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Methodist minister who oversaw IRA decommissioning "would be very comfortable" in a united Ireland

Methodist minister Rev Harold Good, left, with Fr Alec Reid after the pair had witnessed IRA decommissioning in 2005. Picture by Paul Faith/PA

A METHODIST minister who oversaw the decommissioning of the Provisional IRA's arms has said he would be "very comfortable" in a united Ireland.

However, Reverend Harold Good qualified that his support for Irish unity would be "depending on what you mean by a united Ireland".

The clergyman, who was an independent witness to IRA decommissioning in 2005 along with Catholic priest Fr Alec Reid, made the comments during a Féile an Phobail event in west Belfast on Tuesday.

Asked about his views on the union by an audience member, Rev Good said his grandfather had been involved in collecting weapons in Larne more than a century ago to be used by unionists to fight Home Rule.

He said: "I would be very comfortable in a united Ireland, as long as....it was John Hume who said that you have got to unite the people before you unite Ireland.

"I say unapologetically to my friends within unionism, for goodness sake, let's have this conversation.

"It would be much better to prepare yourselves for those realities and be part of that reality rather than resisting...something changes overnight and you wake up some morning."

Rev Good added: "I am a unionist, that is where I come from and I am comfortable with it. But depending on what you mean by a united Ireland...if it was talked through and thought through."

Meanwhile, Rev Good said that he has approached the Habitat for Humanity charity about the prospect of "bonfire builders" putting their energies to use in house building projects.

The minister said he was compelled to act after hearing a Nolan Show caller describe bonfires as "all we live for".

He said: "'I thought; this is all we live for? Come on!'

"So I have been in touch with Habitat for Humanity and we are going to see if we can get a bonfire builders Habitat team.

"To work somewhere, in some place, where they will have the opportunity to build houses for people who have never had a home. And they are not going to burn it down the next day," added Rev Good.

A spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity said the charity was "exploring" options with Rev Good.

She said: "Reconciliation and regeneration is at the heart of our work locally. When we bring people together from different backgrounds to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable, we break down barriers and help build a shared future.

"As a patron of our work for many years, Rev Harold Good knows how powerful our work can be for all who take part and we are exploring with him and others new ways of engaging young people from the most deprived communities."

 

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