Statement by The Rt Revd Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, on the violence in East Belfast over the past five nights
Added on 08/01/2013
The violence in East Belfast over the past nights has been deeply disturbing for all of us in Northern Ireland. Everyone has a right to have a view about the flying of the Union Flag on Belfast City Hall, and the right to peaceful protest. What we have seen, however, has gone way beyond that and has ensued in destructive violence. ‘Loyalists’ are destroying their own loyalist communities, engendering fear in those who live in them – not least old people and children– and in so doing, are potentially damaging our future.
The truth is that Northern Ireland has lived for some years with a kind of peace, which is largely the absence of violence. However, we have not given ourselves adequately to finding a way of real peace which involves the development of a shared vision for the whole community. Two parallel universes have been copper–fastened, both in housing and politically, and we still live with the notion that one community must win and one must lose. The sense of ‘disconnect’ is particularly evident in loyalist communities and has been exacerbated by a perceived loss of identity, educational under–achievement, increased poverty and unemployment, and a belief that the ‘other side’ has gained more from the peace process than they.
However, none of this is an excuse for the kind of violence we have seen. The result will be to decrease inward investment, tourism, and the respect in which Northern Ireland is held worldwide for finding a way forward from sectarianism.
I stand with the vast majority of people in the province in pleading for a cessation of this violence, and a very intentional working on how we can best move forward in a real respect for and valuing of one another as human beings, each one of great value, and each one created in the image of God.
Down and Dromore
For further information, please contact
Down & Dromore Diocesan Communications Officer
Church of Ireland House
61–67 Donegall Street
Tel: (028) 9032 2268
Fax:(028) 9023 1902
Mob: 07595 231958