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Jerusalem at the Millennium: The City of Unfulfilled Expectations

Conflict Resolution, Genetics, and Alchemy - The Evolution of Conflict Transmutation

The Corrymeela Community: 'The Hill of Hope' or an Illusion?

The Phenomenon of Road Rage: Complexities, Discrepancies, and Opportunities for CR Analysis

Indian Discomfort: A Key to Conflict Avoidance

Book Review: Women and Peacebuilding

New publications of interest

OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution

The Corrymeela Community: 'The Hill of Hope' or an Illusion?

By Ted Cichon

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We are called to be peacemakers, not by some movement of the moment, but by our Lord Jesus.(1)

Corrymeela is people of all ages and Christian traditions, who, individually and together are committed to the healing of Social, Religious and Political divisions that exist in Northern Ireland and throughout the World. www.corrymeela.org


The name Corrymeela literally means, "the hill of harmony," (hereafter also referred to as the Community). From the outset, it should be noted that an ecumenical organisation in a peaceful context differs from one in the circumstances of conflict or war. Therefore, the concept of hope alone in this study will have different connotations. In other words, the hope for peace and reconciliation in a broad or global context has rather diffuse ramifications. There are currently some thirty conflicts in progress on the globe, but no major world war. By way of contrast, ecumenical activity in a localised and conflictual situation, such as in Northern Ireland, is expected to have more specific objectives. Corrymeela's philosophy is one of peace and reconciliation, and secular and religious bodies mostly support this.

However, this paper also argues that peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland are fundamentally political as well as collective aspirations. Such ideals require a significant degree of compromise and reconciliation. In essence, it is safe to say they are the concerns of a secular polity. No matter how much the religious labels of Protestantism and Catholicism are used in daily discourse, peace and pluralism need to be embraced by the collective membership of the six counties of Northern Ireland before any religious organisation can effectively reach the people with its Christian message. Hence, this paper is an evaluative one, as it examines not only the effectiveness of the Corrymeela Community, but also the concept of ecumenism as it is found in this environment. In order to perform such a balanced assessment, it is useful to consider several perspectives and variables. For instance, this study employs a theoretical analysis of pluralism to test or measure the political fundamentals of the situation in Northern Ireland. Thus, the assumption here will be that a theoretical blueprint of pluralism is considered an ideal arrangement. At the same time, empirical data such as Corrymeela's organisational structure, aims, and activities provide the materials for further theoretical perspectives, in particular an inspection of different or comparative mobility capacities experienced by different groups.

The above would be incomplete without some discussion of the limitations that can ultimately determine how active or passive a role a community such as Corrymeela can play in Northern Ireland politics. This paper draws upon other analyses that are indicators of demographic change, changing relations between Church and State, changes in the attitudes of Catholics in the Republic of Ireland, and the impact of the European Union (EU) membership. However, a concept that is germane to this paper is that of anti-Catholicism. I have relied on the work of Brewer and Higgins who provide a valuable analysis and explanation in their treatment of this often neglected piece in the conflict's theological complexity. Thus, it is treated as another variable, which in turn is correlated with our assessment of Corrymeela as an actor.

Moreover, at the time of writing, the main issue was centred on the problem of paramilitary decommissioning of weapons, in order to pave the way for a power-sharing cabinet in Stormont. Thus, a resolution is about 'political peace' not just religious peace.(2) The conflict has often been reported as a purely sectarian conflict. This image has been widely created by the media, but is not accurate. The problem that undermines the above situation is that religious identity in Northern Ireland is also an ethnic identity, which is ultimately transferred to a political identity. This affects adherents of the main confessions, as well as nonadherents.

By way of contrast, during the Two World Wars, both opposing armed forces were composed of Christians. Catholics and Protestants were part of the allied forces in World War I, as they were in the opposing German side. Similarly, in World War II, there existed a situation where Catholics and Protestants fought together, in the respective forces (excluding Soviet and Japanese forces). In brief, the ultimate aim for all those involved in the conflicts was peace after victory. Yet, after World War I, churchmen such as Archbishop Nathan Söderblom wrote:

During the war Christians and servants of the Church in the separate countries took part in national self-adoration in a way that we should like to delete from the pages of history.(3)

Therefore, ecumenism in a relatively peaceful Irish Republic differs from that in the North. Put another way, whether it is an active or a passive actor, the ecumenical movement in Ulster has a political relationship in this conflictual environment. For instance, State-Protestant Church relations in the Republic are in a spirit of cooperation, such as generous funding of Protestant schools.(4) Moreover, the Protestants in the Republic consider themselves Irish and having an Irish identity(5) whereas, in the context of the Republic, it will have far less of a political characteristic. Nevertheless, the significance of the actions of those involved in the ecumenical organisation found in the Corrymeela Community does not necessarily lay in their chances of success or their probability of failure. Rather, such actions taken by men and women also mean representing churches and institutional Christendom -- at least the neutral part of it. In other words, given the symbiotic nature that distinguishes the relationship between Church and State, Corrymeela's actions express a concern, recognition, however imprecise, of Christian responsibilities for the actions of a civil society. A civil society has not yet matured in Ulster because, as much as the conflict between Catholics and Protestants is viewed by some as a religious conflict, it a political struggle territorially symbolised by either the Union Jack or the Republican tricolour. In this sense, it is an example of Söderblom's 'national self-adoration.' Christianity, per se, is universally symbolised by the Holy Cross and the altar, whether they are in a Protestant church or a Catholic church.

Previous Peace Movements in Northern Ireland

The Peace People was a peace movement founded in 1976 by Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan, and Cairan McKeown, who were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. Initially, the movement was known for its large rallies in Belfast and other centres in Northern Ireland. It defined its aim as "non-violent movement towards a just and peaceful society."(6) Some of the movement's activities were similar to those of the Corrymeela Community. These activities had a strong emphasis on youth work, including summer camps for mixed religious groups (see Corrymeela's programme below), as well as its own forum (the Peace Assembly) to debate current social and political issues.(7) As Flackes notes, on the political side, the movement had been active in "campaigning for reform of emergency legislation and in opposing the secrecy of the Anglo-Irish talks." Moreover, its leaders were critical of established politicians, but the latter paid little attention to the movement.(8) It is suggested here, that it is often the case where politicians dismiss the vox populi and prefer to maintain the status quo. Nevertheless, after 1980 serious internal dissension led to the movement's executive members pursuing their separate careers.(9)

It is useful here to cite Bardon's acknowledgment of the Peace People's efforts:

[G]roups such as the Women Together and Protestant and Catholic Encounter had been working hard to promote reconciliation, but this new group captured the imagination of Northern Ireland people to an extent that others previously had not.(10)

Moreover, Bardon also notes the extent of the support the movement attracted, such as crowds in excess of twenty thousand people at peace rallies in Belfast and Derry in the latter part of 1976.(11) Despite the initial support and the acclaim the movement won across the world, "[I]n such a deeply divided society...the Peace People found it difficult to sustain widespread support."(12) Thus, with factors such as the lack of support, attacks on the movement by loyalists and republicans alike, lack of recognition by governmental institutions, and internal dissension, the Peace People's raison d'être evaporated. Moreover, in the latter instance, it can be argued the above movement lacked sustained mobility, organisation, and unity. Certainly, it lacked the capability of mobilisation as seen in political parties. To add to this, it incurred the hostility of minority groups who wished to perpetuate the culture of violence.

Finally, any mobilisation of peace movements or groups seems to be limited to small numbers of individuals. Small groups, such as Families Against Intimidation and Terror (FAIT), have catalogued a detailed report of paramilitary crime since the Good Friday Agreement.(13)5 Moreover, FAIT had earlier urged all political parties to sign a new anti-violence charter, following weeks of bloodshed, and to build upon the Mitchell Principles.(14) Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see a supra-national contribution to the peace initiative. For instance, the EU's first phase of funding of 900 peace projects is noted by its allocation of £10 million from its peace and reconciliation programme.(15)

The Corrymeela Community: Background information

Ray Davey is considered to be the founder of the Community and his experiences during World War II encouraged him to seek new ways to deal constructively with conflict situations and to develop new relationships between "traditional enemies."(16) The 1960s were viewed by many as a time of change reflecting a new mood of optimism in Europe.

While students throughout the world brought about their own form of activism (for instance, protest against the Vietnam war), students in Northern Ireland from Roman Catholic and Protestant homes "were discovering each others' values and prejudices in quite an unprecedented way." (17) In brief, there were polarities in these times. Religious communities associated with Queen's University were fostering a new openness and holistic approach to life.(18) At the same time, political societies were exploring a "New Ireland," while the Reverend Ian Paisley was preaching on the theme of "Tickets For Hell and Where They Are Bought."(19)

However, the experiences of the Iona Community in Scotland and the Agape Community in Northern Italy inspired Ray Davey to establish a new approach to the challenge.(20) It is within this context, and primarily focused upon the Presbyterian Chaplaincy at Queen's University, that in 1965 the Corrymeela Community was born.(21) Moreover, before the 'Troubles' erupted, the Community felt an anxiety of providing "an opportunity for the churches of Northern Ireland to rediscover the concept of community."(22)

The early aims of the Community.

