Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Charitable responses get results

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In an interview in the Belfast Telegraph (November 9), the then Archbishop Brady declared that he had been very impressed with the "dignity and sincerity of members of the Loyal Orders" he had met over the years.

He stated that "as Catholics, we have to be more open to the important religious aspects of the Loyal Orders".

This generous comment was reciprocated. Nearly three weeks later, after he was elevated to Cardinal, he acknowledged the many expressions of support which he had received from members of Christian Churches in Ireland, "including some from individuals who are also members of the Loyal Orders".

At a reception at Stormont to launch Dana's new book, First Minister Ian Paisley acknowledged her as "a woman of great faith". Dana, for her part at the reception, wore a poppy.

These and other examples should remind us of the motto of James Craig, first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. Most will assume that his motto was 'No surrender' or 'Not an inch'. In fact, his family motto was 'Charity provokes Charity' and it is inscribed on his tomb.

This means that acts of kindness and respect to opponents will cause a similar response. Just as aggression provokes aggression, so kindness provokes kindness.

Critics of Craig will say that he showed little charity to his opponents.

However, the difficult circumstances of the 1920s and 1930s, the hostility of nationalists and the opposition of unionist critics, gave little opportunity for such an attitude to prevail.

Today, under new circumstances and widespread support for a shared future, there is a good chance for this approach to work.

Perhaps, all our politicians at Stormont should be brought to gaze upon these words which have a great contemporary relevance - 'Charity provokes Charity'.

Brian Walker, Belfast

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