Ceremony in Armagh

 

Sir, – If Stephen Collins (Opinion, October 22nd) thinks that the absence of President Michael D Higgins from the ceremony in Armagh last week was a mistake that will have an adverse effect on “peace and reconciliation” in Ireland, then he and those who think like him are totally deluded and removed from reality.

Those not interested in peace or reconciliation or simple basic inter community civilised behaviour have not been, nor will ever be, influenced by the holding of religious ceremonies, and it must be remembered that these same senior clerics who organised the event are experts at maintaining bizarre theological positions and fostering division when it suits them, for example the promotion of divisive sectarian education, membership of the Orange Order, opposition to civil rights for women and gay people to mention just a few of their intolerant activities.

If religious leaders wish to lead, then they should do so in a manner that respects the human and civil rights of all citizens of Ireland.

– Yours, etc,

HUGH PIERCE,

Celbridge, Co Kildare.

Sir, – I note with interest Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell and other church leaders regretting they “didn’t do more to become peacemakers, or at least speak peace” in Northern Ireland, at the recent service in Armagh.

Rather than looking back with regret, how about looking forward with hope and positive action by promoting integrated education in Northern Ireland?

Here is the church leaders’ opportunity to make sure The Irish Times headline in October 2071 reads “Church leaders celebrate 50 years of integrated education, peace, mutual friendship and respect”.

– Yours, etc

BRIAN McBRIDE,

Dalkey, Co Dublin.

Sir, – I am glad the Christian leaders took “risks for peace” and conducted a service for reflection and hope. In an age of increasing polarisation, rancour and division, of which the island of Ireland is tragically all too familiar, amidst the furore it got overlooked that all religious traditions North and South were united behind this service. Furthermore, that Sinn Féin and the President were together in standing apart was telling.

Hopefully the day will come when the cause of peace and reconciliation on the island is something that people of all persuasions, religious, political and none can commit to and support. We live in hope.

– Yours, etc,

STEPHEN O’HARA,

Chaplain,

Carrowmore, Sligo.

Sir, – We heard the children at Armagh cathedral saying “We all breathe the same air, we all walk under the same tree”.

Unfortunately 23 years after the Good Friday Agreement, the majority of our children still attend segregated schools.

Many live in segregated areas, never meeting those from different backgrounds,

In poll after poll a majority of parents state that they are in favour of integrated education; the integrated schools are consistently over-subscribed and parents vote for their schools to be transformed to integrated status.

Rather than co-operating to speed through legislation and action on so many urgent matters, the politicians of the two extreme parties continue to threaten to bring down the institutions.

It is time for ordinary people to demand proper government to bring about genuine co-operation and reconciliation.

– Yours, etc,

MARGARET MARSHALL,

Belfast.