20 years ago today the Good Friday Agreement ended 30 years of violent conflict about Northern Ireland's constitutional status, sometimes known as “The Troubles”. Maintaining various aspects of the agreement for the future is focusing minds on the discussions and forthcoming Brexit arrangements. Building peace and engaging in reconciliation is always costly and very hard work. On a recent visit to Sri Lanka I experienced first-hand the kind of efforts being made to heal memories and bring disparate and sometimes still hostile groups together. Reconciliation is never cheap, but is always the result of long and often frustrating negotiations. The reality of talking with those you would rather not be talking to, is a process the world over. We need to speak to our enemies, we need to understand issues from another person’s point of view and be prepared to compromise in order to win peace. And of course there can never be peace without justice. For all the conflicts around the world right now, it can be easy to assume that peace and reconciliation are elusive. The Good Friday agreement illustrates the way that costly and courageous leadership continues to be the best way forward, in spite of the difficulties.
You are to be found wherever justice is sought
Be with and bless all who work for truth and reconciliation
Make us more aware of the hard work of speaking truth to power
Of holding on to a vision of your peace.
So make us all ambassadors of your love and compassion