Four Church Leaders urge comprehensive response to violent crime
The Leaders of Northern Ireland’s four largest Christian denominations have written to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to express their concern at the present levels of violent crime and to highlight the need for a comprehensive response to this issue from community and political leaders.
Cardinal Seán Brady (RC), Dr Stafford Carson (Presbyterian Moderator), Archbishop Alan Harper (CoI) and Rev Donald Kerr (Methodist President) made their comments in response to the most recent IMC Report which they said “has much to encourage, but it also highlights the continuing risk of violence we face as a society.”
The Church Leaders noted the welcome the IMC gave to loyalist decommissioning and continued, “We call on everyone in Northern Ireland to support the PSNI and to cooperate fully with them in bringing those who commit crime to the due process of the law. This is fundamental to the peace and stability of a just and democratic society.
The letter, sent at the end of last week, concluded by encouraging ” all in positions of political influence to continue to provide leadership which demonstrates our ability as a society to overcome difference and work together for a better and stable future.”
Full Text of Letter from Cardinal Seán Brady (RC), Dr Stafford Carson (Presbyterian Moderator), Archbishop Alan Harper (CoI) and Rev Donald Kerr (Methodist President) to First Minister and Deputy First Minister
As leaders in the four largest Christian denominations in Northern Ireland we are greatly concerned at the levels of violent crime in our society. We wish to highlight the need for a comprehensive and collective approach by all community and political leaders in responding to this issue, so that the future of Northern Ireland will be one of peaceful respect and care for every person, particularly the most vulnerable in our society. The recent attacks on the elderly and other vulnerable groups are very disturbing.
We are particularly concerned at the most recent assessment of the activities of paramilitary groups carried out by the Independent Monitoring Commission. We note in particular that dissident republican activity since the early summer of 2008 had been consistently more serious than at any time since (the IMC) started to report in April 2004. We also note, more encouragingly, the welcome given by the IMC to the decommissioning to date of a quantity of UDA weapons and the significant and positive development² of the decommissioning of UVF and RHC arms. We call on all armed paramilitary groups to immediately disarm and to stop all criminal activity.
The IMC report has much to encourage, but it also highlights the continuing risk of violence we face as a society. We believe that risk will best be overcome by demonstrating clear, united and stable political and community leadership at all levels. While acknowledging and welcoming the steps taken by the political parties in recent years, we want to encourage all in positions of political influence to continue to provide leadership which demonstrates our ability as a society to overcome difference and work together for a better and stable future. We assure you of our continuing prayers for you in this vital enterprise.
If you feel we can help in the process in any way we would be very willing to meet with you to discuss these crucial matters further.
DONALD J WATTS
Joint Secretary to the Four Church Leaders