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Sectarianism 'alive and well'

17 May 2013

SECTARIANISM is alive and well throughout Ireland, the General Synod heard.

The Revd Andrew Forster proposed a motion to continue the Hard Gospel Project, an anti-sectarian initiative. He said that the challenge of sectarian division had not gone, and that dissident activities were on the rise.

He said that sectarianism was alive and kicking in leafy suburbs, not just in inner-city Belfast; and in the North and South of Ireland. Sectarianism, he said, had poisoned their past and fractured their present, and had the potential to pollute the future; the issue could not be ignored by the Church.

Ken Gibson (Connor) said that people had asked why the Church was still talking about sectarianism. Statistics of shootings in Northern Ireland, assaults on members of the Police Force, segregated social housing and education, increased barriers, and paramilitary attacks, showed that the issues persisted.

He said that people thought it to be solely a Northern issue, but he referred to the Archbishop of Dublin's comments stating that sectarianism was thriving in Dublin.

The Revd William Orr (Connor) said that he represented a broken, loyalist community - working-class people who, through the flag protests, had been afraid to speak out for fear of being called bigots. He urged Synod members to take time to listen to the disenfranchised groups within their congregations. The people who cause sectarianism were the people who need to be spoken to, he said.

The motion was carried.

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