Joe Parker is an Irish-born Anglican clergyman who from 1962 worked with The Mission to Seamen in Belfast. Ten years later, his fourteen-year-old son Stephen was one of eleven people killed when a car bomb exploded in a shopping center. Stephen had correctly guessed the car’s lethal load and tried to warn people. He was posthumously awarded the queen’s commendation for gallantry.
His father had a billboard erected in the city center, showing the number of casualties since trouble erupted in 1969. Several times a week he updated it; recently the grim total showed 1,136 dead, more than 11,000 injured. Underneath was the inscription: “No Cause Can Justify This.”
Joe Parker helped found the Witness for Peace Movement, now comprising 40,000 people who want to end the violence. His life has been threatened through letters and telephone calls. “Some people,” he says, “don’t have to take a gun or plant a bomb to keep the cauldron of hate boiling. Some culprits sit in the front pews of churches every week.”
He has forgiven those who killed his son, and testifies that his faith has been strengthened. But he can no longer live with the hatred of those who cannot forgive. He has taken a post with his Mission in Vancouver, and with his wife and family is sadly preparing to leave his native island.
To write about Northern Ireland is a sure way of escaping the woes destined for those of whom all men shall speak well. I return to the subject with the utmost reluctance. During a recent six-week stay in the United States, I was appalled by the anti-British slant of television news items about Northern Ireland.
Apart from the sizable segment of the electorate that is Irish-Catholic in origin, Americans generally are not very clear about what is ...1
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