Posted on 26. Aug, 2012
Statement by Bishop Noel Treanor regarding the
Royal Black Preceptory Parade in front of
St Patrick’s Church on Saturday 25th August
I am certain that, with me, the vast majority of citizens across all traditions in Northern Ireland will have been appalled by the provocative sectarianism and insulting behaviour of some participants in the parade directly in front of St Patrick’s Church, Donegall Street yesterday, Saturday 25 August 2012. Their behaviour is not worthy of our city, nor of the Christian ideals espoused by the Royal Black Preceptory and other organisations involved.
I believe deep concern must also be expressed about the widely publicised letter, signed by public representatives with a mandate to serve the whole community, calling for the replacement of the Parades Commission and the existing legislation. The one-sided nature of this letter and the failure to acknowledge past and present behaviours that give rise to just opposition to such marches in a small number of areas, reflects a failed, partisan and unjust politics of the past. The signatories, particularly the First Minister and the MLAs, are public representatives for all citizens and for all traditions in our society. Their signing of this letter disappoints profoundly all who espouse an open, shared and tolerant society based on mutual respect.
As we seek to build that more tolerant future together, all public anniversaries should be shaped as moments for courageous leadership and new vision, rather than for encouraging hatred or for creating the conditions which might provoke violence.
It is long since time to stop reverting to the intolerant and disrespectful ways of the past.
It is time to consolidate and sustain respect for all traditions in our society, and particularly on occasions of commemoration.
It is time to foster freedom of religion for all and respect for every Church, Temple and place of worship without exception.
It is time to leave provocation behind us.
Critically, it is time to shape for our youth, our children and future generations, mentalities and patterns of respect for one another as citizens and human persons.
Contrary to the content of the Letter, in the absence of any political agreement about an alternative, the stability and democratic integrity of our society requires that our elected representatives give their full support for the lawful determinations of the Parades Commission. It is also vital that the Police Service of Northern Ireland, some of whose officers were regrettably injured on Saturday, is seen to police such determinations in a way that is clearly perceived to be impartial. That no visible effort appears to have been made to enforce the lawful restrictions imposed on Saturday’s march will have caused great surprise and concern to many and deserves to be explained by the PSNI. The police need and deserve unmitigated support from politicians, community leaders, residents and the participants in parades so that policing Commission determinations becomes an expression of community policing.
As further marches and commemorations approach, it is my ardent wish that good will, common sense, and Christian love and respect of one’s neighbour will guide us all in finding ways to make our city, our public manifestations of our traditions and beliefs, and our ways of dealing with each other edifying for the world to see, in contrast to the regrettable images from our streets transmitted across the world this weekend.
+ Noel Treanor
Bishop of Down and Connor
26 August 2012.