Belfast Telegraph

Politicians have duty not to wreck the Good Friday Agreemen, insists ex-Moderator

By Alf McCreary

A former Presbyterian Moderator has urged politicians to make the Good Friday Agreement work and "not to wreck it".

The Very Rev Dr John Dunlop said: "The Good Friday Agreement was endorsed by the people of Ireland in concurrent referenda, so the Agreement belongs to the people of this island.

"It is the responsibility of elected representatives and their associated political parties to make the Agreement work, providing them with the parameters within which to operate. It's not their responsibility to wreck it."

Lord Eames, who was the Church of Ireland Primate in 1998, said: "The Agreement to me was an answer to prayer.

"Still today the legacy of the past darkens too many lives, and sectarian attitudes are never far beneath the surface. Nevertheless, the GFA remains the foundation stone for much else. In the negotiations for Brexit, the GFA cannot be allowed to suffer."

The Rev Harold Good, a former Methodist President, said: "While it is damaging to democracy, a war of words is to be preferred to a war with deadly weapons. I refuse to give up hope for the future."

The Rt Rev Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore, said: "The Agreement was one of the most exciting moments of my life. What is am sure of is that those 20 years have seen the loss of far fewer lives, and we have had glimpses of what could yet be possible. We should not easily jettison the benefits of the GFA."

The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, was a minister in Dublin when the GFA was announced.

"On that Good Friday morning in Dublin, Protestant and Catholic neighbours prayed in one church that the power of the Cross would bridge the chasm which had separated Southerner from Northerner, and Catholic from Protestant, for a lifetime.

"Twenty years later we realise the same prayer is still needed, and that sometimes miracles can be slow in finding fulfilment."

Fr Brian D'Arcy, who worked with former Taioseach Albert Reynolds to build bridges to peace in Northern Ireland, said: "The secret ingredient was the power of prayer by countless thousands over many years in many countries.

"There was one man who is rarely mentioned now, Gordon Wilson, whose Christian example was irresistible. He went to the heart of the IRA and begged them to cease the violence."

Fr Patrick McCafferty, who was an assistant priest in Turf Lodge in April 1998, said: "It would be a colossal tragedy were it to be negated by the egotism and bigotry of some politicians today, who lack the greatness of mind and heart that many of the architects of the Agreement possessed."

Belfast Telegraph

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