At the time of the creation of the Community certain core aims were identified. For the purposes of this study, I have enumerated those aims that are relevant to the aspect of the Northern Ireland conflict. These changed and developed over time:

  • (a) To help train Christian laymen/women to play a responsible part in society and the Church.
  • (b) Through work camps, to bring crafts-people and voluntary workers in a realistic Christian fellowship.
  • (c) To provide a meeting point for reconciliation work in the wider community and in Church life.(23)

Current Aims of the Community

The following aims are an abridged list, but at the same time it provides evidence of how the Community's work is responding to the ongoing situation in Northern Ireland:

  • To be a sign and a symbol in a divided society that Protestant and Catholic can share together in a common witness to Christ who transcends our divisions and leads us to a larger vision of reconciliation; to be a question mark to the existing structures of our churches in Ireland.
  • (b) To provide opportunities for people from all sections of our society and support them through advocacy and work in order to dispel ignorance, prejudice and fear and to develop new relationships of mutual respect, trust and co-operation [sic].
  • (c) To stand beside all victims of suffering and injustice in our society and support them through advocacy and work for social change; to encourage new initiatives in economic, social, cultural, educational and political spheres, in the search for a more just society.
  • (d) To nourish a healing community in diverse and imaginative ways so that we might find freedom from the enmities and bitterness in which we are trapped by our historic conflicts.(24)

In brief, it can be said the Community aspires to resocialise its younger age group by interactive activities between Catholics and Protestants.

The Central Role of Reconciliation

The Community never set out to be a community relations agency or to focus solely upon the religious/political divisions in the North of Ireland. As John Morrow (Leader of the Corrymeela Community from 1980-1993) wrote in his short pamphlet "The Corrymeela Community":

The work of reconciliation can only be understood within the concrete context in which we live and work. This is not the place for a treatise on Irish history,(25) but it is essential to understand the kind of divided society, which we have inherited, if the witness of Corrymeela is to make sense. There are an overlapping series of dimensions to the conflict which include cultural aspects like British or Irish identity, religious tradition (Protestant or Catholic), social or economic opportunity etc. [sic]. It is not possible to limit our work to even these dimensions and any approach to the Christian understanding of reconciliation must take on board relationships between people of all ages, disabled and able-bodied, from both sexes, from different social classes, of conservative and liberal temperaments and the wider issues of race, other religions, or no religion. Peace is indivisible and although we have to work in particular concrete contexts, we do not exclude wider international issues and contacts and any issues which bear on our common humanity. Indeed, it is often only when some of the intractable local divisions are put in this wider setting of the search for a fuller humanity that significant change begins to happen.(26)

Moreover, the Members of the Corrymeela Community "are always encouraged to live out their commitment to reconciliation work within their own local situation and circumstances."(27)9 This means involvement within local churches, work places, community centres, schools, youth centres, and political parties. In the latter instance, the Community has attempted initiatives that seek to explore the nature of conflict and to establish mediation networks, such as projects like the "Faith and Politics Group."(28)

Other Aspects of the Community's Aims

The area of Family and Community Work was one of the first strands of programme work to evolve and develop. However, over the years, a wide variety of programmes have also been developed that "seek to explore the explicit connections between Christian faith and contemporary issues."(29) By this, the Community claims the dimension of Christian education, an area that underpins all areas of programme work and the wider life of the Community. In brief, the Community sees itself as an opportunity for ecumenical education.

Other Community programmes are focused on the individual and the significance of the 'person,' and not as a 'client.' Put another way, it is apparent how Corrymeela endeavours to foster the maximisation of an individual's potential in the broader community. These aims are extended to youth and families. However, the Community stresses this area of work is not primarily, "about 'cross-community contact' encounters."(30) Furthermore, the Community also emphasises its work is holistic, since it recognises the inter-relation between 'man' and 'woman,' between 'Catholic' and 'Protestant. As a core value and principle, "Reconciliation is a much broader concept than merely bringing two traditions together."(31) Thus, Corrymeela's work is not about "Prejudice Reduction and Conflict Resolution."(32) It is, however, "about understanding personal prejudices, recognising them in future and trying to change behaviour or responses accordingly."(33)

Organisational Structure of the Corrymeela Community

For the purposes of this study, the Community is considered to be a nongovernmental organisation (NGO). It is comprised of a core group of 178 Full Members and 15 individuals who are Provisional Members.(34) The administrative section is based in Belfast and the personnel there include the Leader of the Community, the Financial Administrator, the Appeals Officer, Secretarial Staff, and the Programme Field Workers. In addition, the Community has Volunteers and a body of "Friends of Corrymeela," numbering over 2,300 people from around the world who pledge their support to Corrymeela's work by giving a donation of at least £10 per year (current subscription).(35) Moreover, the Community has Cell Groups that are aimed at providing an opportunity for interested individuals to maintain their links with the Community and its work in their own setting.(36)

At Knocklayd and Ballycastle, in County Antrim (also referred to as the Ballycastle Centre), the Community has three residential units for use by groups that can collectively accommodate a maximum of 120 people during any one period. A branch of the Community exists in London and it is known as the Corrymeela Link. There is another unit called "Cedar Haven" for use by individuals/families under stress and intimidation.(37) The following is a brief statistical presentation of the Community's membership as well as a profile summary. Out of the 178 Members, the total number of Protestants is 118 and the total number of Roman Catholics is 60.

