The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev Alan Abernethy, was one of seven Bishops of the Northern Province of the Church of Ireland to welcome news that the UDA had decommissioned all weapons.
In a statement following the pronouncement of decommissioning on January 6, the Bishops, including Archbishop Alan Harper, said: “Today’s announcement confirming the putting beyond use of all UDA weapons is to be warmly welcomed and gives encouragement at the beginning of this New Year.
“It marks a major step towards building a peaceful, stable and just society. It is our hope that the removal of the means to paramilitary violence will be received positively by all and gives confidence to our politically elected representatives. It is important for all strands of our community to find productive ways of expressing their political and cultural aspirations with respect for everyone.”
The Bishops went on: “We respect the integrity and judgement of Lord Eames and Sir George Quigley in the independent eye-witnessing process and of General John de Chastelain’s confirmation of it.”
The statement concluded: “We remember in our prayers the families of all who have lost loved-ones or been affected as a result of conflict in our society.”
It was signed by the Most Rev Alan Harper, OBE, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; Right Rev Dr Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher; the Right Rev Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe; they Right Rev Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore; the Right Rev Alan Abernethy, Bishop of Connor; the Right Rev Ken Clarke, Bishop of Kilmore, Elphin and Ardagh; and the Right Rev Dr Richard Henderson, Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry