Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Columba Community of Prayer and Reconciliation

  In reply to your recent inquiry about possible ways of dealing with Northern Ireland's past and bringing about the reconciliation and healing we all desire and require in order to move on with our lives, we feel we have a contribution to make.

  In our experience of over 25 years in Columba Community of Prayer and Reconciliation in building peace, the way we found effective is the Good Friday Repentance Service 1985 outside the Guildhall (see enclosed document). We feel this deserves your attention. This was the culmination of several meetings over preceding months where a small group of representatives from the four traditions (denominations) who know their history, could learn to trust one another enough and give their honest perception from their side and be listened to respectfully. In time this process resulted in each group taking ownership of a list of faults, unjust procedures and sins. It was only then that these people could honestly confess, admit, relay on their own behalf and on behalf of all those who would accept these declarations and genuinely and honestly request the other sides forgiveness in a public or a semi public way. The months following this repentance service saw the longest period without violence from any source in Derry for 17 years at that point. Surely this is saying something. It was pioneered in Derry in 1985, refined and held again in 1988 in Belfast Dublin and London.

  As you will see from the enclosed brochure[3], the process is as important as the end result. We feel that it worked and that when refined further it will work even better. I am copying below on this word document the content of our website referring to this initiative. We will send a hard copy of this and a copy of the booklet we printed at the time. The fact that the Agreement about which we are presently negotiating was signed on Good Friday quite a few years later is significant.

  Trusting this is helpful in your work. We wish you well in your deliberations. If we can be of any further assistance on this matter please do not hesitate to contact us.

1 December 2004

(Text on Web site)

Good Friday 1985

  For quite a few months prior to Good Friday 1985 we met as a community with individuals of other Christian Denominations and after a lot of soul searching and with quite a bit of trepidation we embarked on this initiative. We believe it has far reaching implications for all of us in Ireland and for the whole world.

  An awesome statement but think about it!

  I am happy to be able to give you this event in word form which you can copy out and contemplate and I believe that we will look closely again at the implications and do something about it. With your prayers and support we should have no need to doubt that what we do will bear fruit.

  We need to Build Peace and we are delighted to be able to continue our work in this area.

  We will shortly be re-establishing contact with other Peace groups to maximise our efforts.

Good Friday Confessions Derry City 1985 and still relevant worldwide

  (File on Web Site [taken from enclosed booklet which we had had printed at the time].)


  I have always known that the initiative below, worked at in prayer and enacted so radically at a time in our history when taking to the streets to process religiously may have been considered foolish, was powerfully significant.

  How foolish indeed of those who think there is any other way to heal a wound so deep. I am delighted to be able to put this on our web-page for your study and contemplation. Many ministers and priests and even organisations in searching for an answer to Community Relations have since tried to use an adaptation of this model or re-invent a different wheel but I ask always .......Why not go again with this first effort, improve on it and release again the power that it generates?

3   Not printed. Back

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