Kevin Lunney attack: People need to work to prevent barbarism, says Archbishop

The North’s political impasse has gone on too long, says leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland Eamon Martin


The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said the “brutal beating” of Kevin Lunney should drive people to work together and “prevent a culture of barbarism and death from taking root and poisoning our land”.

A director of building products manufacturer Quinn Industrial Holdings, the 50-year-old father of six was kidnapped and badly beaten on the evening of September 17th after being abducted from outside his home in Co Fermanagh.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, who was addressing a prayer service in Drogheda on Sunday, also criticised “ongoing violent fueds between criminal gangs”. The first fatality in an ongoing gangland feud in Drogheda occurred this summer, when Keith Branigan was shot dead in August.

During the service, Dr Martin also strongly criticised threats to democracy. “As Brexit looms, it seems at times that politics is descending into a dangerous factionalism which does nothing to solve the social and economic uncertainty of these days but only serves to erode the integrity of parliamentary democracy.”

As evidence of the impact of such threats, he pointed to new laws passed in Westminster in July which will decriminalise abortion in the North unless devolved government in Stormont is restored by October 21st.

“It is shocking, for example, that the democratic process was so cynically manipulated in Westminster during the July holiday period to remove from law all explicit protections for unborn children in Northern Ireland up to 28 weeks in their mother’s womb,” he said.

“Today I plead with political representatives to return to Stormont before the 21 October and end this barbaric abortion legislation. The political impasse has gone on too long. I say to them: For the sake of life; for the sake of peace - make the necessary compromises and return to your posts - this is a critical moment.”

He was speaking to mark the 40th anniversary of a sermon delivered in the same spot by Pope John Paul II on his 1979 visit to Ireland, when the Pontiff urged political leaders to work together for peace, reconciliation and justice. The pope also called on those engaged in sectarian violence during the troubles to “return to the ways of peace”.

Archbishop Martin said: “As we gather here today, 40 years later, we are conscious of new threats to life, peace and reconciliation in our land. The last six months has seen a return to death and bombing in the North, with increased sectarianism and still no sign of a functioning Assembly to protect and develop the peace process.

“The responsibility to build a culture of life therefore belongs to all of us. Today’s anniversary commits us to redoubling our efforts to build that culture of life in Ireland and to counter the language of hate, barriers, walls and separation with peacemaking, reconciliation, bridge-building and co-operation.”