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We must reject the politics of hatred and spite to move forward

By Fr Patrick McCafferty

On May 22, 1998, 71.1% of people in Northern Ireland voted in favour of the Good Friday Agreement.

A total of 94.39% of people in the 26 counties, ratified the necessary amendment to the Irish Constitution that would facilitate greater understanding between the two main political traditions, on the island of Ireland.

The goals of the Peace Process that culminated in the GFA were reconciliation, parity of esteem and, after years of trauma, bloodshed and heartbreak, a future free from the threat of terror and violence.

The people of Ireland, North and South, voted overwhelmingly for peace and they trusted their elected representatives to implement their wishes.

To date, the institutions in the North of Ireland, instead of delivering stability and governance with equity and mutual respect, have lurched from crisis to crisis. Now, once again, they are on the verge of collapse.

Many of the MLAs in Stormont are professing Christians; and yet, from a Christian perspective, the root cause of the continuous malaise and dysfunction, is a radical failure to act as Christians.

At the core of the difficulties that threaten our society is the basic refusal to obey God's command: "you must love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31).

The Word of God, by which many MLAs claim to be guided, is most explicit: whoever hates his or her brother and sister is a "liar" and a "murderer".

Those who hate do not know God and they do not have eternal life in them (Cf. I John 3:15 and 4:8).

Northern Ireland must reject the politics of hatred, bigotry, contempt and spite. There must be a radical conversion away from imagined superiority, self-righteousness and supremacism. We make no progress because of this basic failure to obey the command of God.

The RHI scandal, caused by incompetence, as well as secretive and elitist individuals possessed by greed, is symptomatic of a deep-seated disease.

Those who stubbornly persist in hate-filled and bigoted attitudes are as guilty as so-called "republican dissidents" in further wounding and endangering our communities.

In the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, there must be radical conversion, at Stormont, towards a new politics of genuine reconciliation, forgiveness and mutual respect.

The answer to Stormont's perpetual crises is repentance: "only light can drive out darkness; only love can drive out hatred" (Dr Martin Luther King, Jnr).

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