Church leaders fearful of further trouble as ‘issues still unresolved’

Church leaders have expressed concern that the street violence of last week could re-emerge in the coming days.

Sunday, 11th April 2021, 6:36 pm
Updated Sunday, 11th April 2021, 7:45 pm
The PSNI came under attack during public disorder in Belfast on Wednesday evening. Photo: Pacemaker

Presbyterian moderator Rev David Bruce and Catholic Bishop Noel Treanor warned that the issues behind the disorder have not disappeared.

“The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is, of course, deeply distressing to everyone and has resulted in a slowing perhaps but I wouldn’t be optimistic that it’s going to result to an end of this,” Rev Bruce told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme.

Rev Bruce said such a possible crisis summit involving both the UK and Irish governments, as suggested in The Observer newspaper, “may be the way to address some of the systemic issues”, providing it also involved local leaders – and potentially representatives from the European Union.

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Bishop Treanor told the same radio programme that “creative steps” were needed to “support the institutions and mechanisms put in place by the Good Friday Agreement,” describing this as “absolutely essential”.

He said: “We cannot as a society, nor indeed can our political leaders, afford to take their eyes off the ball.”

Commenting on the prospect of a UK/Irish summit, Bishop Treanor said: “I am not a politician, but I certainly would because new, inventive, and creative steps now need to be taken in the name of peace.”

Meanwhile, posters have emerged appealing for loyalists to be respectful following the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.

The posters say: “We would ask all PUL (Protestant/unionist/loyalist) protests are postponed as a mark of respect to the Queen and the Royal Family.

“The continued opposition to the NI Protocol and all the other injustices against the PUL community will take place again after the period of mourning.”

The emergence of the posters ensured a planned protest in Antrim on Friday evening did not go ahead as had been planned.

The same posters are on display throughout Belfast, Co Antrim and other areas in NI where protests were planned.

A period of national mourning will end after April 17, when Prince Philip’s funeral takes place at Windsor Castle’s St George’s Chapel.

A national minute’s silence will be held to coincide with the start of the service at 3pm.