Church of Ireland leaders want Troubles report revisited

Archbishop says he feels that ‘sooner or later we are going to have to go back to the Eames-Bradley approach’

Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke said: “There was one part of it that was rubbished comprehensively [but] it meant people didn’t look at the rest. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke said: “There was one part of it that was rubbished comprehensively [but] it meant people didn’t look at the rest. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Fri, May 9, 2014, 01:00


The two Church of Ireland archbishops have called for all relevant parties to revisit the 2009 Eames-Bradley report on addressing the past in Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

The Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke said yesterday that his “very strong feeling is that sooner or later we are going to have to go back to the Eames-Bradley approach in looking at the past”.

At a press conference during the Church of Ireland general synod, which began in Dublin yesterday, he said: “There was one part of it that was rubbished comprehensively [but] it meant people didn’t look at the rest. There’s something there. We all need to dust it down again.”

He said, “Somehow what we’ve got to do is see . . . what Eames-Bradley tried to do . . . is to say that the task of legacy and reconciliation don’t necessarily have to mesh in together. You almost have to approach them as kind of separate issues, given a very firm timescale, and you bring in an outsider to try and do it.”


Payment to victims
The report by former Church of Ireland primate archbishop Lord Robin Eames and former vice-chairman of the North’s police board Denis Bradley fell due to outrage over their proposal that a £12,000 payment be made to families of victims of the conflict.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson said yesterday: “We need to revisit Eames-Bradley.” He suggested “the difficulty with the part where there was a monetary value was that it seemed to put a price on people’s suffering. I doubt that was the intention but that was how it was received.”

He said he found it “alarming” that when Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was detained at Antrim PSNI station last week people began ask whether it would destabilise the peace process. It “ really points us in the direction that there are things that are under-addressed or not addressed at all,” he said.

Archbishop Clarke said his sense of Northern Ireland “is that the equilibrium that is being built into the political machinery, and done so with very, very good intentions, has actually meant that we’re never going to get equanimity because you’re never going to get a common mind as long as you structure something that has got to have an equilibrium”.

He recalled a comment by Northern Secretary Teresa Villiers recently at a meeting with church leaders in Belfast, “that one of the things that Stormont lacks is a viable opposition because it’s been built-in without political opposition”. He felt “this is really what causes the paralysis. You need an opposition to push you in certain directions”.


Continuing paralysis
He said “until we address the past systematically we’re still going to find that the past, perspectives on the past, analysis of the past, are mutually exclusive. Until we find some way through there I can’t see what would stop the paralysis from continuing.”

Archbishop Clarke also spoke enthusiastically about an ecumenical initiative to encourage Christians of all denominations in Ireland to give blood and to offer their organs for donation after death, based on the UK Flesh and Blood campaign. He said he would be saying to Christian: “Don’t be squeamish. Even in death your body could be used as gift.”

He had spoken to the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady about it and he “certainly has given the nod that he would be quite keen for it”. The Methodist president Rev Heather Morris was going to push it “quite hard” at their annual conference in June, he said.