Good Friday

Every year when it comes to Good Friday a mixture of emotions run through me. It’s a sombre day for Christianity as reflections of the suffering of a young man are borne out through tradition and service. For me too, I have memories of a morning spent in Pjs, in a rented house in Magherafelt, watching avidly with my close friends, from a variety of faiths and backgrounds, who were all working in community development and peacebuilding, as the events of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement unfolded.

That morning brought a sense of hope, of renewal, of resolution and of progress. I remember celebrating with work colleagues, who joined us in our rented house, to watch as the announcements were made. I remember wine being opened despite the early hour. And I remember a sense that something new and better was ahead of us all.

This morning as I rushed to go to work, in a house full of school goers who were lying in and enjoying the first day of the Easter Holidays, I rushed about getting ready for this weekend’s visitors, leaving cleaning instructions and orders for housework to be done in my absence. I checked my phone and saw on Facebook that friends were posting about feeling ‘shock, numb, outrage…and I frantically searched to see what had caused this reaction. Strong, capable, courageous and accepting Lyra McKee had been shot dead while doing her job on the streets on my hometown.

A rapid scramble for the TV remote and I sat and watched in horror as the events of the night before were recounted and explained by both regional and national broadcasters.

Today, Good Friday, 21 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement we watch the cars burn in the streets, we hear of petrol bombs being thrown, and we learn of a promising life cut short in its prime and the police and politicians talk about senseless mindless murder. Have we moved on at all?

There are no answers in this blog, I have no answers today. All I have is an aching heart, a sense of fear and a sense that those who dare to play politics with the international agreement that was signed 21 years ago today, to provide a hopeful brighter future for us all in this small corner of the world should realise today that playing with it and tinkering around the structure and agreements that were made, destabilises peace, destabilises society and in that destabilisation hatred, and violence are all too easily stoked.