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Three days of rioting by Northern Ireland Protestants have left at least 50 people injured, as crowds took to the streets, throwing homemade grenades at police officers and burning vehicles.

The riots have brought doubt on the peace process that seemed to have made a breakthrough earlier in the summer. On July 28, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) declared an end to its campaign of violence and agreed to surrender its arms. The conflict between Catholic and Protestant militants, often referred to as "The Troubles," resulted in 3,000 deaths and 30,000 injuries from 1969 to 1994. British Prime Minister Tony Blair called the statement a "step of unparalleled magnitude." Evangelicals were more guarded.

"Our biggest concern is that there is nothing in the statement that indicates sorrow for what happened," Sean Mullan, director of Evangelical Alliance Ireland, told CT. "Change requires something deeper than issuing an order."

Mullan called for a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission. However, Ben Walker of the evangelical Center for Contemporary Christianity in Northern Ireland said the conditions are not ripe. "Without any shared commitment or trust, there is going to be little benefit."

The 1998 Good Friday Agreement (GFA) on power sharing has not rebuilt Northern Ireland's divided community, according to Mark Amstutz, author of the 2004 book The Healing of Nations. "The GFA did not address issues of trust but addressed the killing."

Amstutz called for the IRA to move toward repentance. "I think that if the IRA were to really understand the wrongs they committed in the name of political ambitions, it would contribute to moral healing."

Former Northern Ireland Presbyterian moderator Ken Newell said the IRA is not ...

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A Question of Repentance
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October 2005

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