Belfast Telegraph

Leave us all in peace: Cardinal Brady's plea to dissidents

By Sarah MacDonald

The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has pleaded with dissident republicans "to respect the desire of the people of this country to live in peace".

The Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said dissidents had "absolutely no mandate" for what they were doing.

The rise in dissident activity includes an attempted bomb attack on a Belfast shopping centre at the end of November, a failed incendiary bomb attack last week, and shots fired at police in north Belfast.

While expressing relief that these incidents had been thwarted, the cardinal worried that the dissidents still seemed to have "the capacity to wreck havoc".

"I hope they continue to be thwarted because there is no appetite for violence or a return to violence in Northern Ireland. That is my view and it is shared by a lot of people," he said.

"Any view of life that denies a person's humanity by reducing him or her to a 'legitimate target' offers no vision for the future," he said.

On the talks that are taking place under the leadership of US diplomats Richard Haass and Meghan O'Sullivan, Cardinal Brady said he had been heartened that the parties involved had pledged to stick at it, especially the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Recognising that the flags issue was proving the most difficult of the three issues, the cardinal said that with a certain amount of goodwill, flexibility and respect for each other it could be managed. He said the Churches could help in how to deal with the past.

Cardinal Brady also revealed he is looking forward to finishing his stint at the helm of the Catholic Church in Ireland and may return to low-key parish work when he retires in August 2014.

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