Elizabeth II described as 'peacemaker' by Colum Eastwood and Archbishop Eamon Martin
The late British monarch Elizabeth II was described as a 'peacemaker' by two prominent Derry men who will attend her funeral in London this morning.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said: “The death of Queen Elizabeth II has been a moment in history that most of us will remember for the rest of our lives. But I want to acknowledge that, for many, it has been a moment of immense pain and loss that will take some time to come to terms with. My thoughts and the thoughts of all those in the SDLP are with people across our communities for whom Queen Elizabeth II held a cherished place in their lives and in their hearts.
“Acknowledging that Elizabeth stretched herself to contribute to peace in Ireland and reconciliation between the people of these islands is not a difficult thing to do. Reaching out an arm of comfort and condolence to our friends and neighbours experiencing the pain of this moment is not a difficult thing to do.
"Respecting our neighbours, comforting them when they need it and listening to their experiences of someone they loved is what we do on this island, it is in our DNA to comfort during the pain of loss. It does not diminish me as an Irish nationalist, and it has never diminished others, to pay our respects in a quiet, dignified and conciliatory way.
“The story of the people of these islands is fundamentally and inseparably intertwined. It’s reflected in the Irish proverb - Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine. We all live in each other’s shadow. I hope that we can continue to build on the legacy that Elizabeth and others helped forge.
“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam."
Archbishop Eamon Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, said: "Since the Queen’s death there has been an outpouring of affection and genuine respect from right across the island of Ireland. I hope and pray that in some small ways this has helped to strengthen relationships and mutual understanding between our communities. Queen Elizabeth herself would want this. She was a courageous peacemaker and a reconciler of difference.
"In her Christmas message 2014, Queen Elizabeth said, ‘For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace … is an inspiration and an anchor in my life. A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, He stretched out His hands in love, acceptance, and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.’
"I will be praying at the funeral in Westminster Abbey that the efforts of Queen Elizabeth, and of so many others who took risks for our peace, will not be forgotten, or allowed to slip away. Many of these peacemakers have now gone to their rest. The work of peace, however, remains unfinished and urgent - and it is up to all of us to play our part.
"May Christ the Prince of Peace remain with us. May Queen Elizabeth rest in the Peace of that same Christ."