After reading the comments of clerics on understanding Martin McGuinness (March 31) it was refreshing to turn again to Philip McGarry’s comment (March 31) that Martin McGuinness was not mindless either in his days as a director of bombings and assassinations or in his later days as a government minister.
That comment makes sense as does his observation that prior to 1969 Northern Ireland “was in many ways a partially sectarian Protestant state; equally the Republic was a partially sectarian Catholic state”.
But what sense on earth can be made of the Presbyterian, Rev David Latimer’s claim (Page 11) that the dramatic change in Martin McGuinness’s unregretted life of terrorism “furnishes us with evidence of God’s amazing grace”?
And, similarly, the vacuous language (Page 10) of the Irish Methodist Church president, Rev Bill Mullally: what on earth does it mean to say that Martin McGuinness’s journey was a “journey of immense courage, determination and humility”?
“Courage”, yes, when it is remembered that when in the early 1920s Michael Collins changed his tactics and accepted what he saw as a temporary halt to the onward march he was assassinated.
And similarly, Kevin O’Higgins was assassinated on leaving Sunday mass, as in the recent Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ some Catholics were assassinated on leaving mass by the Provisional IRA.
Higgins had earlier set in motion the summary execution of dissident prisoners by the newly established Free State (some 80 in the first year) by ordering the execution of four dissident prisoners (one of whom had earlier been his best man at his marriage) in retaliation for the assassination by dissidents on a Dublin street of two newly elected members of the Dail Eireann.
Martin McGuinness merely denounced dissidents as “traitors to Ireland” as though he were the custodian of Ireland.
This totalitarian mindset, and its formation (not mindlessness) is the problem that churchmen are avoiding; that and the Anglophobia that accompanies it.
The Falls Road area in Belfast once had its Protestant churches and schools. But now no more. Surely, I would think, now a “mission field” much as East Belfast seems to be presently regarded by Methodist churchmen.
But that would require they pause to give some thought to what exactly they “mean” and then explain when they speak.
W A Miller, Belfast