Eamon Martin hails John Hume and Martin McGuinness as risk-takers for peace

Eamon Martin has marked the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement by hailing the role of John Hume and Martin McGuinness in ‘taking risks’ for peace.
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In an Easter message to the people of Ireland the Derry cleric also remembered the thousands of people who died during the decades long conflict that was brought to an end by the 1998 peace accord.

"This Easter I thank God also for the lives and livelihoods that have been saved since then, and for the architects of the Agreement who took such risks for peace, making political compromises to secure a better future for us all.

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"Many of them - including John Hume, David Trimble, Martin McGuinness, David Ervine, Mo Mowlam, Seamus Mallon - have gone to their rest.

John Hume and Martin McGuinnessJohn Hume and Martin McGuinness
John Hume and Martin McGuinness

“I attended the anniversary event in the Assembly buildings at Stormont earlier on Friday. I had mixed emotions during that moving, but hope-filled ceremony.

“On the one hand, on behalf of the thousands of people who were killed or injured during the ‘Troubles’, I am grateful that hostilities were largely ended in 1998 and the lethal bombs and bullets were removed from politics on this island,” he said.

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The Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland lamented the continuing sectarian division within society in the North.

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“On behalf of our children and grandchildren, I am saddened that we remain a people divided, separated by distrust, sectarianism, and by the continued threatening presence of paramilitaries. We seem to be unable to agree to govern ourselves in a normal manner for any reasonable length of time.

“We must all share responsibility that the Agreement’s vision of a peaceful and reconciled society has not yet been accomplished. We have not found a way of healing the awful open wounds of the past or sustaining positive relationships within, and between these islands,” he stated.

Archbishop Martin spoke of the Bible’s message of peace, stating: “The work of reconciliation is compulsory for Christians. Reconciliation was not an optional extra in the Gospel message and teaching of Jesus: it was a core value.

"To leave unchallenged the existence of sectarianism, bigotry, hatred and violence between Christians, is a grave scandal.”