Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Why not a religious service for Royal Irish?

Over the past fortnight I have listened and read carefully the position of people within the nationalist community whose loved ones were killed by the British Army.

I am heartened by their dignified and magnanimous outreach to our community as they both explain their case opposing a homecoming march and, more importantly, in recognising the need to celebrate a homecoming event without the need to march.

Supporting a civic reception is a huge step forward and one that would have been unthinkable several years ago

I was struck by the adage ‘putting yourself in their shoes’ and, to be honest, struggled to find a comparison with these families within the unionist community that would currently display the same sense of magnanimity and understanding, given their experience.

That’s not to say that a voice of reason or understanding is absent within unionism, but rather it is not heard and has been largely silent.

That a similar voice has not found a space in recent years is an indictment of our political leadership. Therefore, I was delighted to hear a voice of reason from the Rev David Latimer, who stated publicly that in his view an ecumenical religious service would be the ideal homecoming for the troops and not a march.

I believe that the march is contentious and, therefore, unwise.

We need to build upon the outreach by the bereaved within the nationalist community supporting a civic reception in order to build relations in the city and elsewhere.

Hopefully, reason and common sense will prevail and accommodation reached.

Maybe our political leaders should wear the shoes of others — if only for a moment and reciprocate.

R Jamison

Belfast

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