In simplified terms, this means a ratio of almost two-to-one. Similarly, in terms of gender, Protestant members nearly double Roman Catholic male and female members. (38)

Maintaining the peace message and an evaluation

The Corrymeela Community is recognised as a charity by the Inland Revenue Department of the UK. As noted above, it is mainly financed by public subscription and is largely dependent on donations. However, there is another dimension to this. Certainly, it is clear that its administrative functions and the activities of promoting the ideals of peace and reconciliation incur financial obligations. Moreover, it is of note how the Community's efforts to finance itself extend to marketing strategies. For instance, the Community's magazine Connections, published three times a year, is accompanied by incentives to introduce others as subscribers to Corrymeela's aims. These incentives include free gifts, which are usually in the form of books or other literature relating to religious or political matters.

Moreover, the Connections magazine contains articles relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland, conflicts in other parts of the world, ecclesiastical references, and anecdotal accounts. While this dissemination of information may be commendable, it is confined to a limited number of people. That is, individuals who are either directly or indirectly associated with the Community. It is suggested here, a fair proportion of the above information is available through other outlets and mediums. In the case of anecdotal evidence, it is widespread in Northern Ireland whenever the subject of the 'Troubles' arises. Nonetheless, it must be borne in mind that Corrymeela does offer the bereaved a place of solace, counselling, and comfort. Corrymeela therefore serves as a place for healing of grief, both individually and collectively.

At the same time, it should also be noted, the Community is:

A dispersed community of people of all ages and Christian traditions who, individually and together, are committed to the healing of social, religious and political divisions in Northern Ireland and throughout the world.(39)(Emphasis added).

In the latter instance, it can be argued that, while on the one hand, the quest for world peace is a universal Christian aspiration, on the other, such an aim may dilute or weaken the Community's energies to be more proactive in the context of Northern Ireland's conflict. That is, a focus on world peace is an easy way to lose sight of a local conflict. Moreover, it can be argued that the Community's mission is broad, rather than a sharper focus that could include political lobbying to change the political process in Ulster. This proposition is verified when Trevor Williams, Leader of the Corrymeela Community in Belfast admits:

What we do would not be described as lobbying. We have connections and build relationships with political parties and government and seek to influence their opinions and their work by sharing with them who we are and the work we are doing. I suspect that Corrymeela's 'lobbying' of government will need to be much more proactive in the very near future as there will be many other pressing demands on limited resources.(40)

Therefore, if we return to the above notion of marketing strategies engaged by the Corrymeela Community, it can be argued that this organisation attempts to prove or demonstrate its professionalism to attract potential donors to its cause. In any event, it is fair to say 'marketing' is an economic necessity for Corrymeela, like other NGOs, are able to continue with their causes. Moreover, the reasons for such strategies may well lie in the fact that it lacks the mobilisation needed to exert an influence on the political process. In other words, unlike a major political party, the Corrymeela Community is limited in working toward any form of power or, as an organisation, in galvanising a unity of interest and opinion in Northern Irish society. In the latter instance, an example of popular opinion was reflected by a majority vote of 71% for peace in the May 22, 1998 referendum. Thus, it can be said this referendum was an expression of the Irish people at grass roots level, and a process of democratisation.

During this decisive period in the peace process, it seems that there was an absence of leadership at the grassroots level that could propel a peace movement into prominence. Strong leadership, such as that exemplified by the late Martin Luther King, Jr. in the American experience, could take a peace movement to a position where a culture of peace and reconciliation could influence the collective consciousness. Yet, the members of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) were inspired by the success of King's movement. The fact that the protagonists of the Irish peace process were the elite members of various political parties in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, and Britain meant that the task was one of mobilisation in which the constitutional outcomes would reflect the will of the Irish people. Nonetheless, it is a curious phenomenon in that the Northern Ireland referendum of 1998 reflected such a majority vote for peace and change while, at the same time, popular mobilisation, such as mass protest or demonstrations, were noticeably absent.

If we were to compare the above with the size of popular mobilisation by the Peace People in 1976, which more than twenty thousand at a peace rally in Belfast, or the massive participation by the Protestant Ulster Workers' Council General Strike of 1974, then these instances make contemporary popular participation look inert. Situations, such as the clashes at Drumcree during the Orange Order marching season in 1998, were confronting and violent. Yet, it is of note that at the time of writing, other parts of Europe witnessed significant expressions of popular opinion and its mobility (i.e., Spain's demonstrations against Basque terrorist violence and Austrian popular protests against Jörg Haider's far right Freedom Party). The point is the absence of popular mobility in Northern Ireland.

The second reason for Corrymeela's limitations may be the small number of members of the organisation. On the surface, 178 Community Members in a microcosmic environment, such as the six counties of Northern Ireland, may appear impressive. Certainly, there exists the potential for a small organisation to exert pressure so as to influence the government of the day. This also means influencing a political process that can either preserve the status quo or adopt reformist policies. Therefore, an organisation such as the Corrymeela Community needs to be evaluated by comparing it with other NGOs. In the first instance, we can say Corrymeela is a normative-oriented organisation. Furthermore, organizations such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace can also be considered normative-oriented organizations. Two points present themselves here. First, successes of the respective NGOs are varied and difficult to assess in quantifiable terms. Second point for consideration is the respective organisational structure -- which is quantifiable. Corrymeela claims to have 2,300 'Friends' (supporters) from around the world, while Amnesty International has over one million members and supporters in over 150 states and territories.(41) Greenpeace, which began as a movement against nuclear weapons testing in the early 1970s, has moved more into "mainstream political activity and organisational complexity."(42) It does not enlist members, but relies upon donations to finance its cause and its donors are known as "Friends of Greenpeace."

Moreover, it should be also noted, organizations such as Amnesty International and Greenpeace have global familiarity, especially in terms of publicity, but, at the same time, are also dependent on donations. By way of a comparison, Corrymeela does not have the same exposure. It fails to reach the household level of awareness of Amnesty International or Greenpeace when they have lobbied, protested, or confronted parties they consider culpable. Yet, by the same token, the conflict in Northern Ireland has had extensive world wide media coverage, and it has, in a broad sense, reached an international dimension. In the latter instance, two points come to mind: one is the Irish diaspora and two, the Anglo-American diplomatic input during the Peace Process.

A point that may be overlooked in such a study is peace and reconciliation are not exclusive aspirations held only by some NGOs. Similarly, it can be stated in general terms that environmental or human rights issues do not exclusively belong to the above. Therefore, there is a constant plea for peace and reconciliation throughout the globe. Although church hierarchy and clerics may call for peace from the pulpit, formal participation by the people, through ritual and liturgical means, is also a collective activity toward reaching those ideals. Moreover, a demonstration by a group of citizens calling for peace and reconciliation can be either a secular or sacred form of expression of these ideals, but without necessarily being bound by organisational constructs. Christian rituals and liturgy can also take place in the private sphere (at home) and, at the same time, can be considered a basic unit of a church or ecumenical movement. However, such activity in the private sphere may be fragmented, incoherent, and ineffectual. An organisation such as Corrymeela, therefore, acts as a cohesive medium for collective aspirations of peace and reconciliation.

Yet, it must be noted, the Corrymeela Community has received acknowledgment from unexpected quarters, such as the 1997 Niwano Peace Prize from Japan, which is worth £100,000.(43) Moreover, given the magnitude of the task, Corrymeela is still functioning and every impulse toward the peace process has value, bearing in mind how hard it is to change a situation that has existed for a long time. Thus, the above suggests much about its value and contribution. Therefore, the Community needs to continue with its work. At the same time, it needs to continue to grow and expand so the message of peace reaches all levels of Irish society.

In any event, this study is limited in making a comprehensive assessment of Corrymeela, because that would require an extensive participant observation of the Community's activities. Research participation in these activities would include administrative, residential, spiritual, educational, and reconciliatory programmes.

Christian Idealism and Political Realism: An evaluation by examining some inherent problems.

The above is basically a descriptive account supplemented by an evaluative one. It attempted to provide some essential background on the Community and the context of its work. The brief history of the Corrymeela Community crystallizes some of its more important aspects.

The problems of mobility, a secular European Union and Vatican II

There are several problems that present themselves here. First, Corrymeela lacks mobility. This may be because the Community, as an organisation, does not have competing interests. Intrinsically, it does not vie for political power, but rather for the ideals of peace and reconciliation. This is not to say the Community cannot have an influence on the political process. However, its ecumenical characteristics restrain mobility in the political sense. Political parties, such as the Alliance Party (AP) which prides itself on giving priority to attracting support from both sides of the community,(44) have demonstrated a considerable degree of mobility. For instance, in its first electoral test, the May 1973 district council elections, AP got 13.6% of the vote.(45) Its share of the poll in the 1983 Westminster elections fell to 8%.(46) In spite of the AP's varied electoral fortunes, its policy of shared government at all levels must be noted. In a sense, it mirrors the sacred notion of ecumenism in the profane sphere, because the AP has an equal number of Protestants and Catholics in its membership.

The other minor political party that has demonstrated a reasonable degree of mobility is the Social Democratic Labour Party (SDLP). It is the party that speaks for the majority of Catholics in Northern Ireland. Founded in 1970, it absorbed most of the supporters of the old Nationalist Party, National Democratic Party, and Republican Labour Party and served to weaken the appeal of the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP).(47)However, it is interesting to note, the AP absorbed those who had formerly backed the NILP.(48) In brief, these loose partisan associations show Labour or left of centre political orientations to be weak if not ineffectual in Northern Irish politics. Yet, the AP and SDLP are considered moderate, and their membership is mostly made up of the middle-class stratum. Be that as it may, the SDLP withdrew from the Stormont government in July 1971 in protest against the institutions of government. The imposition of direct rule from Westminster in 1972, with the suspension of Stormont, gave the SDLP new opportunities to propose new forms of government.

It should also be noted that the formation of the SDLP had on its agenda cooperation with the Protestants, in creating a democratic society, after defeating the clerical candidate.(49) As Wilson asserts, the SDLP wanted "a party without the old clerical links and so did the people."(50) Yet in 1996, 12 members, of whom three, Smyth, Paisley, and McCrea were Protestant clergymen, represented nationalists and unionists in Westminster.(51)Such is the contrast between the two political camps but, it must be stated, Protestants were in 1995 discussing the severing of links between their religious Orange Order and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).(52)

A comparative approach also reveals significant, if not intriguing, political behaviour. In this instance, the SDLP illustrates a coalition of competing interests: the Catholic Church and secular politicians. We are reminded of the negotiations between Clonard Monastery cleric Father Reid, John Hume (SDLP), and Gerry Adams (SF) to procure a peace process. Thus, it can be said the above was a constructive input by the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland. However, the emergence of Sinn Féin in 1983 pushed the SDLP "into the ambit of the clergy again whether they wished it or not and the clergy into the ambit of the SDLP."(53) After the Maze prison hunger strikes by republican inmates in the early 1980s, Sinn Féin was rising to challenge this position, and at one period in the following years Sinn Féin got 43% of the Catholic vote. There was practical cooperation between the Catholic clergy and the SDLP to adopt an increasingly hostile attitude toward Sinn Féin should the latter become the majority leader of the Catholics.(54) But, Wilson makes a point when he argues:

Neither the SDLP, the two governments [Dublin and London] nor the churches recognised that republicans had a right to negotiate for anyone, even if mandated to do so by a substantial popular vote.

Yet, Sinn Féin acknowledged the need for accommodation of the Unionists, if there was to be a peace process, which in turn necessitated all party talks. In brief, the Nationalists mobilised themselves in the political struggle by constitutional means. Thus the above is a prelude to our discussion on pluralism, but it also demonstrates manoeuvring by the Catholic Church, party mobility, and counter-mobility measures. Connolly's claim that a "new grouping can enter into politics in the give and take of pluralism"(55) may be subject to some scrutiny here. Indeed, new political groupings can enter, but at what expense? There is the illusion of democracy because of the various parties' uneven representation at Westminster. Moreover, we need to also consider the elections at local government level, which reflect Nationalist representation. However, if members of the SDLP became leading members of Catholic Church bodies, as Wilson claims,(56) it demonstrated the Catholic Church's position as inconsistent and averse to pluralism. Republicans and socialists were excluded by the coalition discussed above. It also demonstrated the Church's intolerance of politics at the left of centre. In spite of its name, the SDLP is a moderate political party, with the Catholic Church's tacit approval. Lastly, it also demonstrates an erosion of the Church's power, while highlighting the Catholic Church's attempt to hold onto its authority in a society that is moving increasingly toward secularism.

Nevertheless, the point that is of note here is the capabilities of smaller parties (not associated with paramilitaries) to mobilise themselves in the face of, for example, the UUP, the largest political entity in Northern Ireland, which provided government at Stormont since 1921. Put another way, the UUP held the monopoly on power since partition. Thus it follows, another problem inherent in the Irish conflict is pluralism. Rather, it is the lack of pluralism, notably religious pluralism, which should also be translated into political pluralism. In the former instance, there is little crossover membership or inclusiveness. Put simply, one group of brethren go to one church and another group go to another church. The Corrymeela Community, however, enables a crossover of membership. In brief, it can be argued that Northern Ireland has experienced pseudo-pluralism and a pseudo-democracy.

If we are to be serious about the concept of democracy as a virtuous arrangement in the context of this discussion, then the situation in Ulster is a repeated pronouncement of the "tyranny of the majority" under Unionist rule. Moreover, it should also be borne in mind that partition created a minority Catholic population in the six counties. Thus, in other words, a minority existed that lacked political representation, an issue that was compounded by the absence of a universal franchise and gerrymandering. As Flackes points out:

The Unionists held around forty of the fifty-two seats in the Northern Ireland House of Commons...and many Unionist MPs had never had to fight an election.(57)

The above does not reflect a democratic process.

However, divisions within the Unionists began to appear during the prime ministership of Terence O'Neill (1963-9) and more so when the parliament in Stormont was suspended in 1972. In brief, the UUP was forced into a combination with smaller Unionist parties. Although the Unionists were a coalition made up of left and right positions in the political spectrum, this did not reflect a true pluralistic phenomenon. Even though some Unionists backed the power-sharing policy of Westminster, the inclusion of the SDLP and the Alliance Party in the Executive omitted one vital ingredient in a democratic process, that is, the lack of an effective parliamentary opposition.

