Belfast Telegraph

Centre ground wants only reconciliation

The Alliance Party was called a unionist party with a small 'u'. Now it is the enemy of unionism.

The current dualistic (zero sum) division of politics in Northern Ireland will never work. Jim Hendron is quite right in saying the Alliance Party is a cross-community party and cannot be pigeonholed as unionist or nationalist.

I would call it the party of reconciliation. Reconciliation of the communities is its aim. I have explained this in my book, History and Hope - The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

Reconciliation involves four aspects: forgiveness, repentance, truth and justice.

Forgiveness is very difficult, but refusal to try and forgive results in ongoing anger and bitterness in oneself. Forgiveness does not deny that wrong was done, nor that justice should not be sought. It does not let the perpetrator free, but it frees oneself from continuing bitterness.

Forgiveness does not require repentance, though it helps if that is forthcoming. It is an act of will, starting with a determination to avoid revenge. Witney Stokes said in 1799: "The only thing that will save Ireland is mutual forgiveness."

Dr Brian Eggins

Rostrevor, Co Down

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