Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Peace in Northern Ireland

A new day has dawned! Ian Paisley, the Democratic Unionist party leader and Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander, joined together today to assume office as first and deputy first minister at the head of a new power-sharing government.

Mr Paisley declared: "In politics, as in life, it is a truism that no one can ever have 100% of what they desire. They must make a verdict when they believe they have achieved enough to move things forward.

"I can say to you today that I believe Northern Ireland had come to a time of peace, a time when hate will no longer rule. How good it will be to be part of the wonderful healing in this province today."

A participant in the peace process says that understanding the enemy is the key to peace. And here's Kenneth Kearon's take on the relevance of this day for the Anglican church: its at the local level.

“The Irish experience would say that at the heart of reconciliation is engagement and conversation,” he said. However, the intent to talk is not enough, for “real reconciliation is very, very difficult. The sort of listening that enables you to enter into the experience of the other person and begin to see through their eyes.

“It takes courage” and requires “significant and symbolic gestures,” he said, and demands that one “accept things that you would have found offensive in the past.”

Although the rhetoric was worrying, Canon Kearon said he was encouraged by the conversations underway “where people have been engaged in dialogue in a public way across what looked like an irreconcilable divide.”

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