford Focus is simply to show how he values these people’s grief: the fact that he takes a Mercedes S class for his trouble shows how he values himself.

    In terms of this “I am usually impressed by your willingness to argue patiently rather than ranting. On this one, I fear you have let yourself down.” All I can say is drop the condescending nonsense: it is not that you are letting yourself down it is simply a pretty pathetic argument.

    As to acknowledging my longer blog maybe you should be a bit more honest and explicit; you are simply twisting. You tried to imply that I had done no analysis of Eames Bradley and I caught you out.

  • Turgon

    Brian,
    Sorry had to end post early.

    I must confess to being genuinely bemused by your defence of Eames. You are of course entitled to your own opinion but very large numbers of people here are disgusted by Eames’s position. As a professional journalist your deference to this individual is surprising.

    I have been consistent in my complaints about Eames and his motivations. You may disagree with me but I was saying this long before the report came out. It seems most unionists and indeed nationalists now have a similar position to me.

    Now by all means carry on defending him: that is entirely your right but firstly I am mystified as to why and secondly try not to tell lies about positions I have adopted: you might even admit I have been consistent and it seems most people are inclined to agree with me.

  • west belfast

    Is this the same Mr Lynch who carried a placard with the TUV logo during the protest at the Eames Bradly report launch?

    Turgon do you and your TUV naysayers believe this type of thing is a vote winner?