In a statement issued on Easter Monday, April 5, the Church of Ireland bishops in Northern Ireland condemned recent disturbances in the province as ‘wrong’ and called for an end to the rioting and distruction.
In their statement, the Northern Ireland bishops said:
“The violence which has been happening in parts of Northern Ireland over the past week is wrong and should stop immediately. People may feel aggrieved at things which have happened in the political sphere recently, but that is where any grievances should be addressed – in the political arena – and any response to these grievances should remain constitutional and legal.
“It is never acceptable for anyone to attack police officers with petrol bombs, stones and fireworks, and to risk causing them serious injury or worse. The PSNI do an incredibly difficult job and deserve our support. People may have criticisms of policing but there is a forum for this, and any criticisms should always be expressed respectfully.
“There may be lifelong consequences, too, for some of the younger people involved in the past week’s disturbances, who could end up with prison sentences, criminal records or life-changing injuries. We urge them not to become involved in rioting and not to do anything which they might regret for the rest of their lives.
“Rioting and destruction are never the answer. They destroy neighbourhoods and divide our community.”
The statement concluded: “It is ironic that the recent trouble should have occurred during Holy Week and Easter, such a special time in the Christian calendar. Easter is normally an occasion when we are reminded of the possibility of hope through Christ’s resurrection and when we, as God’s people, are challenged to work towards a better and more hopeful future.
“It is incumbent on all of us to choose our words and actions carefully – at all times – and to do and say nothing which would jeopardise peace or upset the fragile equilibrium on which our political system depends.”
+ John Armagh
+ Andrew Derry and Raphoe
+ David Down and Dromore
+ George Connor
Among the areas affected are Newtownabbey and Carrickfergus, both of which lie within the Diocese of Connor. Referring to this, the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison added: “There are many people who have concerns with the aspects of the political process in Northern Ireland at the moment. However despite the frustrations that may be felt, a return to violence on the streets of our towns and cities is not the answer.”