Archbishop Harper: “…personal attacks on members of the CGP team benefit no one”

Interesting intervention from Alan Harper, the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh who takes the Church of Ireland Gazette to task for its editorial criticism of the Eames Bradley report. The Archbishop’s statement is as follows:

I wish to disassociate myself entirely from the sentiments expressed in the most recent Editorial of the Church of Ireland Gazette in respect of the Revd Dr Lesley Carroll and Mr Denis Bradley.

The Gazette enjoys complete editorial freedom, but with freedom comes responsibility. The Gazette also claims the name of the Church of Ireland: therefore the Church has a right to expect that opinions offered under a Church of Ireland masthead shall be expressed responsibly and respectfully, especially when referring to named individuals.

The personal slight on Dr Carroll and Mr Bradley was gratuitous. I regret that such discourtesy has become associated with the Church of Ireland and apologise to them for it. They are honourable and highly respected people with many friends throughout Ireland and indeed the Church of Ireland.

The report of the Consultative Group on the Past, which featured in the discussion on BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence programme on Sunday 12 June, whether subsequently side-lined or rejected, was a brave and principled attempt by courageous people, including its co-chair, Lord Eames, to provide a foundation for the way in which society in Ireland might begin to address one of the most significant and difficult issues of our time: that of dealing with the painful legacy of the past.

The report divided opinion and it has not been followed by substantive action, but personal attacks on members of the CGP team benefit no one.

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  • pippakin

    The Anglican Bishop of Armagh needs to reflect long and hard on exactly who and what it is he represents.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I wish to disassociate myself entirely from the sentiments expressed by the most recent Primate of the Church of Ireland in respect of the criticism of Revd Dr Lesley Carroll and Mr Denis Bradley.

    The recent editorial of the Gazette that stated both former CGP members came across on the radio programme as spoilt children who had not got their way was fair comment and accurate in my opinion.

    Press freedom should exist in the Church of Ireland Gazette as well as anywhere else, stick to your guns editor and don’t let them bully you!

  • qwerty12345

    Well, in his view he represents Christ and I imagine what he is trying to support is a civility which doesnt wish well intentioned people to be described as “spoilt children” in a church publication.

  • Fair Deal

    I hadn’t read the editorial before reading the Archbishop’s response and was expecting a much more brutal affair than the editorial proved to be. It would appear that NI ecclesiastical equivalent of theatrical ‘luvvies’ are incredibly thin-skinned and can’t deal with criticism.

  • Independent Ulster

    “Both former CGP members came across on the programme rather as spoilt children who had not got their way”

    As qwerty12345 states it is the wording in the extract above that has given the Archbishop the opportunity to direct his fire at the editorial and to ‘disassociate myself entirely from the sentiments’.

    Tactically, it may have been a mistake by the Gazette to personalise the attack on the Eames Bradley report but at least within the Unionist community the ‘sentiments’ in the editiorial, that it is totally disredited and without any merit, will have been enthusiastically welcomed.

  • Theres probably an element of the “personal” involved or perceived to be involved. The current Archbishop is probably on first name terms with the person who wrote the editorial…….Lesley Carroll, the Editor, the Archbishops know each other.
    This is after all not a widely read journal outside inner Church of Ireland circles. And is used to test the waters and for jockeying for position..
    In Church terms the language wasa little person and Archbishop Harpur possibly feels a little concerned that the Media picked up on an obscure editorial or was tipped off to take notice of it.
    I think he also felt duty-bound to race to the rescue of the former Archbishop who has been the subject of a lot of vitriol because he read the public mood so badly.
    I would suggest that whatever re-vamp the Truth Commission is given….and frankly we have seen a media blitz all week and a charm offensive by many of the usual suspects…..the current Archbishop would surely know what is going on behind the scenes.
    Unfortuneately outside the closed golden halo, the rest of the population will only be told when our betters have worked it all out for us.

  • Independent Ulster


    As someone who thinks the French Revolution and the American and English civil wars (from other Blog about ‘nice’ Nationalists) are beneficial in any understanding of the PIRA terrorist campaign I’m suprised you are not a keen enthusiast for an Eames Bradley Truth Commission style approach to understanding the past?

  • Mr Crumlin

    Well said Archbishop.

    Ian Ellis has an axe to grind and good to see this reply to his silly editorial.

    When Eames Bradley were doing their work, I went to hear a speech by Dennis Bradley in Queens – he spoke so much common sense I wish I could have bottled it. I managed to get a few words with him after – anyone who doubts his ability and sincerity should spend a few minutes in his company.