'We should all have freedom to move without hindrance from protesters'
THE Rector of St. Macartin's Cathedral in Enniskillen, Dean Kenneth Hall, has spoken out about the loyalist flag protests, Britishness and Irishness and the need to break down "the sectarian mindset."
"I believe in civil and religious liberty for all and therefore believe we should all have the freedom to move safely throughout our country without being hindered in any way by protesters," he told The Impartial Reporter.
"We also live in a democratic society and as democratic citizens we have to abide by the democratic process, whatever that process may produce. However much more importantly, one day, it will all cease to exist and we would be much better placed in making sure we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven. Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven love God and share God's love with all regardless of difference. Praying for those with whom we differ is a much better means than street affrays."
The row over identity in Northern Ireland has been "an implicit part of our mindset in the sectarianism that has permeated across our society" says Dean Hall. Speaking at a Pray for Peace event in Cookstown this week, he said the recent problems surrounding the flying of the union flag at Belfast City Hall "is not just about religion."
"It is rather about allegiances: one allegiance to 'Britain' and 'Britishness' and the other to 'Ireland' and 'Irishness'. Such allegiances can emerge in names, colour codes, dress, and even variations in language and pronunciation and now flags -- marking territory."
Dean Hall said history has been used by both traditions "to articulate and fortify those separate allegiances" and added: "Yet, for all these differences, regardless of how we draw our identity, people realise with increasing acuity that we are living here together, breathing the same air, walking the same streets, admiring the same scenery, attending the same weddings and funerals, sharing the same soil. Because of this, the realisation is growing again here that we must share a common destiny too," he said.
During his address at Holy Trinity Church, Dean Hall read a quote from Martin Luther King, Junior, whom he said "articulated that kind of separation."
"He said men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated."
Dean Hall told the congregation that "most people in Fermanagh" are happy to endorse the friendships quietly formed and kept over the years, despite the Troubles and spoke of his joy that Her Majesty The Queen chose to attend St. Macartin's and St. Michael's during her visit to Enniskillen last year in a historic act of "togetherness" and his pride at the recent cross-community carol service held in both churches.
"This is no small thing in Northern Ireland. Reflecting on that 'crossing the road', it's not hard to see the implicit invitation to break down myths, suspicions, divisions and all those other things garnered tacitly by the sectarian mindset."
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 24 Jan 13