Northern Ireland news

Chaplain who dedicated himself to peace after Bloody Friday death of son passes away in Canada

Rev Joseph Parker who passed away in Canada at the age of 89.

A founder of one of Northern Ireland's first peace organisations has passed away in Canada at the age of 89.

Rev Joseph Parker set up Witness for Peace in response to the death of his 14-year-old son Stephen, who was one of nine people to die in the 'Bloody Friday' IRA bombings in Belfast in 1972.

He had been Chaplain to the Missions to Seamen in Belfast at the time.

While he was devastated by the death of his son, he directed his grief towards peace and reconciliation before emigrating to British Columbia with his wife Dorothy and family in 1975.

His son Roger, a Church of England rector in Lancashire, was 16 when was his brother was killed.

He said his father spoke of identifying him only by the remains of a hand, his belt and a box of boys' 'trick matches' in his pocket.

After establishing Witness for Peace, he felt that his work in Northern Ireland was done and it was time to move on.

"He would have stayed but he felt he had done as much as he could and so continued his work with the Missions to the Seamen in Vancouver where he served as port chaplain until his retirement in 1993."

He added that Rev Parker was a supporter of the Good Friday Agreement and found hope in the fact that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were able to work together.

A funeral service will be held in Vancouver on Monday and the family are to bring his ashes to Northern Ireland so that 46 years after Bloody Friday, he can be interred at Roselawn Cemetery beside his son.

"He specifically requested his ashed be interned with Stephen. We are very proud of him and all he achieved," Rev Parker said.

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