For Northern Ireland, Dialogue May Be a Last Option

Diocesan Spokesman Surveys Scene

Share this Entry

BELFAST, North Ireland, SEPT. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The bomb that exploded on Wednesday near Holy Cross primary school in Ardoyne, Belfast, wounding four policemen and terrorizing the Catholic schoolgirls, is further proof of the escalation of violence in Northern Ireland.

The Red Hand Defenders, a cover organization for militant Protestant groups, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The world was shocked by the pictures of little girls crying, as they were pelted with stones and insulted. Father John McCamus, spokesman for Bishop Patrick Joseph Walsh of Down and Connor, told the Italian newspaper Avvenire that the whole event was shameful and sad.

“On Tuesday, I accompanied Bishop Walsh during his visit to Holy Cross school,” Father McCamus said. “His presence represented a moment of peace and security, but the terror in the eyes of those innocent creatures is manifest proof of the trauma caused by the tumult.”

Explaining the reason for the attack in Ardoyne, the priest said that “it is the result of the political instability caused by the crisis of institutions in Northern Ireland. The problem is linked to the fact that the school is located in a neighborhood in which both Protestant Loyalists and Catholic Unionists live.”

“The first signs of the worsening of the situation occurred in June, toward the end of the school year,” he continued. “Disorders have broken out with the return to school. However, this is a situation that has its roots in the past, and the recent attacks are obviously the symptom of a general situation.”

The risk is that other schools will become objects of violence. However, these acts “have reached a level that offends even some representatives of the Loyalist cause, a sign that perhaps the situation is about to change,” the diocesan spokesman explained.

According to Father McCamus, dialogue is the only option left.

“The Catholic Church is fostering dialogue among the representatives of the different communities of the region,” he said. “However, before dialogue can begin, there must be an end to violence.”

In this respect, the attitude of Protestant religious leaders is positive, he said.

“Yesterday morning, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church visited Holy Cross school, and, afterward, he went to the Protestant school,” Father McCamus noted. “This is really a significant event, which has been received very positively.”

Meanwhile, the girls of Holy Cross and their parents walked to school surrounded by police, armored vehicles and wire fencing, in face of a demonstration by 100 Loyalists who jeered, hissed and banged trash-can covers.

Share this Entry

ZENIT Staff

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation