THOUGHT FOR THE WEEKEND
TOMORROW is Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, when we celebrate the centenary of the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front to mark the end of the First World War. Tomorrow, we also remember all who have died in the Northern Ireland Troubles — police and Army, innocent civilians and many killed by the paramilitary organisations.
We must always remind ourselves that there was no moral, ethical, theological or doctrinal justification for paramilitary violence. Indeed, throughout the recent Troubles, the Christian churches here took a clear stand against the violence of the paramilitaries.
Since the Belfast Agreement in 1998, the paramilitary organisations have committed themselves to the politics of democracy. However, there is presently a substantial political deficit within Northern Ireland itself. This can only be corrected if effective politics is restored to Stormont, or if the departments of state can be mobilised to serve the community.
Brexit further complicates the local political scenario, but it is the job of our politicians to find a way forward. Compromise is required if the present Brexit impasse is to be overcome. Compromise is essential in many aspects of life. Why should politics be the exception?
In Northern Ireland, we have gone through the recent Troubles. Many innocent people have been murdered and countless others injured — maimed in body and mind for life.
For many years, in my waking and sleeping hours, I have had a vision of the people injured in the Troubles, moving slowly in long procession past Belfast City Hall — some on crutches, others in bandages, in wheelchairs pushed by relatives and friends, others wheeled in their beds. The procession of the broken. Someone said they number 40,000.
Yes, we remember the murdered and broken. But we must ask, “What would they want us to do now?” The answer is given in the memorable words of the dying Allied soldier on the Western Front in 1916: “When you go home, tell them of us, and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”
Today, we are grateful for the sacrifices made for us so that we may enjoy the democratic freedoms of peace, justice, association, movement, speech, religion and assembly.
Tomorrow is Remembrance Sunday. May we always remember the immense sacrifices to secure our freedom. And may you and I never forget.