Irish bishop calls for support for border communities

 Communities on both sides of the north-south border in Ireland need greater economic and social support following the IRA statement, the Bishop of Clogher, Dr Joseph Duffy said yesterday. He explained: "Last Thursday's statement of the IRA in declaring without ambiguity or reservation a complete cessation of violence as a political weapon can only be welcomed by all shades of opinion on both sides of the border. It has been wisely said more than once over the past few days that it will take months if not years to enable us to grasp its full significance for the ongoing and demanding task of building up lasting peace and reconciliation. "I appreciate that fulfilment of the declaration, actions not words, is the issue, but I am equally aware that the statement is an essential first step towards the long-term goal which is the construction of a normal united community. "This is not in any way to take from the importance of the statement or to give less than full credit for the long hours of hard work of the part of the negotiating teams on all sides. The immediate value of the statement is to draw attention to the extreme urgency of continuing to address the legacy of the conflict, to renew our resolution to healing the scars of generations. How best to build openness and trust within, and between, divided communities - where the opposite has become a deeply-embedded way of life - is the essence of the task. There is so much work to be done to encourage mutual understanding, strict and self-critical fair play and a genuine sense of interdependence on all sides. There can no longer be winners and losers here, only winners. "The issue is especially critical in our cross-border communities. The ongoing economic neglect of these communities on both sides of the border over ears is an obvious and urgent need, crying out for immediate and vigourous attention, to be addressed as intrinsic to the overall social health of the country, north and south. But it's not at all the full answer to our current problems. Time and again, particularly in private conversation, we get glimpses into a hidden Ireland out there that expresses itself in sectarian terms, that condones crime on one's own side while deploring it on the other and this approach seems to ignore basic tenets of truth and morality when it comes to matters of public service and responsibility. In our more honest moments we may admit this to ourselves, but surely the time has come to face the implications in whatever practical ways we can, and this can begin with our neighbours in our own parish and area." Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

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