Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Irish Vote in May to Decide Fate of Peace

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Irish Vote in May to Decide Fate of Peace

Article excerpt

Church leaders across Northern Ireland welcomed the peace settlement brokered April 10 by politicians.

Archbishop Sean Brady, primate of all Ireland, commended efforts to work out a settlement to end Northern Ireland's 27-year civil conflict. "All of us now must be participants in the work of reconciliation, of building trust and healing the hurts," the archbishop said Good Friday.

Archbishop Robin Eames, Anglican primate of the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, said that for the settlement to come to fruition, "we have to say that we are prepared to take a step of faith."

The peace agreement was accepted April 10 by the governments of the Irish Republic and Great Britain and the political parties of Northern Ireland. It will be put to voters in the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland in May. In includes establishment of a new 108-seat Northern Ireland assembly, a North-South ministerial council and a British-Irish council, as well as constitutional changes for Britain and the Irish Republic. It also includes a review of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland, decommissioning of weapons held by paramilitary units and the release of political prisoners.

Some politicians who refused to attend talks were expected to campaign against the agreement. Preaching on Easter Sunday, the Rev. Ian Paisley, a Free Presbyterian pastor and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, warned parishioners that the agreement would push Northern Ireland to a united and predominantly Catholic Ireland. "We are going to be fed lies from now until the referendum by politicians," he said, "But our enemies do not know that we have a secret weapon, and that weapon is truth. …

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