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Stormont crisis: People waiting in the shadows to exploit a political vacuum, says Rev Harold Good

Published 09/09/2015

Fr Alex Reid and Rev Harold Good (far right) who watched as IRA weapons were destroyed in 2005
Fr Alex Reid and Rev Harold Good (far right) who watched as IRA weapons were destroyed in 2005

People in the shadows could exploit any vacuum created by the collapse of power-sharing in Northern Ireland, a minister who witnessed IRA arms decommissioning warned.

The Rev Harold Good, a former president of the Methodist Church, saw the IRA destroys its guns in 2005. It was a crucial milestone in the peace process which ended decades of conflict.

Mr Good visited Stormont today and said years of work could be lost if the devolved administration imploded.

"Many of us are fearful that all we have put into this and all that other people have worked for could get lost just too speedily, too swiftly.

"How difficult it would be to get it back. Let's remember that and let's think also about the vacuum that would be left, we could be back to square one.

"There are people out there waiting in the shadows, across our community, who would take advantage and exploit this opportunity for another agenda."

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Mr Good joined forces with Catholic priest Fr Alec Reid, a long-time confidant of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams who arranged ground-breaking talks between Mr Adams and then SDLP leader John Hume, to witness decommissioning.

Canadian General John de Chastelain led an international independent commission on decommissioning, which oversaw the destruction of weapons.

It was a pivotal moment in the peace process, coming after a 30-year conflict during which the IRA killed nearly 2,000 people, and was followed by Sinn Fein accepting policing, the rule of law and the restoration of devolution

Mr Good joined a group of church, voluntary and trade union figures at Stormont to highlight the peril if that devolution settlement came apart.

He added: "We cannot afford to have our institutions collapse. We are representing our young people, the folks with whom we live and work, and demanding that we do not lose our institutions for which they and all of us have worked so hard."

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