On the United Nations’ Universal Children’s Day (20th November), Church leaders in Ireland have added their voices to those calling for an end to all paramilitary attacks in Northern Ireland. The Church leaders emphasise, in particular, how these attacks continue to impact the lives and wellbeing of children and young people.
“At the heart of the vision for the Peace Process was the hope that children and young people might be protected from the violence that blighted the lives of previous generations. Sadly, too many in our society continue to be exposed to this violence at an early age, either as victims of direct attacks, or as members of families subjected to attacks or intimidation. Making our communities safe and welcoming places is the responsibility of all members of society. We need to ask ourselves whether the legacy of violent conflict here has caused us to feel powerless to challenge the culture that supports the continuation of this type of violence. We have many examples of courageous leadership from those working to give our young people better opportunities and help those at risk make better choices – in our churches, in youth clubs, in education, sports clubs and in the wider community and voluntary sector. Much of this valuable work is now under pressure as a result of funding cuts and financial uncertainty. In this context, it is more important than ever that we seek to lend our support to initiatives that offer young people the chance to achieve their full potential and challenge those who seek to trap them in never–ending cycles of violence.”
Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
Rev Dr Laurence Graham, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh
Bishop John McDowell, President of the Irish Council of Churches
Rt Rev Dr Noble McNeely, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland