Journey from Troubles to peace requires forgiveness, says priest

Journey from Troubles to peace requires forgiveness, says priest Fr Martin Magill

Forgiveness is key to overcoming the violent legacy of Northern Ireland’s past, a well-known ecumenical priest has said.

Speaking ahead of a Belfast-based festival aimed to create peace in the country, Fr Martin Magill of St John’s Parish on the Falls Road told The Irish Catholic that over the past few decades “so much hurt through the bloodshed and the violence” during the Troubles has meant that the city must go on a journey of forgiveness. He added that religion has a “contribution” to make in addressing this divisive historical and ongoing issue.

Now in its seventh year, The 4 Corners Festival which runs from January 30 to February 10 seeks to inspire people from Belfast and is designed to entice people out of their own corners of the city and into new places where they will encounter new perspectives and new ideas.


At the end of the festival, people will be called towards creating a forgiving city, which Fr Martin believes could make “a huge difference in individuals’ lives and indeed for us as a society”.

He added that this theme is particularly pertinent for the city of Belfast given the severity of conflict and fear present there during the Troubles.

“It was a city in which people kept to their own corners because they would have felt safe there and it made sense at the time of the Troubles actually when there was mayhem and chaos and terror all over the city,” Fr Martin said, pointing out that it’s now time to overcome this.

He added that the recent security alerts in Belfast this week show how far we still have to go in our journey of reconciliation.

“The vast majority of people do not want or support these inconveniences and local disruption that’s being caused. But it’s a reminder that we’ve quite a bit to go on our journey to building peace and reconciliation.”