Norman Hamilton and inconsistent moderation

The Presbyterian Church is tonight due to elect a new moderator. Update: Ivan Patterson elected (thanks Drumlin’s Rock). Presbyterian moderators are elected every year: in actual fact the office has almost no power; the moderator presides over the General Assembly in the summer and although often perceived as the leader of the church that is not really correct, as such a position does not exist within Presbyterianism. It must be remembered that ministers are not even the leaders within their own churches: they may often function as such but are in reality merely the teaching elder and as such no more important than any other elder. Indeed even elders are not that powerful: the priesthood of all believers is an important concept within Presbyterianism and the autonomy of each believer before God is central. The church can in theory exercise some disciplinary functions but they are limited and almost never used.

The Presbyterian Church is a broad one with the majority of it being evangelical: indeed within areas such as the Ballymena Bible Belt and its extensions into County Londonderry and elsewhere as far afield as rural County Down, there is often little theological difference between it and the Free Presbyterian Church.

Other parts of the church are much more liberal and ecumenical. This somewhat disparate mix has been held together for years remarkably successfully by a number of different strategies, one of which has been the unofficial rotating of the moderatorship between the theologically conservative and liberal wings on a largely alternate basis. The last moderator was a conservative Stafford Carson and the current one is a liberal Norman Hamilton: hence, no matter how much members of the church or ministers disapprove of the current moderator they know that next year one will come along more to their liking.

In general the more conservative minded moderators are less interested in publicity: few outside the Presbyterian Church would know their names for more than a year or two after their moderatorship and even during their moderatoral year they tend to concern themselves mainly with attending church functions (the Presbyterian Herald always has photographs of them opening halls, being at the instillation of new elders and visiting assorted centenarians). The last conservative Stafford Carson did have a somewhat higher profile due to his very open views on women ministers and problems with the Presbyterian Mutual Society.

The current moderator Rev. Norman Hamilton has thus far courted controversy more than most. He has at times seemed to be especially interested in making headlines and has annoyed some of his more conservative fellow Presbyterians; sometimes it seems without much thought to consistency.

Hamilton had hardly been installed moderator before he dashed off to Londonderry to meet the Bloody Sunday families: this despite not being known to have an interest in the issue and not being from the area. Had he been involved with the families beforehand it might have been understandable. However, in the absence of this and in view of the very public fashion in which he announced this decision it looked a little like headline chasing. The subsequent report of the HET into the Claudy Bombing (in which Presbyterians died) resulted in no such instant visit: explained by the moderator being out of the country. It was reported by the church that Hamilton would be travelling to the Northwest and possibly meeting the families after his return but this seems to have been part of a general visit to the area and Hamilton seemed less inclined to make a song and dance about it.

This week the News Letter is carrying the visit of the moderator and others to see Peter Robinson and other leading DUP members which may not seem especially controversial but in view of things said by previous moderators, most notably John Dunlop, about the DUP and its founder (and of course things said by Dr. Paisley about the Presbyterian Church) it is maybe a mild departure from the past.

Possibly more controversial was Hamilton’s recent meeting with Gerry Adams. Here, however, is where Hamilton’s inconsistency is again to be seen.

At the time of the Pope’s visit to the UK Hamilton behaved in what seemed a somewhat bizarre fashion. He attended a joint service which involved the Pope: something many evangelicals would have refused to do; yet he refused to meet or shake hands with the pope. This seemed a strange position: one could meet the man yet refuse to engage in worship with him: many Christians would happily meet a Muslim, Hindu or Buddist spiritual leader (maybe the Dali Lama) yet decline to engage in worship with them due to theological differences.

What makes Hamilton’s subsequent decision even more bizarre is that he explained this refusal to meet the Pope as due to the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to be active enough in investigating clerical sex abuse. At the time Hamilton stated:

“Colleagues of mine are picking up pastoral issues within the Catholic Church, where Catholic families are coming to them asking for pastoral help, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances, because they do not want Catholic clergy to deal with them in light of the abuse scandals.”

However, Hamilton seemed quite happy to meet Gerry Adams despite the latter’s clear failure to deal adequately with the issue of child abuse. Of course being inadequately proactive over child abuse is arguably one of the less serious issues which Adams has been accused of over the years: yet Hamilton was happy to meet Adams (complete with hand shake as seen here).

Hamilton has another few months left of his moderatorship to run and presumably will have further opportunities to display his remarkably variable views on a range of issues. Since the next moderator is likely to be a conservative evangelical and they are usually somewhat more publicity shy it is likely that next year the public at large will see less of the Presbyterian Moderator.

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  • Drumlins Rock

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-12341167

    Quick update, new moderator has been elected, I believe Newcastle is quite an active congregation, and have extended the church recently, don’t know that much about him, but I hope he dosn’t do the headline grabbing stunts like Norman, running around after Gerry made me cringe. (ok the striped shirt with the dog collar made me cringe even more but thats a different issue ) I from the tradition that the Moderator is there to “moderate” the discussion at assembly for one a week a year, and for cutting ribbons and presenting cards.

    (PS Turgon, I think if you look into it Tyrone Presbytery is probably the most conservative! )

  • Alf

    I also cringed when I saw him meeting Adams. The bould Uncle Gerry and Hamilton said the meeting was about dealing with sectarianism. Of course Uncle Gerry made that sound as if it was all about Proddy sectarianism, and Hamilton stood there agreeing with him like the gullible bollocks that he is.

    Teaching Elder my hole.

  • Turgon,

    Arre you saying that Norman Hamilton’s conduct was a “flash in the pan” soon to be forgotten or will he have left some sort of legacy through his actions?

    There are a lot of gaps in the information here. I will not attempt to fill them. I know nothing about Hamilton, his actions or his motives. All I will say is that I would like to see more public displays of ecumenical fellowship between Christian and other religious leaders, particularly across the Protestant / Catholic divide.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I am not a Presbyterian and relunctant to say much about the Presbyterian solution to a Presbyterian problem……the rotating of Moderator between conservative and liberal wings.
    The simple fact is that there are many outstanding Presbyterian churchmen who have contributed to their Society and “our” society……John Morrow, Ray Davey, John Dunlop, Kenneth Newll among them.
    As a general rule, they are ministers in enlightened churches and true inheritors of Edinburgh enlightenment.
    On the other hand we have the very epitome of Scottish sabatarian narrowness…..Donald Gillies springs to mind.

    These conservative moderators have a low profile for two reasons…..embarrassment at their own conservatism and also because they have little to add to broader society.
    Turgon says that Dr Hamilton is consistent. I find him refreshingly independent and not quite ready to be pigeon-holed into other peoples agenda.

    Certainly at the SDLP conference in November he was refreshingly honest. Not being an Orange man himself, he frankly called for more toleration to be shown by the Ardoyne residents. Indeed a voice from the floor Cllr Bobby Loughran from Antrim reminded him that his Ancient Order of Hibernians only walked where they wer wanted.
    It was a difficult moment. Dr Hamilton was an honoured guest but despite the SDLP outreach (Margaret Ritchies poppy), I think that the SDLP membership was more in tune with Bobby Loughran. Perhaps its generational but the old warhorses deserve respect.
    More controversially but adamantly Dr Hamilton cautioned against the cure all of integrated education. Maybe Protestant churches feel they have “more to lose” but I was deeply impressed by his statement that “there is no such thing as value free education”
    Neither of these stances are “liberal” but rather a defence of the Presbyterian church members on the Crumlin Road and the broader Presbyterian interest.
    The “charge” against him in respect of Bloody Sunday Saville Report is risible. And frankly sad.
    As for meeting Gerry Adams……surely theres some Biblical stuff about Jesus talking to sinners. Dr Hamilton was hardly joining Sinn Féin.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops typo should read……”Turgon says Dr Hamilton is INCONSISTENT but I find him refreshingly independent

  • Alf

    Fitz,

    Jesus met Satan when he went into the wilderness, but he didn’t end up giving him a propaganda boost.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Seymour, the impression I got was it was a stunt for the cameras and certainly not “a public display of ecumenical fellowship”, the only legacy a moderator should leave is being able to fairly deal with any contentious issues raised at the assembly, anything else is beyond his remit, he is not a church Leader, but has a representative role for that year only. As Turgon said any Elder from Ballywhere-ever is equal in authority to the moderator.

  • Turgon, the ankle-biters have already been after me for pointing out the ‘devolved’ nature of the numerous varieties of Presbyterianism compared with the more centrally controlled structures of other Christian denominations.

    I’m surprised that you expect consistency/rigidity from Presbyterians let alone any body that contains them. Even Free Presbyterians with their Ulster Baptist roots have been known to behave erratically eg Ian Paisley.

    You could probably argue that Presbyterians are more at home in republicanism and socialism than members of other denominations.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, you always raise the the best historical points! Reading back in history I do often wonder is there two different Presbyterian churches, the free thinking enlightenment variety and the Puritanical variety, however I would suspect there was and is a vast variety in-between and the strict democratic code, and lack of hierarchy is what has kept it together. The other plus is that becoming moderator is such a random and essentially minor role it is not worth striving for,therefore allowing for more free thinking and less sucking up to “superiors”.

  • FJH and DR, the New Light Frances Hutcheson, an Ulsterman with Scottish roots, was one of the fathers of Scottish Enlightenment whereas his father was Old Light.

    “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” and “a public sense, or sensus communis, a determination to be pleased with the happiness of others and to be uneasy at their misery” are attributed to Hutcheson.

  • DR, PCI represents the merger of two strands:

    “1840 the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland was formed, and the Seceder Synod joined with the Synod of Ulster”

    Seceders in Croaghmore opened a new church in 1829. There appears to have been some dispute over the selection of a new minister because at the first service some ‘seceded’ and soon after built a new church less than a mile away.

    I can think of four neighbouring Presbyterian families who went to four different Presbyterian Churches; this demonstrates something of the fluidity/independence of Presbyterians.

  • OOPS, that should have been Francis Hutcheson 🙂

  • “Cllr Bobby Loughran from Antrim reminded him that his Ancient Order of Hibernians only walked where they wer wanted.”

    fjh, the Parades Commission would demur: “Commission restricts Nationalist parade“.

  • Driftwood
  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Nevin…..Cllr Bobby Loughran said that they only WALKED where they are wanted. Are you suggesting that the AOH in Kilkeel insisted on marching the route that the Parades Commission though unacceptable?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Drumlins Rock, thank you.
    In the early days of UTV….the epilogue rotated weekly around four clergymen from the four main churches. The Presbyterian was very often Rev Donald Gillies who was definitely one of the old school.

  • Turgon

    Thank you all.

    What I find utterly bizarre and inconsistent about Hamilton is his refusal to meet or shake hands with the Pope (despite his willingness to attend a service with him). His stated reason for refusal to meet or shake hands was the Vatican’s failure to act adequately over child abuse. Then he was happy to meet Gerry Adams and shake his hand despite the latter’s failings over child abuse let alone the other accusations levelled against him.

    It is interesting and illustrative that FJH mentions mainly liberal moderators: I could rhyme off a list of utterly godly conservative moderators: the difference seems to be that the many liberals relish whereas the conservatives largely eschew the media spotlight.

    Seymour,
    You raise ecumenism: many Presbyterians are opposed to that on theological groungs. My issue about Hamilton is, however, not ecuminism. It is rather that he would not meet nor shake hands with the leader of The Roman Catholic Church and claimed this decision was over failure to take adequate action over child abuse. He then met Adams and shook his hand despite the self same and even more serious allegations made against Adams.

  • fjh, the AOH in Kilkeel became a victim of the apartheid strategy promoted by Republican paramilitarism. This strategy also determined who could live in districts subject to paramilitary control and has been mirrored by Loyalists.

  • Turgon, you are IMO portraying conservative PCI clergy as folks with a ‘we ourselves’ mentality, the Levites of the Good Samaritan parable. The notion that conservative clergy of whatever hue avoid the media spotlight is a new one on me. Who appears in the media is also an editorial choice, not just that of a cleric.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    A fair criticism maybe. I knew Harry Allen who was a moderator in the 1990s and he was rarely called by media types. His main interest was preaching the gospel etc.

    I think the media is part of the problem. However, in addition I think a lot of the more conservative moderators take the fact that they are not the leader of the church extremely seriously. The liberals seem more keen on being leaders: I once called them prelates and I think that is not far off the mark. John Dunlop continued to get himself in the media spotlight for years and was always being presented as a leading Presbyterain. In reality as Drumlin’s Rock has pointed out he was no more important than the elders in my home church.

    As to the good Samaritan parable I think nothing could be further from the truth. I hope (and suspect) that any moderator would go and help the man injured by robbers. However, I feel that the conservatives would pay the innkeeper etc. maybe invite the injured man to church some time and leave it at that. The liberals would be more inclined to ring BBC or UTV to tell them what an important job they had done helping this man: indeed somethimes I feel they would have rung BBC or UTV and then awaited their arrival before helping the injured man so that they could gain as much kudos as possible.

    Matthew 6:1 comes to mind:
    “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.”

  • Ceist

    I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Dr Hamilton a few times now and he’s always struck me as a thoroughly decent man with well thought out views on Shared Future/CSI, Girdwood etc.

  • Turgon

    Ceist,
    And the consistency of the following:
    1). Refusing to meet or shake hands with a spiritual leader due (Hamilton claims) to that leader’s inadequate actions in investigating child abuse.

    2). Being happy to meet and shake hands with what practically every Presbyterian (and many, many others) regard as a terrorist leader with blood on his hands who also incidentally was happy to help cover up child abuse?

  • Turgon, I was thinking more of the alleged enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Samaritan wasn’t just being a ‘good neighbour’ he came to the aid of ‘one of them’.

    Labels don’t always provide great fits but I’d have said that liberals were more likely to be found at Corrymeela than conservatives, irrespective of class or creed. The conservatives needed a little more coaxing. I remember on one occasion asking a 6th former if he didn’t see a conflict between being a member of the Young DUP and JCSS, a group loosely modelled on Corrymeela. He said he preferred JCSS because there were girls in it 🙂

    I think John Dunlop was sought out not just because he was AFAIK a member of the PCI Church and Government(?) Committee, he was also prepared to articulate a Presbyterian perspective.

    John Dunlop: “A Precarious Belonging: Presbyterians and the Conflict in Ireland” (1995), a description of Presbyterians in Ireland and how their values and attitudes have underpinned political life in Northern Ireland since its beginning.

    He sounds a bit like Thomas Sinclair, the liberal Unionist who drafted the 1912 Ulster Covenant.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    I agree re the Good Samaritan and that is exactly my point. I think any moderator would have helped someone from “the other side” but some would have tried to gain the media spotlight from it and others would not.

    I remember my own minister: a pretty fundamentalist type you will be unsurprised to hear. When the local chapel was attacked with diesel (and hence did not burn down) there were the usual claims by a few half wits in the area that “the Catholics did it themselves for the insurance.” Our minister said in church that this was utter nonsense and a perverse lie. He then went to see the priest and offered his sympathies. However, he neither wanted joint worship with the Catholic church nor did he seek the media spotlight for his comments.

    Corrymeela is interested in ecumenism and many Presbyterians whilst we respect the Catholic Church and its members also feel that it is a church in grave error; that the mass is not an appropriate service and that we want to avoid joint worship as it in some ways may compromise our beliefs. Indeed Catholics would also have to compromise some of their beliefs and they should not need to do so: hence, I for one have no interest in ecumenical worship.

    John Dunlop is a man about whom I know quite a bit and indeed I have had dealings with. I was only in my early 20s at the time but I found him extremely condescending and arrogant. His book is not up to much either.

  • cushyglenn

    I wrote to Rev Hamilton after the Bloody Sunday families meeting, and was pleasantly surprised to receive a courteous and robust defence of hid actions. I was concerned that he – and others- were being used by the media to portray an agenda in which the Unionist community was apologising for something that they had no responsibility for
    While his willingness to debate is admirable, his logic was non existent. Being nice to everyone is not actually Christianity, and particularly following a pernicious agenda from the CRC and its fellow travellers is pointless. No friends /converts are gained, and church members are alienated.
    The Adams stunt was perverse, crass, and undeniably political(as opposed to religious) but of significance was the presence of the Clerk of Presbytery there. This means Hamilton was not acting on his own, but with the authority of his church. Well not with mine he wasn’t. And the loose confederation of the church devolves too much power to self appointing committees like the Church and Government committee
    The church has a duty to meet the bad people as well as the good, of course. But not in a political context. It would help if he – or any Moderator- met people like FAIR, or other victims’ groups to recognise the hurt of their congregations. Does the church even know how many Presbyterians were killed or injured in our recent conflict? I’d bet a large amount that it doesn’t – except as a good Blackmouth I don’t bet! What does that say about its priorities? Keep filling the collection plate and keep your heads down!
    Perhaps a day of prayer (remember that- it’s when you talk to God?) for forgiveness of the sins carried out in all our names might be of more benefit for Gerry

  • granni trixie

    FJH: point of informtion – you are referring to the ‘old’ Donald Gillies as I think he had a change of heart. I remember (in the 80s?) seeing him at a mass in the Catholic church on the Falls Rd. with Fr Murphy. My memory may mislead me but I think it was on the occasion of the funeral of a man killed in a particularly terrible troubles murder (Mr Joe Donegan from the Whiterock). Like yourself I imagine, I knew of Gillies as the epitomy of anti-catholicism. So it gave me hope for change when I saw him there (and others who knew told me he had changed, build up a friendship with Fr Murphy). I have several pamplets by Gillies (my archive again) which demonstrate this journey.
    He could be dead by now.

  • 241934 john brennan

    The historic theme of unity between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter is common to genuine Republicanism and Presbyterianism.

    Of course that presently excludes Sinn Fein and a large section of the DUP, whose joint current policy is ‘separate but equal’. That encourages perpetuation of ‘in your face’ divisions, peace walls, flag waving, parades etc.

    Apart from propping each other up in a permanent standstill/standoff, designed to stop all political movement towards a shared society, this mock hostility is good posture for promoting political tribalism and consolidating sectarian votes within the two camps.

    SF/DUP gets votes – and votes legitimize everything. Individuals get hurt, but so what?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Nevin,
    Thank you for amending your earlier statement that the AOH in Kilkeel walked where they were not wanted.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Granni Trixie,
    I do not doubt that Rev Donald Gillies was a decent man. Its not for me to say otherwise…he was certainly on the conservative side of Presbyterianism.
    The funeral you are referring to was Joe Donegan who lived in (I think) Beechview Park. My father in law was a friend as was my father. The three of us attended the funeral together which was about a month before I got married (1982).
    I cant specifically recall that Rev Gillies attended but Im sure that youre right. The savage killing took place in his area and Im sure he was as apalled as anyone.

  • granni trixie

    Hope I’m not being picky but what you say does not convey what I know to be the case.Donald Gillies used to be well know for being anti catholic and would not have been seen dead in a Catholic church. This lends significance to his attendance at that funeral. Also, is Beechview Pk not around Beechmount? For I know that Mr Donegan lived in a street to the right just off Whiterock hill (l visited to pay my respects).

    BTW,as before, never know if the specific facts as to your own identity are red herrings.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Beechview Park runs from the Falls Road to Brittons Parade. Built around 1961 my uncle was one of the first residents. It was not possible to drive from end to the other because it was on a hill and rough rocky ground.
    Perhaps its chief claim to fame is that Georges shop was at the Falls Road corner (predating Tesco 24 hour shopping if you ever needed a pint of milk at 4am).
    So it was divided into a top half and bottom half. If you wanted to travel from bottom half to top half you had to go onto Falls Road..turn up the Whiterock go past what was MacRory Park GAA ground (Brits took it over in 1970s) go down Brittons Parade towards St Peters School and down Beechview Park (top half).
    The street youre referring to is Brittons Parade and you could be right about Mr Donegan living there. I have a definite recollection of my father, father-in-law and myself getting a wee cup of tea in my uncles house.

    As Ive said I have no recollection of Rev Gillies being there but Im sure youre right. I supose its the same thing as when Trimble and Dennis Rogan attended Church in Buncrana for an Omagh victim. Some things are just so awful that it makes non attendance in a Catholic Church seem unimportant.

    I dont know what you mean about specific facts about my own identity and red herrings. I have no profile …and I dont think Ive ever had a public profile in the sense of being a “player” in politics.
    Theres no red herring.
    Brought up in Lower Falls.
    Lived for a while in Upper Springfield.
    Lived for a while in Co Tyrone.
    Married 1982. Live outside Belfast.
    No great mystery.

  • fjh, you seem to have misunderstood. The Parades Commission placed restrictions but it ‘allowed the Ancient Order of Hibernian parade to go past a memorial and Mourne Presbyterian Church, where seven Troubles victims are buried’ despite local objections.

