Catholic and Protestants combine against violence in Northern Ireland

By staff writers
March 9, 2009

Christians from different backgrounds came together to pray last night at the site of the brutal killing of two soldiers in Northern Ireland. Their message was that there must be no return to sectarian violence in the province.

The murder has been condemned by parties on all sides. Four other people, including two pizza delivery men, one of whom is Polish, were injured in the attack on 7 March 2009.

One of the two soldiers killed was from the West Midlands of England, the other from the London area.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also visited the Massareene army barracks where the two men were killed by the Real IRA faction at the weekend.

Mr Brown was accompanied by Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde – who had warned last week that there was a significant danger from around 100 hardened paramilitaries operating through several networks.

At the time a Sinn Fein representative had dismissed this suggestion.

The two young soldiers were the first to be murdered in Northern Ireland in 12 years. Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick was killed by an IRA sniper in 1997.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 this morning, British evangelical leader the Rev Joel Edwards, a former director of the Evangelical Alliance who is now International Director of anti-poverty initiative Micah Challenge, paid tribute to those who had got the Northern Ireland peace process so far.

He said that “remedial action” would be needed in the immediate situation, but in the long run “people of peace” working across political, religious and cultural divides would continue to need to make the process work.

Catholic and Protestants in the province are pledging to use this “wake up call” to renew efforts to build for change and to ensure that the small minority who wish to derail the settlement do not succeed.

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