Archbishop Diarmuid Martin launches ICJSA document Violence in Irish Society:Towards an Ecology of Peace

05 Jun 2008

5 June 2008

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin launches ICJSA document
Violence in Irish Society:Towards an Ecology of Peace

– No child is born violent, but each of us needs to contribute to our local community
if we are all to live in a civilisation of love – ICJSA

– ICJSA to invite interested parties to a structured debate to develop practical proposals
to deal with the multi-faceted problem of violence in our society

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, today launched the publication Violence in Irish Society – Towards an Ecology of Peace at St Paul’s Church in Smithfield, Dublin. Also in attendance: Bishop Raymond Field, Chair of the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA); Fr Eoin Cassidy, ICJSA member and member of the Bishops’ Department of Social Issues and International Affairs; Sr Imelda Wickham, National Coordinator of Prison Chaplains; and, Sr Ethna Regan, ICJSA.
Speaking at the launch Bishop Field said, “We cannot underestimate the seriousness of the challenge of countering the rise of a violent culture in Ireland today. There are far too many people living amongst us whose lives have been blighted by the terrible effects of violence, the consequences of which are long term both at a personal level and for society. Today’s short position paper does not contain anything like a definitive analysis of the issue – more an exploration of the signs of the times. It is written as an invitation to dialogue and to raise consciousness of the complexity of the issues involved. The demands of a commitment to the common good ask nothing less.”
Violence in Irish Society suggests that, at a societal and a personal level: 

  • There is a need to ensure support for the victims of violent crime that acknowledges their pain and allows them to experience the solidarity of their local community.
  • There is a need to support the work of those organisations which promote non-violent strategies for resolving conflict and work to creating a non-violent ethos in society.

At a personal level

  • There is a need to recognise the class bias that often characterises our response to violence, seeking to coral violence at the margins of our experience – something that affects me only as a victim or as an observer rather than as a witness or an enabler.
  • There is need for an honest acknowledgement of our indebtedness to the society to which we belong – accepting the challenge to be active citizens with lives marked by a willingness to support our neighbours beyond any particular interest.
  • There is a need to acknowledge the responsibility of ‘recreational’ drug users for the violence that is associated with a lucrative trade in illicit drugs.

At a societal level

  • There is a need to move beyond a culture of fear that is heightened by those media outlets who describe the perpetrators of violence in a manner that de-humanises them.
  • There is also a need to acknowledge the harmful effects of bestowing celebrity status on violent criminals and glamorising violent behaviour. The proliferation of television serials that glamorise ‘god-father’ type criminals, the extensive marketing of a wide spectrum of violent video games, and the habit amongst some newspaper headline writers to refer to well-known criminals by their ‘pet’ names, significantly contributes to creating a climate of opinion that tolerates a culture of violence.
  • There is a need to acknowledge that no level of our society can be absolved from some share of responsibility for the existence of a violent culture. It is not just the income and power imbalances that are currently tolerated on the island of Ireland, but it is also the effect of everyday choices in areas such as health, education and service provision.
  • There is a need to ensure that priority is given to upgrading the social infrastructure of our urban disadvantaged communities, and that it does so in a manner that ensures the right of the local community to be a partner in this process is fully respected.
  • There is a need to encourage practical initiatives designed to promote an ethos of voluntary service and active citizenship at all levels of society.
  • There is a need to support family life whether it is by promoting family friendly work practices or by providing intensive family support for parents who need it.

Notes for Editors

Please see for a pdf version of Violence in Irish Society – Towards an Ecology of Peace.

The role of the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs is to support the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference in promoting the social teaching of the Church and to advise on issues of social concern, both nationally and internationally. Its mission is: To promote the social dimension of the Gospel with a view to building a civilisation of love.

The ICJSA is based in the Columba Centre, Maynooth, Co Kildare. It is chaired by Bishop Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Dublin, Executive Secretary is Fr Timothy Bartlett and its Research Coordinator is Ms Nicola Rooney.


Further information:
Martin Long, Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm, Communications Officer (087 233 7797)