  • Turgon, there was a short act of worship at Corrymeela each day, morning and evening. It was open to anyone who wanted to attend but AFAIK occasional services of Communion/Mass were limited to Sundays. Ray Davey promoted Corrymeela as an ‘Open Village’ and volunteers and others have provided a lot of encouragement and support to those who’ve passed through its doors. Our young JCSS folks lent a hand by organising concerts and helping out in other ways.

    I think the portrayal of some clerics as media chasers is well wide of the mark; I can see why politicians would court the media. Your description of John Dunlop, whom I met at Corrymeela, isn’t one I recognise. ‘Dealings’ sounds antagonistic.

  • granni trixie

    I think that you are wrong FJH. Rev Gillies seems to be a case of genuinely seeing the light. And whilst Trimble I’m sure was moved by Omagh, in general I saw no sign that he had insights which reformed his attitude.

    I still doubt your identity details – looks very like the sort of list I draw up for a creative writing exercise. Who knows (but you).

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont really have an opinion on Rev Donald Gillies. Im sure there are many decent Presbyterian conservatives…..or the “epitome of Scottish sabatarian narrowness” as I called him” does not make him a bad person.
    I totally agree on Trimble.. a phoney.
    Hard night fighting with Ecumenists tonight. The recognisably Alliance folks were missing tonight (pre-arranged committment)

    Creative Writing Exercise? Or the Alliance Party Election Manifesto as it is known. 😉

  • slappymcgroundout

    Perhaps, Turgon, if you read the Irish Times [9 June 2010]:

    “THERE IS a problem with sectarianism right across much of Northern Ireland “and it is acute in what might be seen as some very surprising places”, the new Presbyterian Moderator, Rev Norman Hamilton, has said.

    “The failure to agree a community relations agenda and community relations strategy is, in my view, a public disgrace, given our history. That disgrace is heightened by the apparent failure of much of wider society to even be concerned about it, never mind outraged by it,” he said.

    Mr Hamilton was speaking in his inaugural address to the Presbyterian General Assembly in Belfast, which continues until tomorrow. His comments have been welcomed by Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who said: “I have long argued that sectarianism is the single greatest threat facing society in the North today, and it is imperative that political, church and community leaders take a decisive stand against it.”

    In his address, Mr Hamilton noted latest figures from the PSNI which showed that in 10 of the 25 District Council areas outside Belfast, there had been a rise of over 25 per cent in sectarian-motivated incidents between 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. In only two of those councils had there been a reduction of more than 25 per cent.

    “Our apparent contentment with widespread social apartheid is, to quote again those words from the Book of Proverbs, a disgrace to the nation,” he said.”

    Now go forward to 18 November 2010 [Andersonstown News]:

    “WEST Belfast MP Gerry Adams has said he is happy to meet with Minister for Culture Nelson McCausland after the North Belfast representative called for more to be done for the people of the Shankill.

    Mr McCausland was speaking during a radio discussion about the UVF stranglehold on the Shankill Road area that was the subject of a recent BBC Spotlight report.

    Responding to claims made by Presbyterian Moderator Norman Hamilton that there had been a lack of political and civic leadership in places like the Shankill for years, the Culture Minister called for “an agreed vision” on the Shankill area with “solid commitment from the relevant departments to deliver that vision”.

    Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams – who is MP for the area – said he welcomed Mr McCausland’s comments.

    “As MP for West Belfast I have always sought to represent all the people of this constituency, including the people of the Shankill,” said Mr Adams.

    “While there may be disagreements on constitutional matters, the disadvantage suffered by citizens on the Shankill is the same as that endured by the people of the Falls, Ballymurphy and other parts of this constituency. This is not least because of unionist misrule and the abandonment of working class loyalist communities by the main unionist parties.

    “Working people on the Falls and the Shankill have more in common with each other than with the unionist political elites and I have always maintained that our economic destiny is intertwined,” he added.”

    So, we had a meeting. And it wasn’t the first:

    “The two leaders have met before on several occasions to discuss community issues in relation to Mr Adams’ role as the MP for West Belfast…”

    See that part about Gerry’s role? What do you want the man to do, pretend that Gerry isn’t the MP for West Belfast?

    Now, for some compare and contrast, the piece on this in the Bel Tel had comments re, when is the Orange Order fellow going to meet with certain others. With that in mind, from the Independent [UK][14 July 2009]:

    “Mr Adams said Orange Order leaders should remove their refusal to hold talks with elected Sinn Fein politicians.

    “My biggest frustration is that thus far the Orange Order has contributed nothing to the peace process.

    “The Orange Order still refuses to talk to Sinn Fein… even though Martin McGuinness is the deputy First Minister, even though there are a number of Sinn Fein ministers, even though unlike them we have a mandate which we renew at every election.”

    Yes, some recognize the reality that certain persons represent others while some others live in fantasyland.

    Lastly, so you get the related point, going to Mass says that you don’t necessarily have anything against Catholic worship and Catholics themselves as a general proposition. That being done, not meeting the Pope outside of a church service (Mass) context says that you have a problem with him, personally. The reverend minister can otherwise meet with local members of the Catholic Church to discuss NI specific issues.

    Almost forgot, but I suppose that the healing will continue in your absence. In other words, the war’s over, start acting like it. In the meantime, another meeting was recently had:

    http://tinyurl.com/4rb8jmd

  • Turgon

    slappymcgroundout,

    Your failure to understand the whole issue is pretty blatant. Hamilton is not leader of the Presbyterian Church: he is the moderator of the assembly meeting. His interest in anti sectarianism is laudable but as Cushy Glenn and others have pointed out is inefferctual and seems more interested in chasing headlines than in actual progress.

    As to Adams you may be unaware being from the USA but Adams is nolonger a public representative of anywhere: I believe however, he is standing in the RoI.

    During his long tenure as MP for West Belfast he seems to have achieved remarkably little in terms of helping deal with social deprivation or sectarianism. Well actually he increased both with events such as gloryfing an individual who committed the mass murder of Shankill residents with a sectarian bomb attack. If Adams had any interest in reconcillation he might begin by apologising for that and the almost immunerable other sectarian murders he was supportive of (and very likely involved in).

    To come back to the issue of the mass again your lack of understanding is pretty basic. Evangelical Protestants do not like taking part in the mass as they believe that the claim that Christ repeats his sacrifice in the mass is blasphemous and we believe that Christ “did once, when he offered up himself” Hebrews 7:27

    Furthermore evangelical protestants regard transubstantiation as nonsense whereas Catholics regard it as a vital miracle. As such in actual fact non Catholics are not allowed to partake in the mass.

    However, your complete non understanding of the issue is only further demonstrated by the fact that the service Hamilton went to was not a Roman Catholic service: it was essentially a CoE one.

    The reason I raised the issue, however, was centrally because Hamilton claimed that he did not meet nor shake the Pontiff’s hand, not because of theological differences (afterall he might well be willing to meet and shake hands with the Dali Lama) but rather because Hamilton claimed that the Pope had not done enough to deal with child abuse.

    Since it is on record that Gerry Adams did not do enough to protect children from child abuse (and he has admitted such) it is therefore completely inconsistent for Hamilton to be willing to meet and shake hands with Adams.

    The fact that neither you nor anyone else has tried any defence whatsoever of this inconsistency by Hamilton is illustrative of how glaring it is. Instead you go on about “healing will continue without you” which is an utter nonsense: a non argument from someone who knows nothing about the subject. I am fascinated that from your 3,000 or more mile remove (you being an American) you can be so knowledgable about reconcillation here in Northern Ireland. Then again since you understand so little about theology or NI politics yet pontificate on them I suppose it is unsurprising.

  • “The reason I raised the issue, however, was centrally because Hamilton claimed that he did not meet nor shake the Pontiff’s hand, not because of theological differences”

    Turgon, your claim appears to be at odds with Norman Hamilton’s own words:

    The Presbyterian moderator explained why he was declining the invitation to meet the Pope after the service but denied there was any discourtesy involved.

    “From where I stand, to be true to myself, I would want a meeting with the Pope to be substantive rather than a passing few courtesies because there are many things that trouble us over in Ireland so I am wanting to meet the Pope.

    “I am wanting to have a proper engagement with him. I’m simply saying that the context of being presented to his holiness is not enough for us to help resolve some of the issues,” he added.

    Dr Hamilton said he would welcome the opportunity to have a “face to face” meeting with the Pope.

    “I would welcome the opportunity to have a proper meeting with the Pope to sit down with him, man to man and discuss a number of troubling issues,” he said.

    “Some of those would be biblical and theological because we regard the Roman Catholic church as a church in error, others would be pastoral while others would be practical,” he said.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    Maybe he would have prefered a face to face meeting. However, being prepared to attend worship but refusing even to shake the pope’s hand is inconsistent. In addition it is hardly the way of getting a face to face meeting to begin by refusing an opportunity even to say hello and shake hands.

    In addition I detect that Hamilton is being inconsistent even in his explanation of all this. I would suggest that at the time Hamilton was scared of a further blacklash when pictures emerged of him shaking the pope’s hand. Now nearing the end of his moderatorship he seems even more keen on publicity gaining stunts and less concerned about the views of other Presbyterians. On all these issues Hamilton seems illogical, inconsistent and to be honest duplicitous. That inconsistency being demonstarted by the explanation you have quoted from Hamilton which is on the BBC on 17th September and the rather different explanation I have quoted from him 2 days earlier. As I said gross inconsistency which I submit looks duplicitous.

  • 241934 john brennan

    Turgon is right on one point. West Belfast is the most socially deprived and sectarian part of any city in Europe.

    You can’t eat a flag, but here flags are prized above food, slogans on gables before bread on tables.

    In the eye of the human beholder, flags and slogans are signs for marking territory, either unmistakably read as friendly or hostile – like scent marking is for animals.

    Of course waving or flying flags to intimidate or annoy neighbours (And who is my neighbour. Ans: Mankind of all descriptions) is neither Christian, nor patriotic

    Does this mean that West Belfast is also the least Christian and patriotic part of Europe?

  • granni trixie

    I think attitudes within Catholic WB (the bit with which I am familiar) are more complex than “sectarian”. There is definately an anti English sentiment which almost amounts to racism. And put up a donkey in the name of SF and most will vote for it. Insularity is also part of thre equation – you can shop, go to cinema,be educated etc and never move away from the Falls. I found that many young people are afraid to move “off the road” – even to a theatre, just across town. The source of some fears of other are based on fact – some murders have occured when people were picked off along that same road because they are likely Catholics.
    Anti Protestant? Not necessarily in my opinion,infact cross community contact or ecuminism is valued.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Im certainly familiar with West Belfast although I keep hearing new street names/places and I havent a clue where they are. Bring back the familiar “Italian” streets or “Balkan Wars” streets with which Im more familiar.
    Granni Trixie is broadly right. There is a certain anti-English thing…….
    actually Im reminded that Irish people hate England but like the English. English people love Ireland but dont like the English cliché.
    Perhaps thats more accurate. Hate England. Love Manchester United. And thats just me.
    Racist? Moi?
    Some of it is nakedly sectarian. Atually its mostly sectional. Which is exactly how it is on the Shankill Road too.
    Insularity…yes. Shop on the Falls (actually in the 1960s a shop on the Shankill (Sibleys???) did a better trade in Catholic uniforms than the accredited outlets on the Falls), Get your hair cut on the Falls, be educated (very very well). You can even get buried on the road.
    Some fears are well based. Circa 1965, my father used to agonise that I was playing football in Woodvale Park, Victoria Park, Botanic etc. And he would quote incidents from the 1930s.
    Likewis just a year or so ago I was cautioning my sons about walking from East Belfast to the Holy Land.
    But a key factor is that West Belfast is a Catholic/nationalist “ghetto” not a “working class “ghetto”. It is not all Turf Lodge.
    There are surprisingly pleasant parts and upwardly mobile people. There was a time in 1980s perhaps when people (including myself although I would of course deny it) took the exit route to Carryduff or Crumlin or Glenavy.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops the cliche is that Irish people hate England but like the English.
    English people love Ireland but hate the Irish.

  • Duplicitous: “Marked by deliberate deceptiveness especially by pretending one set of feelings and acting under the influence of another”

    Turgon, perhaps it’s little wonder that such language about basically a decent man has left some folks out in the wilderness electorally.

    Peter Robinson: “I was pleased to meet with senior church representatives, especially Rev Hamilton, who has a strong track record of working in socially deprived communities.”

    No doubt some conservatives wouldn’t have the Rev Lesley Carroll about the place. She is the current minister of Fortwilliam and Macrory Presbyterian Church on the Antrim Road, Belfast.

    “the Presbyterian delegation included the Reverend Donald Watts, clerk of its general assembly, and Dr Lesley Carol, convener of the Presbyterian Church and Society Committee, as well as the moderator.”

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    You are avoiding the issue and introducing non relevant arguments.

    You quoted Hamilton explaining his refusal to meet the pope: I also quoted Hamilton explaining his refusal to meet him or shake hands with him. The two explanations are completely different. Having two totally different explanations which are in this case mutually exclusive is actually both inconsistent and duplicitous.

    Hamilton may be nice to people and whatever. However, he has here been duplicitous: I know the definition and used the word very deliberately as is my wont to do.

    I agree with Cushy Glenn above: I have very little time for these autonomous committees of the church which seem to be be almost completely independent, pretend significant influence (though thankfully have little power) and are highly unaccountable. They presume to comment on behalf of the Presbyterian Church whereas their pronouncements seem very far removed from the democratically expressed views of Presbyterians.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I always wonder how Rev Kenneth Newell would have fared in Agnes Street and how REv Donald Gillies would have fared in Fitzwilliam.
    I know …or at least I think I know that….individual churches hire their preacher man but how does that actually work out in practice.
    Do Fitzwilliam look for someone who looks like he might vote Alliance for Assembly and SDLP at Westminster?
    Would another church in deepest North Antrim look out for a TUV or DUP voting man?
    It seems odd….two churches in a coalition or one church.
    If God made us in his image…..and we abuse it by making God in our image…….do the individual Presbyterian churches make a minister in their image.
    Or does the Presbyterian Church just manufacture equal numbers of conservatives and liberals at Theology College?

  • Turgon

    fitzjameshorse1745,
    The overwhelming majority of Presbyterian Churches as far as I know have no interest in a prospective minister’s political views. The occasions I have been involved in when a new minister was being looked for had absolutely no political issues. The vast majority of Presbyterian Churches are evangelical and failry conservative in outlook and will look for a minister who reflects that. They will also be interested in someone who is interested in a style of worship they like (in my experience ministers are more interested in modern worship than their congregations). they may well value youth work etc. etc.

    I am afraid politics would almost certainly not enter into it. It is even a gross simplification: almost to the extent of being a fallacy to suggest that theologically liberal ministers and congregations are necessarily politically liberal.

  • Drumlins Rock

    FJH, the college is usually accused of manufacturing Liberals from Conservatives!, but quite a few still go through unscathed, as for choosing your minister, you can work some stuff out from their background, plus the first stage is a “hearing committee of elders” go to hear him/her speak, then they have an interview if they like what they hear, questions on parades and flags can sort out a few things, but politics would not come into it directly.
    He/she then preaches to the whole congregation and they vote on whether to “issue a call” and hopfully the candidates accepts.

  • Turgon

    DR,
    That is how we last chose our minister but there is also a system where a congregation becomes vacant and any minister can apply. Then there is a hearing and a vote on the candidate(s), if the congregation accepts one then s/he is the minister: we called it the preach off.

  • granni trixie

    I think Rev Harold Good worked in Agnes St. and he tends to take risks. Although a Methodist, his stance makes me wonder if a minister adapts to the situation in which they find themselves eg in the heartlands of the conflict….you cant ignore it as you might in say Holywood.

    BTW, I actually remember the subject of this post (NH) saying at the time he started off (Finaghy Lowe?) that he considered that his garb (eg cardis with hood) was the subject of disapproval by congregation. A foretaste of what was to come?

  • Turgon, I state my own positions; I’m not impressed by your speculation about media chasing especially when religious conservatives like Ian Paisley had nothing to learn about grabbing the media spotlight.

    A clerical friend of mine, an OO member, who would be considered a PCI conservative came under from pressure from both sides: one elder wanted to ‘validate’ the sermons prior to delivery and a committee member confronted him for his role in IIRC an OO protest.

    Apart from the evangelicals and the liberals there’s a broad swathe of opinion in between. The evangelicals tend to be more assertive and believe that it’s their way or no way; a group of them is bad news for any congregation.

  • DR and Turgon, I’ve not heard of the term ‘preach off’ but I recognise the context. If, say, there are two strong candidates this can easily lead to difficulties for the incoming minister so efforts can be made to make the call/invitation unanimous.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    I see you have introduced more red herrings and seem to have given up trying to argue that Hamilton was anything other than inconsistent and I contend duplicitous.

    As to the evangelicals vs liberals I do agree to a significant extent. Much / most of the church would be essentially liberal evangelical in religious terms. I might well be closer to the median than you think.

    Incidentally I agree on Dr. Paisley: I have very little time for his media chasing: indeed it is very similar (though enacted differently) to that of the likes of his arch foe John Dunlop.

  • GT, Norman Hamilton was an assistant in Lowe Memorial in Finaghy.

    I first met Harold Good in the 1970s when he was the Centre Director at Corrymeela in Ballycastle. He was born in Derry.

  • Turgon, my little herrings are hidden by your big red herring; media chasing 🙂

  • Did Ken Newell realise he was in the midst of a Redemptorist double-hander or did it not trouble him? The Redemptorists presented a liberal image through the Clonard-Fitzroy Fellowship whilst they were developing the Stepping Stones ‘Brits-out’ political strategy.

  • Turgon, I see you’ve used the term liberal evangelical whereas I consider the evangelical label as a suitable description for the Braid Valley Born Again set.

  • Turgon

    Nevin,
    It is going off topic but I think the essential point which you touched on is the fact that Presbyterianism even in its mainstream variety is extremely variable.
    Since we believe so passionately in the Priesthood of all Believers clearly everyone must make his or her own decisions in light of prayerful analysis of the Word of God. That often means that people are not easy to pigeonhole.

    Liberals of the political and ecumenical variety are a small minority; however, they are unduly represented on the media etc. and in my view chase the media excessively.

    The ultra fundamentalists are also a minority. I would suggest most practising Presbyterians believe in the Truth of the Bible, the need of personal salvation and the importance of trying to live a life in keeping with God’s Laws; that still leaves a lot of room for difference.

    I have very little time for the Liberals media chasing and I note that frequently they are highly inconsistent in their positions and both disingenuous and even duplicitous: conservatives can be as well. I object to that in liberals and conservatives. It seems that some will complain bitterly about conservatives being inconsistent but are much less exercised by liberals doing the same thing.

    I would point out in my defence that I said just as nasty things about the last moderator.

  • Turgon, I think the media are more likely to seek out the clergy depending on the angle they wish to portray, often controversial. Then there’s the editorial problem. That’s why some folks will only speak live; they just don’t trust the editorial team to get the nuance right.

    Ray Davey would probably be placed in the ecumenical wing yet I fail to see how he could be portrayed as ungodly.

    I should imagine an examination of all of our denominations would probably find much the same wide range of views.

  • slappymcgroundout

    Turgon:

    (1) Reconciliation is a human endeavor, it is not limited to NI.

    (2) Being an outsider might otherwise be of help, since I am not polluted by any of your NI sectarian hatred.

    (3) To equate Gerry and the Pope in terms of their moral responsibility for child abuse is simply pathetic. Gerry’s brother allegedly molested his own child. A universe away from the faithful entrusting their child(ren) to priests who turn out to have a sexual fondness for children. And as far as we know, Gerry’s brother molested but the one child. The upper echelon of the RCC, to include the current Pope, presided over mass child sexual abuse and covered it up al the while. At least Gerry, and this is not disputed, told the victim and her mother to inform the responsible police authority, which they did. More on what happened, or failed to happen, after that, in a bit.

    (4) Your Christianity is not a Christianity that I recognize. The fact that you and some others here lay all this blame on Gerry but never raise the matter of why your law enforcement and child protective services did nothing whatsoever to aid the alleged victim speaks volumes about your faith and morals.

    You would otherwise do well to understand the notion of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not given because it is deserved but given because it is needed. And so without any remorse or regret or repentance being expressed, the Lord you claim to serve said in relation to those responsible for killing and mocking him: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

    The reason he said that is simply because Numbers 15 makes plain that there is no sacrificial expiation for intentional sin, so not only did your Lord ask for them to be forgiven, but in saying that they “know not what they do” he opened the door for their sin to be sacrificially expiated by his very own sacrifice (as “know not what they do” renders their sin unintentional). For comparison purposes, read Leviticus 4 and Numbers 15.