A lack of parliamentary opposition in a political, intellectual, ethical, and philosophical context must surely tempt us to challenge the historical status quo of a democratic deficit. Inadvertently, this argument embraces some concepts expressed in 'theories of the state.' Moreover, according to Dunleavy and O'Leary, "all pluralists are hostile to centralized states."(58) In a sense, there is a paradox here because, while a number of Unionists supported a Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont, the majority who supported the maintenance of the links with the United Kingdom inadvertently maintained this by precipitating direct rule. In other words, direct rule from Westminster meant a centralised government. Moreover, if we view the general strike by the Ulster Workers' Council as a means to sabotage the creation of a power-sharing Executive, then such activity further precludes pluralism. Another aspect of this argument asserting pseudo-pluralism and pseudo-democracy is proportional representation had been abolished since 1922. When it was reintroduced in 1973, Bardon notes, "in spite of the kaleidoscope of party labels, Unionist candidates performed impressively in local government elections."(59) Although in the recent developments of establishing a power-sharing Executive (in 1999), there is an absence of an opposition, as witnessed in those liberal democracies that are based on two major parties competing at elections to form a government.

The above issue requires further clarification. Pluralism, defined by Connolly, is:

An ideology which does not accept any single account as the ideal but which itself functions in a plurality of ways. It provides an alternative to the competing ideologies of communalism and individualism, both defective in their purest form, as recipes for the good life. There is no single purpose or good that deserves the highest support of all rational people. Instead there is a plurality of goods, each capable of rational support and all appropriately included as options for individual choice (free choice itself being one). Pluralism fosters stability without depending too heavily on direct state coercion or communal unity. New groupings, formed perhaps by changes in economic position or in generational experience, can enter into politics and shift the balance of power in the give and take of pluralism.
Pluralism is variously defined as an ideal of the good life; as a characterization of politics in western, capitalistic democracies; as a theory of ethics relevant to the politics of liberal societies; and as a doctriner [sic] of cultural diversity that endorses neither a relativist nor a monist assessment of alternative cultures. It is possible to endorse any one of these views without endorsing all the others, but most 'pluralists' will endorse several of them.(60)

The choice of the above definition or version of pluralism is the one that is adopted in the discussion below.

Several issues arise with Connolly's definition when applied to the Northern Ireland conflict. First, Connolly's theoretical assertion that "there is no single purpose or good that deserves the highest support of all rational people," philosophically contradicts not only Corrymeela's ethos, but also that of the wider community in Northern Ireland. This however, is not our argument here. Surely, peace and reconciliation deserve the highest support. At the same time, under this definition, the paramilitary organizations and their ideologies cannot claim to be the ideal. Neither are the factions' ends (unionism or republicanism), which they seek to achieve coercively.

In view of the evidence presented thus far, ecumenism cannot foster pluralism either. For, in spite of idealistic rhetoric by the Churches, the Catholic Church in particular has developed a moral ambivalence. It uses overtly religious language when addressing the faithful, but when it addresses the nation it employs the religiously neutral language of natural law.(61) As McShane argues in the American experience, it is a language suited to the political arena.(62) It seems to be a parallel posture assumed by the Church in Northern Ireland. This also has resonance with O'Hagan's thesis, that Irish Catholicism and Irish republicanism do not complement each other. In other words, Irish Catholicism is ideologically and historically more comfortable with the authoritative position of the United Kingdom. We witnessed a similar sentiment echoed in an earlier discussion.(63)

Moreover, in previous studies, I argued that the position of the Catholic Church is highly ambiguous. This is evident in the area of the ecumenical movement. Therefore, although Vatican II reduced the motive for theological intolerance toward other religions, it is acutely aware of the challenges of pluralism. Carroll, whom McShane cites to explain the above, gives the reasons for this:

Perceiving that a pluralist environment demanded both civil tolerance and theological intolerance, he [Carroll] was convinced that any church that lacked a lively sense of uniqueness and its necessary role in securing human salvation would fail in the religious market-place.(64)

Therefore, it can be argued that the above position by the Catholic Church remains unchanged. To be fair, other denominations also claim their uniqueness. Moreover, in the case of the Corrymeela Community, the Catholic membership is almost half of its Protestant counterparts, but the reason for this is unclear. In any event, Corrymeela has an ethos of inclusion.

From a quantitative perspective, there is no apparent difficulty in establishing Corrymeela's adherents. Their political identity is neutral. It seems that scholars, such as Morrow, struggle with establishing a reliable estimate of denominational adherents in Northern Ireland. For instance, his estimates of the province's brethren who maintain a connection with their church are as high as high as 80%.(65) This would suggest citizens in the Republic are less likely to look upon the church as a legally protected repository of national or ethnic identity. Thus, compared with their Catholic counterparts, Morrow's estimates would suggest the converse situation in the North. Morrow's estimates are questioned here, as the evidence points toward a decrease in church attendance and a more secularised Irish society. Moreover, there is another influence to be considered here. The Catholic Church has, in effect, suppressed the ethnicity of nationalist Catholics and subtly advocated full Catholic incorporation in a unionist life, that is, the United Kingdom.(66) Does this position foster pluralism in an increasingly multicultural arrangement in the British Isles?

