Hope for Northern Ireland 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement

Now living in Edinburgh Irish-born Archbishop David Chillingworth is the retired Primus (senior bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church. Much of his ministry however was spent in Belfast, Northern Ireland, through The Troubles. He comments frequently on sectarianism and reconciliation. The BBC Thought for the day below is used with permission.

Last Thursday I happened to drive from Belfast to Dublin on our way to a family funeral. Unless you know, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the Irish border is. We sped across on a new Dual Carriageway – no checkpoints. I cast my eye up to the right and thought about the army watchtower that used to be up on the hill – and the many dark and dirty nights when I sat in a long queue waiting to be searched and asked where I was going.

But today – today is Easter Monday – it’s 10th April and the 25th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. That high-speed border crossing is just one of the benefits of the Agreement.

And of course – when President Biden arrives tomorrow – it’s still work in progress. There are threats of violence from dissident Republicans. There has been no Northern Ireland Executive for over a year. Some wag once said to me, ‘If it took 300 years to get into this mess, it may take 300 years to get out of it.’

But this is Easter – a season full of the hope which flows out from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. When you read about what happened, you find that Jesus’s disciples and friends were in a mess too. Where was the body? Who is this person in the garden? Is it the gardener? Then they lock themselves away for fear that they might be next – and suddenly Jesus is with them. My favourite moment is what happened with Thomas – known as doubting Thomas – because he sounds like a cautious politician. Thomas says, ‘Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands, I will not believe’. Then and only then does he see and believe. It takes time to live into hope and new possibility.

Irish poet WB Yeats wrote of ‘peace which comes dropping slow’. It is always so in Ireland. But I still have hope this Easter.



What life is like for ‘ceasefire babies’ in Northern Ireland, 25 years after the Good Friday Agreement

25 years after the Good Friday Agreement, some say “ceasefire babies” have inherited a fragile place with not much prosperity. We discuss what life is like for young people in Northern Ireland, with Belfast city councillor Séamas de Faoite and lawyer Sarah Creighton, two members of the ceasefire generation; and Siobhan McAlister, a researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, who’s researched the impacts of conflict legacy on children and young people in Northern Ireland and the border regions of Ireland.

THE GUARDIAN — Rafael Behr

The scale of vision and statecraft needed to end a civil war is what makes the Good Friday agreement exceptional. If it was routine, we wouldn’t be counting 25 years since its like was last seen.


God in difficult compromises,
God who helps us hold our differences
in relationships of mutual respect:
be with us as we mark this moment.

Let us not forget those who led us
with courage through many years
to give us the freedom to choose peace.

May our lives and our choices honour those
who continue to bear a legacy of suffering.
And may we show with similar courage
the willingness to create a hope-filled future
for those we might chose to leave behind. Amen.

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