Northern Ireland news

Clergy walk in solidarity through parts of Belfast impacted by violence

Religious leaders held an ecumenical service close to the peaceline at Lanark Way. Picture by Mal McCann

CLERGY from the four main churches in Northern Ireland yesterday walked in solidarity through parts of Belfast impacted by recent violence.

A short ecumenical service was also held at Forthspring, close to the interface between Springfield Road and Shankill Road.

The service was organised in response to the recent violence in the area.

Rev Colin Duncan of Shankill and Woodvale Methodist Church opened the service with readings from Rev Tracey McRoberts, rector of St Matthew's Church, Woodvale and Pastor Gordon McDade of Soul Space.

Prayers were said by Fr Tony Devlin, parish priest of St Paul's Church, Falls Road and Fr Martin Graham, administrator of St Peter's Cathedral.

There was also a reflection by Rev Jack Lamb of Townsend Street Presbyterian Church.

Following the short service, the clerics walked along the Springfield Road to Lanark Way before going through the gates into the Shankill area of the city and making their way back to Forthspring via Workman Avenue.

Numerous other clerics from the four largest denominations attended, including Bishop Noel Treanor of the Catholic Diocese of Down and Connor.

In a statement, he said the scenes of "civic unrest and violence on our streets" witnessed over the past weeks were "deeply concerning for all of us who believe in and have worked together for a shared, brighter future for our society".

"Already, many citizens, including a bus driver and a journalist have been injured as a result of this recent violence. I pray they will all recover quickly from their injuries," he said.

Bishop Treanor appealed to politicians to "weigh carefully the impact of their words, to avoid the deeply damaging politicisation of civic policing and to use the available mechanisms of accountability and influence to deal with any concerns that may arise".

"I also appeal to and implore young people to stop engaging in disturbance and violent activity now," he added.

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Northern Ireland news