THE Church of Ireland's response to the Eames-Bradley report has been questioned by a senior cleric who helped to draft the Church document.
An official submission from the Church's Standing Committee Working Group to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster makes no reference to the most controversial proposal in Lord Eames and Denis Bradley's report — that the families of everyone killed in the Troubles, including dead terrorists, receive 12,000.
But Canon Michael Kennedy, a member of the working group chaired by Bishop Michael Jackson, said that he had not received a copy of the submission before it was sent to Westminster and raised questions about the final document.
Speaking to the Church of Ireland Gazette, he said that the Church's comments on the Eames-Bradley report were "very general in character" and added: "It is difficult to see the relevance of this to the realities of the consequences of what people experienced in the Troubles."
Canon Kennedy also said that he did not feel the response really reflected any of his expressed concerns on the committee.
Canon Kennedy, a committed ecumenist and prominent Church of Ireland scholar, also questioned the process behind the Church's submission.
He said that a teleconference in January had been followed by written comments from members of the group but added: "I would have expected a further meeting of all concerned in one place before the response was sent to Westminster."
The Church's submission to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the Eames-Bradley report, welcomed the Eames-Bradley proposal for a day of reflection on the Troubles, as well as welcoming the proposal for a Legacy Commission and Legacy Commissioner, something which many unionists have expressed reservations about.
The Church's submission acknowledged that reaction to the Eames-Bradley report demonstrated that there were "huge issues on which there is no consensus".
The Church committee also said that a theological framework of mutual respect which embraces intrinsic human dignity: "History repeatedly shows that, in the reconstruction of a fractured society, unselfish acts of goodness 'across the divide' do more than does crying for fresh blood; the scales of justice take us only so far in the quest for grace."
And, although not uncritical of the Churches' role in the Troubles, it added: "The Churches in Northern Ireland have a track record in sustaining community cohesion, preventing retaliation, caring for victims, and promoting dialogue."
However, the submission warned that it was "premature to recommend without qualification" a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.