    You might try wrapping your mind around that one, as you clearly haven’t to date. Maybe one day, you too can say re Gerry, Father, forgive him, for he knows not what he did. In the meantime, what with the word in the good book being, take up your cross and follow me, which includes forgiving the others while we too are nailed to the cross, please kindly refrain from speaking about just who here knows the theology. Thanks.

    (5) The Church of England does have Mass, well, at least some of them do. And the Church of England has these folks within the Church as well:

    http://anglicanhistory.org/england/cps/black.html

    So there is an Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church of England that believes in transubstantiation. Sorry that you are one of the 10% who didn’t get the word.

    Lastly, re the nature of the Eucharist, please spare me the absurd claim of my not knowing theology. Calvin and Zwingli certainly didn’t and since you are their spiritual heir… They and your church miss entirely the point of the separation. There is simply no point in separating body from blood unless sacrificial immolation is the concern. In other words, the double consecretation, bread = body and wine = blood, = immolation with Christ as victim.

    And please read verse 25, two verses before the one you cited. Intercedes for us always. How does that he do that for you, when you say was only once and so now he sits there bored out of his mind with nothing more to offer? Here, the best way that I can put the sane and wholly biblical view:

    In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the SAME offering and sacrifice that is ETERNALLY pleaded in Heaven outside of time and unveiled is shown to us in time under the veils of bread and wine. It is through the Eucharist that WE are made present at this unique offering made “once for all”.

    For one more, on how ridiculous is the objection, the Last Supper was the other side, as it were, of what we do know. At the Last Supper, he pre-presented the sacrifice. We now post-present the same sacrifice. As he said we should do. And the priest says, at the appropriate moment:

    Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.

    I’ll let you figure out what “living sacrifice” means, since that would seem to be an oxymoron. In the meantime, here’s the comment to Hebrews 7:25 in a version of the New American Bible, translated and commented on by good Protestants like you:

    To make intercession: the intercession of the exalted Jesus, not the sequel to his completed sacrifice but its eternal presence in heaven.

    See the word, sequel? Linear time. But yet as they admit, eternally present in heaven. Maybe the heretics will one day understand that the Eternal is outside of linear time. Their singular failure to appreciate that reality explains why they botch this, why they botch predestination, and so on.

    And here’s how we know that it is sacrificial:

    “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle (Jews) have no right to eat”

    “Altar” is the Koine Greek, thusiasterion, and clearly contemplates a sacrifice, matter of fact, thusiasterion is the PLACE of sacrifice. And he is talking about the Eucharist, since what else does one eat that comes from the altar that can be called a sacrifice. Your fellows heretics responsible for the NAB report here:

    We have an altar: this does not refer to the Eucharist, which is never clearly mentioned in Hebrews, but to the sacrifice of Christ.

    Our heretic friends responsible for the NAB notes completely ignore the word, “eat”. What else do we eat other than the Eucharist? And a sacrifice is a thing and not a place. So it is cleary referring to the Eucharist that is on the altar. Paul himself to the Church of God at Corinth:

    Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar (thusiasterion)?

    That is exactly what the author of Hebrews is writing of at Hebrews 13:10. And, again, note that the sacrifice and the place are not the same thing. And when do we eat of the sacrifice of the altar? When we consume the Eucharist? You might tell your heretic friends to not let presupposition blind them to the blindingly obvious (which is why the Koine Greek for eucharist doesn’t appear as it blindingly obvious what is being referenced). The Koine Greek word and its defintion are:

    thusiasterion (thoo-see-as-tay’-ree-on): a place of sacrifice, i.e. an altar

    So for our friends on the NAB commentary committee, if the word refers to a place of sacrifice hard to claim that sacrifice isn’t in mind, and since we are eating the sacrifice, hard to claim that the sacrifice isn’t the Eucharist as that is all we eat that can be called sacrificial. And the Jews have no right to partake as they don’t confess Jesus as Lord, i.e., in short, they deny the efficacy of the sacrifice.

    Truly lastly, for how little some know, the Koine Greek, eucharistia, subs in for the Hebrew, todah, meaning, thanksgiving sacrifice. And a sacrifice is always offered to God.

    Sorry, I lied, and so one more:

    “Consequently, the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is not merely a meal, but that it is also the one true sacrifice of Christ, re-presented throughout the ages. Martin Luther and subsequent Protestant leaders rejected the sacrificial aspect of the Eucharist. Citing Hebrews 10:10, the Protestants held that Christ died “once for all.” They could not perceive how every single Eucharistic celebration could also be that same sacrifice of Christ offered “once for all.” It seemed to them that the Catholic Church taught that Christ was repeatedly slain and sacrificed over and over upon every altar of the Catholic Church. If this were true, it would have indeed been a grave error. However, the Catholic Church, in agreement with the Epistle to the Hebrews, does not teach that Christ dies repeatedly on the altar. Rather, the Church agrees that Christ died “once for all”—once for all time. Christ died once but the application of this sacrifice is for all time and for all people. Christ does not die again but the single offering of His Body and Blood on the cross is re-presented in the Eucharistic sacrifice and applied to those who receive Holy Communion.
    ***
    It is indeed odd that Protestants deny that the “Lord’s table” is an “altar” since Paul so clearly identifies the “table of the Lord” with an “altar” in this passage [1 Cor 10:18-21]. This antagonism to “Christian altars” is especially unwarranted when we consider that the Epistle to the Hebrews explicitly states that the Church of Jesus Christ worships at an altar from which we eat and drink the sacrifice of Christ:

    We have an altar from which those who serve the tent [i.e. the Old Testament tabernacle] have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood (Heb 13:10-13).

    This passage in Hebrews indicates that Christians possess an altar that corresponds to the altar of Jewish tabernacle in Jerusalem. Whereas the Jewish people sacrificed the body and blood of bulls and goats on that altar, Christians have an altar from which even the Jewish priests “have no right to eat.” The sacrifice which the Christians eat is “Jesus who suffered” and who sanctified “the people through his own blood.”

    The passage no doubt refers to the Christian Eucharist of which Christians have a right to eat as partakers of Christ. If we peal back the English translation of Hebrews 13:10-13 we see that the Greek word for altar is thusiasterion. This word is a compound of the Greek word thusia (“sacrifice”) and sterion (“fixed place”). To render it literally, Hebrews 13:10 reads: “We have a fixed place of sacrifice.” The concept of Eucharistic sacrifice is built in to the very word for altar as a place of sacrifice.”

    So, Turgon, tell your fellow to wrap their minds around that as well.

    By the way, Luther also believed in witches, not of the Pippakin kind, but the other kind who ride on broomsticks and can turn into animals (strange that he rejected transubstantiation yet believed that Pippakin could turn herself into a wolf). He was wrong on both counts.

  • Turgon

    slappymcgroundout ,
    So you have given up trying to explain the inconsistentcy of Hamilton refusing to meet or shake hands with the Pontif on the grounds that he was inadequately proactive over child abuse and yet was willing to meet Adams.

    Oh yes apart from claiming that the Pope is more guilty than Gerry Adams: truly an amazing proposition.

    You have also failed to explain why it is not inconsistent to attend a religious service yet refuse to shake hands. As I said one could meet and greet the Dali Lama without agreeing with Tibetan Buddism and legitimately refuse to attend a service of worship with him.

    Instead you have embarked on a long winded and pointless essay of no relevance. With every one of your pointless missives you simply demonstrate that you know nothing about the subject at hand and precious little about NMorthern Ireland. That said lack of knowledge has not prevented you from pontificating about mutliple other issues so I suppose I will show forebareance and leave you to your irrelevant and inaccurate diatribes.

  • Neil

    I fail to see what folk like Turgon would suggest Gerry Adams do, with regards to his brother. Surely the outspoken Christian isn’t suggesting Gerry break out a short and shoot his brother – that would be damnably un Christian.

    So what should he have done? Informed the authorities? The victim was advised to do that very thing. So what should Gerry have done Turgon, seriously? It’s the job of the police, of whom I gather you’re a bit of a fan (especially given it was the whiter than white RUC at that time).

    So what did the police do? Try to recruit the victim of a rape – a child – as an informer and failing that just ignore the complaint. Anything to say about that? Nope, better to damn Gerry for not doing enough, without suggesting what more he could possibly have done. He couldn’t arrest him (not being a member of the >95% Loyalist RUC), and I’m sure a good God fearing Protestant wouldn’t suggest shooting or beating him, so what more could he have done?

    What more could the cops have done? Plenty, but better to attack Gerry for a couple of reasons, first you hate him passionately (more of that inconsistent Christian behaviour there), second who cares if one of the clan Adams, a child, was denied justice in an attempt to recruit a useful informer – child misery is worth the possibility of getting one over on your hated enemy, and finally, the RUC were just the best bunch of guys so we wouldn’t want to complain about our good Loyalist police force not carrying out their duty.

    Better to attack Gerry for, um, well, not doing something other than handing the matter to the police – the body tasked with dealing with rapes.

    Finally for your love of inconsistincy – first you have the whole TUV, principled Loyalist, not an inch crowd that you seem to like, and the support of one of your TUVite chums for Torrence Knight, that good ole boy who’s actually a pretty decent murdering, woman beater. How does that square with your ‘Christian’ principles?

    And you mention that you have no time for ‘media chasing’ and admit that Ian Senior was a champoin at it, practically all he did really. Now remind me again who you supported politically prior to your jump over to the ‘princlipled’ TUV?

    All very inconsistent Turgon, all a bit unchristian I reckon.

  • Turgon

    Neil,
    Adams set up a meeting between abuser and the abused: totally inappropriate
    Adams did nothing about his brother applying to work with children in the RoI

    Adams lied about not seeing his brother for years. Adams almost certainly lied about telling people at Clonard about his brother.

    My issue was not, however what Adams should have done (though your loyalty to him is touching) it was that the specific reason Hamilton refused to meet and shake hands with the Pope was that the Pope had not been proactive enough over child abuse. Adams by his own admission was not proactive enough over abuse: yet Hamilton met and shook hands with him. In this case it is not really Adams who is the target of my accusations of inconsistency but Hamilton. The fact that inadequate action over child abuse is amongst the less serious accusations made against Adams is merely additional evidence of Hamilton’s double standards.

    As to Torrens Knight I have repeatedly condemned him and indeed the man who support him for his actions.

  • Alf

    Ah what could Uncle Gerry have done? Apart from ensuring that his brother was not shuffled from one youth club to another. Perhaps a better question might be what should he not have done?

    Perhaps he shouldn’t have lied about cutting off all contact with his brother when in fact he had attended his wedding and went on the campaign trail in Louth with him.

  • Neil

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/8424502.stm

    Adams set up a meeting between abuser and the abused: totally inappropriate

    However not hard to understand. God forbid, one of my nieces told me something similar about my brother, I wouldn’t be particularly rational and I would seek to verify that something was up. As Gerry said this “could have been handled better”. Understandable though given the allegations involved.

    Adams did nothing about his brother applying to work with children in the RoI. Adams lied about not seeing his brother for years. Adams almost certainly lied about telling people at Clonard about his brother.

    Following the timeline on the BBC, first he worked in belfast:

    Liam Adams works part-time as a youth worker in Clonard Youth Centre in west Belfast, having passed a full police check.

    Hmm. So the police were told, but nothing came back from the CRB check. How curious. We then know that he worked with young offendors (male) from 16 – 22 in Dundalk. If a background check was carried out, nothing came of it, presumably down to the RUC’s lack of action.

    But no mention of Gerry beating a path to Dundalk to tell the youth project that Liam was a allegedly an abuser – though legally he wouldn’t have the right to do that as Liam was and has never been convicted of anything.

    Then Clonard:

    It has said that his name and details were submitted to the “relevant authorities, who signed off on his suitability to work with children.”

    A spokesperson added that it believed social services and the police have “serious questions” to answer about the checks carried out on Liam Adams.

    “We have never received any complaint from any child, young person or their parent, or staff member, with respect to Liam Adams and his period of employment here within our project. Nevertheless, we feel that serious lapses by both the social services and the police have inexcusably put children and young people within our project at risk.”

    So again, a background check was carried out, again nothing came back. What should Gerry have done here, given that one can’t go around definitively accusing people of crimes for which they haven’t been convicted?

    Broken into a police station, hacked into network, and added a criminal record against his brother’s name?

    But then again the cops could have just done their job and Liam would’ve been rejected from working with any kids, anywhere.

    Gerry Adams says Liam should hand himself over to the authorities to answer allegations of sexual abuse. It is understood that an arrest warrant was issued a year ago for failing to appear at a preliminary court hearing to answer questions about alleged sexual offences against his daughter.

    So, a mere 26 years later, 22 years after the initial complaint the police decide to act. After Gerry, for the second time, involves himself in what is a matter for the police.

    I don’t think Gerry’s ‘inaction’ over the alleged abuse of his neice is reason to criticise Hamilton. Firmer ground I reckon would have been your second accusation regarding other allegations that have floated around regarding Gerry.

    Finally I’d ask, what use is a peacemaker that won’t speak to anyone other than their own moral equivalent? Given that the man is a minister, there are few moral equivalents to him that have the need for the attention of a peacemaker. It’s the nature of the situation that these men can only do real good if they’re prepared to deal with people like Gerry, Martin and their opposites on the other side of the fence. In My opnion.

  • Alf

    For a man who was allegedly chief of staff of one of the most ruthless terrorist organisations in Europe Uncle Gerry appears to have been remarkably impotent.

    Why was he beating a path to Dundalk to warn people that his brother was wrong ‘un one day and then beating a path to Dundalk to go canvassing with him on another?

  • Turgon, you and Pete seem to have some obsession about consistency; you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut.