City 'healing', competitors told
Recent violent protest in Belfast is destructive and fruitless, the Dean of Belfast has told a special World Police and Fire Games service for fallen security force members.
Many PSNI officers have been injured during nights of loyalist protest over marches in North Belfast and earlier this year over restrictions in the flying of the Union flag at Belfast city hall.
The police joined prison and fire service colleagues at St Anne's Cathedral in the city in remembering those from Northern Ireland and beyond who have been killed on duty.
Dean Reverend John Mann said: "This city, that has seen so much division and still periodically consumes itself in fruitless and destructive violent protest and individual sectarian attacks, is, nonetheless, a place of healing.
"It is not healed, it is a place of healing; it is not that we forget the past or have managed to overcome every frustration, but it is a place that we are training ourselves, year by year and month by month, to remember what has gone in a way that acknowledges the suffering of others as well as our own.
"It is not that we are in a city that cannot face its problems, actually, life in Belfast is vibrant and forward-looking and has many amazing people who are doing wonderful work, but we are learning that, seeking a shared future, involves being comfortable in our own skin as well as understanding others in theirs, and that it has to work both ways; it involves boldness and risk and sensitivity and a willingness to be criticised by those who are not ready for change, perhaps for very good reasons."
He said the Games helped cross boundaries and added personal endeavour in seeking excellence as part of a team was galvanising for competitor and armchair critic alike.
Almost 7,000 athletes from 67 countries are taking part in sports from running to shooting and archery over 10 days in Belfast and across Northern Ireland.
Security has been tight but organisers hope for a peaceful competition.
The multi-faith memorial service included hymns sung by the Cathedral choir and by the Belfast Gospel Choir. Invited guests included top ranking officers from each of the services, politicians, caring associations, Games athletes and members of the public.