The Other I

April 7, 2011

Something to be glad for

Filed under: Uncategorized — theotheri @ 8:28 pm

I watched some of the media coverage yesterday of Ronan Kerr’s funeral in Northern Ireland.  Kerr was a 25-year-old Roman Catholic who had joined the Northern Ireland police force after the peace agreement.  Somebody planted a bomb under his car that exploded when he got into it.

Since “the troubles” began in Northern Ireland in the 1970’s, it has sometimes felt as if peace would never come to this troubled land.  The Catholics and the Protestants both seemed as if they would rather die than live side by side with each other.

But maybe – maybe – the peace is real.

This time, the outcries from both Protestant and Catholic communities was that this murder was an outrage, was a betrayal, did not have the support of the people whom it supposedly was meant to defend.

The First Minister of Stormont – a Protestant – attended the funeral, the first time in his life he had ever attended a Catholic mass.  This is even more revolutionary than it sounds, because for Protestants in Northern Ireland, the Catholic mass is a fundamental denial of their faith.

The Irish prime minister also attended.

Kerr’s mother begged other young Catholics  not to be deterred by her son’s murder but to join the Northern Ireland police force.

Kerr’s coffin was carried first by Kerr’s Catholic friends and family and then handed over the members of the police force whose members also acted as pall bearers.

Perhaps most surprising of all, thousands of Gaelic football supporters took part in a minute’s silence in memory of him before their match.  Until recently, police officers were forbidden to play on Gaelic teams.  Kerr did.

The people of Northern Ireland want to keep the peace they have finally achieved.

Two young men have been arrested on suspicion of being responsible for Kerr’s murder.  The speed of the arrests suggests to me that wall of silence on both sides that has protected people who engaged in this kind of sectarian violence in the past has broken down.

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3 Comments »

  1. […] The First Minister of Stormont – a Protestant – attended the funeral, the first time in his life he had ever attended a Catholic mass. This is even more revolutionary than it sounds, because for Protestants in Northern Ireland, … View full post on protestant – Google Blog Search […]

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    Pingback by Something to be glad for « The Other I - Christian IBD — April 7, 2011 @ 9:14 pm | Reply

  2. I don’t know how the English and the Irish elsewhere take this, but I can tell you the Irish in my part of New York are delighted. (And there is one helluvalot of them.) They are passing around copies of this blog’s printed version.

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    Comment by budavar — April 8, 2011 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

    • Oh my goodness, how fantastic! I’m astonished and delighted.

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      Comment by theotheri — April 8, 2011 @ 7:10 pm | Reply


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