Old narratives and Armagh service

A chara, – In defence of his criticism of the recent service in Armagh, Fr Joe McVeigh questions whether "reconciliation is possible in the context of continued structural injustice?" (Letters, October 21st).

He goes on to cite a possible parallel; “For example, could we have imagined the South African reconciliation process proceeding without the dismantling of the apartheid system?’

Any possible comparison between the status quo in Ireland today and apartheid South Africa disappeared on May 22nd, 1998, when the people of all Ireland, in an act of self-determination voted to approve the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

It is worth remembering that well over 90 per cent of Irish nationalists, North and South combined, voted in favour of it.


That was a huge – and noble – endorsement of the route of reconciliation over conflict; it meant sacrifice and compromise on all sides.

On this side of eternity no solution is ever “final”; who knows what will be the future of this island in the decades and centuries to come?

However if Irish nationalists choose to forget the nobility of the decision taken in May 1998 and seek to “unite” Ireland by way of the old narratives of victimhood and “winner takes all” it will mark a fall from grace.

– Mise le meas,


Bishop of Raphoe.