Saturday, 31 January 2009

More Hurt for Victims of Terrorism by Church Leader

Sir, As one of the many victims of institutional abuse, I write to you as a suffering, perplexed, at times confused, and often angry victim. I am being put through continual suffering by people like your esteemed former archbishop, Lord Eames, who, in his current report, co-authored by Denis Bradley, makes me equal with those who murdered my youngest brother in 1977, aged 22.

I find it unacceptable that the former Anglican archbishop of Armagh, who conducted the funerals of many Northern Ireland Anglicans, who died at the hands of terrorist attacks, should now equate them with the vilest terrorist murderers in western Europe.

These 'men (and women) of the cloth' ought to hang their heads in shame at what they have now inflicted on the families of the innocent victims of terrorism. My church of Ireland friends are appalled at what Lord Eames has done, working as he was to the agenda of the NIO, his paymaster. They feel humiliated at what their former church leader has now inflicted upon them. Unbelief at what a minister of the church could do to them knowingly (by his own admission), in all their hurt, grips them, and anger fills many hearts. Lord Eames imagined that he was engaged in a process that would help victims put the past behind them, and thus facilitate their recovery. He, and his fellow-travellers, have done the very opposite.

The scenes at the Europa last Wednesday do not bode well for the future, although the spin that is being put on what happened is that this is a good thing, with more positive results to follow. Wrong! What he and his group have given us is 'more of the same.' The future looks very bleak indeed.

Because Lord Eames is an Anglican minister, his church obviously condones what he has said and done in this offensive report. There will be many Anglicans throughout the world who will be singing Robin's praises, believing that he has done a good thing. The entire Anglican communion will feel very proud of their colleague, not knowing that he has driven many innocent victims of his church and outside it to the very point of despair. They will praise him believing that he has helped bring closure to the many who were hurt in 'the conflict,' not realising that he has brought about further polarisation within the Northern Ireland community.

The very least the church of Ireland can now do is to apologise to every innocent victim of terrorism for the profound hurt that Dr Eames & Co have afflicted on them. I know that apologies by the church are poor substitutes, but when they are accompanied by a deliberate distancing of the church from what Robin has said, and a clear statement that they do not endorse his equating of victims and terrorists, but rather repudiate such an equation, they just might carry a little bit of weight with church members. Perhaps not!

In addition, the church of Ireland should now call Dr Eames in for questioning about the role he has played in the further re-victimisation of the innocent, and the re-traumatising of the victims, many of whom belong to his church. He should be questioned about his lack of judgement and his rank insensitivity towards those who never wanted to be victims in the first place - that decision was made by the terrorists.

Surely, there must be accountability for actions that have caused such deep hurt to people who have been trying to get over their past horrible experiences. Credit would have been accorded to Lord Eames had he stated that he does not share the definition of 'victim' that found its way, unopposed, into legislation, but rather that he found it morally offensive and objectionable; sadly, he did not do so.

Perhaps he has learned the lesson that any legislation that removes the distinction between right and wrong, between law breaker and law keeper, between terrorist who, by definition, always acts outside the law, and those who, by default, have acted within the law, is very poor legislation. Perhaps not! You decide.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Terrorist Victims Offended Again by Church


(Similar sentiments were also sent to the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh, and to Coventry Cathedral where David Porter works)

Dear Dr Patten

I read with disgust, in the Newsletter yesterday (29/01/09), the endorsement of the Eames/Bradley report which your church gave to it. It is quite clear that the service for victims that was held in Belfast by your church and at which you officiated was but a cover-up for your real orientation.

That service may have 'taken in' some Presbyterian victims (the appellation counts for nothing save in the councils of the sectarian), but it did not deceive many others. Your fraternisation with PIRA/SF over decades is enough to dispel any notion that you have any care or concern for victims.

The deafening silence of Presbyterian ministers about this institutionalised re-traumatisation of victims, mainly by senior ecumenical church people, is an affront to decency. It appears that they all endorse the position of PCI on this matter.

I am asking you to do two things, as a matter of urgency; first, to send out through the media an unqualified apology to all those decent victims whom you have insulted by your unsympathetic stance of many years, and your support for this repulsive report; and second, to bring Lesley Carrol in for questioning by Presbyterian victims who share my revulsion to this report and the church authorities for her role in this obscenity.

However, because Lesley Carrol is one of your ministers, you are by default in a conflict of interest situation, so any "considered response" will be, from the outset, invalid.

If you do these two things, and show that you really do support the innocent victims of terrorism, then you will have salvaged some semblance of credibility for your church as a caring institution.

However, if you refuse to come out in support of the innocent victims, many of whose relatives your church's ministers buried, including my youngest brother, Ken, then you will have demonstrated yet again your hypocrisy so far as your concern for the current and constant pain and suffering that many victims of terrorism still experience.

Please do not further retraumatise victims. You witnessed on Wednesday, as I did, the anger and depth of feeling that were expressed at the Europa Hotel - I must add that your refusal to even acknowledge my presence and dignified protest was noted, compared with the personal and gracious approach to me by the current President of the Methodist Conference, and a former one; do not conclude from that that those who chose not to express their anger and disgust, by that means, at the Eames/Bradley report felt any lesser degree of unfathomable emotion.

I found the launch very difficult at times, knowing that the brigadier of the Belfast Brigade of the PIRA, Gerry Adams, who was responsible for numerous terrorist outrages, not least the La Mon massacre, and for the reputation allotted to the Europa Hotel as the most bombed hotel in Europe, and a man who was welcomed into and 'preached' in at least one of your pulpits, was present, thus adding profound insult to long-standing injury on that occasion.

If you can give me any reassurance or even show me any respect as a human being, then I look forward to receiving your reply to this email that was exceedingly painful for me to write and send to you.

Still hurting.