Another reality, under the rubric of pluralism, that needs to be considered is the impact of the EU. As noted above, both Ireland and Northern Ireland (as part of the UK) are EU members. As the EU's regulations allow the free movement of people, capital, and labour, there is a spill over effect allowing the free movement of secular ideas. For instance, liberal ideas and practices, such as those particularly witnessed in the Netherlands and elsewhere in the EU, are bound to affect attitudes within the UK. Moreover, modern technology, such as the Internet, facilitates the importation and exchange of ideas. At the same time, the EU by its very nature promotes cultural diversification. Such an arrangement also fosters a spirit of voluntarism. In brief, the Church views a pluralistic and consequently a secularist environment as one that offers the ultimate challenge of the freedom not to believe.

As a consequence of the above, it is possible to examine several aspects of the Irish (north and south) membership in a wider 'community,' the EU. The first point that needs to be noted is the rise of the Irish economy from the 1970s until the present day. In brief, Ireland lagged behind other European states that experienced economic miracles in the post-war years. It is fair to say, the European counterparts that experienced economic growth and prosperity also experienced changes in their respective societies. Those years witnessed a rise in material wealth among the middle-income earners. Moreover, as Ireland gained more economic prosperity, it became more of a part of Europe by catching up with European social trends. For instance, the feminisation of the labour market is but one such feature. Therefore, for our purposes, the above hold the link to several phenomena that have altered the structure of Irish society. It is important here to discuss these changes that should, in theory at least, counter ignorance and prejudices towards Catholicism in Ireland.

The deliberations of Vatican II included Humanae Vitae that went to the core of the issues of marriage and sex. Issues such as abortion, divorce, and birth control had prominence and controversy. Although the lack of the Second Council's impact on Irish society has been alluded to above, demographic evidence reveals a distinct shift to a secular approach in matters of family planning. In brief, the agrarian structure with implications for the institution of marriage has become weakened.(67) Demographic trends show the following features: Decreased fertility and postponement of first and subsequent births; a rise in childlessness; lower marriage rates; higher levels of cohabitation; increased divorce rates; increased life expectancy; and a rising trend in births outside marriage.(68) Since the abolition of the Marriage Bar in 1974, maternal choices now may reflect decisions by mothers (and consequently couples) based on whether children are an asset or a cost.(69) As Drew concludes, "Ireland has the lowest marriage rate in the world; it is strange for a 'Catholic' nation."(70)

Although the Republic does not acknowledge a divorce rate, as figures are unavailable, Drew estimates there were 4,404 divorced persons in Ireland in 1996. Moreover, according to Drew, the Protestant Church of Ireland not so much objected to the referendum on the above issue, but protested about several members of the current Irish Dáil. That is, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the Finance Minister, Charlie McCreevy, cohabiting with women while remaining married to their previous spouses. Another aspect is that of abortion. Northern Ireland did not adopt the abortion laws of the rest of the United Kingdom.(71)

On the basis of the above, a significant move away from the teaching of the Catholic Church in matters considered sacred, such as the institution of the family, is indicated here. Since 1974, when the Marriage Bar was abolished, Irish women now experience a higher level of financial independence. Hence, women in Ireland have more choices about deciding their destinies. Yet, as Hill argues, the Irish bishops' intolerance of civil and religious liberties remain because they still view the Protestants as being "in error."(72) It seems there exists persistence in Catholic clergy attitudes, which may be viewed as stereotyping. When viewed by Protestants in Northern Ireland, Hill maintains, "this attitude of the Catholic bishops has been singled out over and over as a major obstacle to a united Ireland."(73) Addressing the Family Planning Bill, the Church of Ireland declared that people cannot be legislated into sexual morality. In spite of this, Catholic Irish bishops have pressed for civil laws to reinforce canon law even as they reject the notion of the 'confessional state' and promise to protect the civil and religious liberties of Protestants.(74) In a sense, the Catholic Church in Ireland has to contend with two sets of contemporary forces. On the one hand, there are the changing attitudes and practices among its own Catholic brethren in a modernised and secularised society, and on the other, the notion of difference or inequality, which the Catholic Church perceives in the Protestant confessions.

However, it should be noted, there has been a significant trend in Northern Ireland where an increase is observed in the number of households that do not offer a religious classification. Moreover, according to the Continuous Household Survey conducted in 1988 and again in 1998/99, there has been a minimal change in the number of mixed marriages in the households surveyed.(75) Yet, according to the same survey, the number of 'same religion' households (that is both partners), shows a decrease of 13%. Although it is noted that these are not reliable figures, it is reasonable to suspect that there is a steady increase in mixed marriages (Catholics and Protestants). Similarly, church attendance by Catholics and Protestants, as surveyed by the same organisation, shows decreases of 13% and 5%, respectively in the years 1998/99 compared with 1992/93.(76)

However, this still remains an incomplete argument and, therefore, a reflection of the multi-faceted aspects of this Irish conflict is required. By keeping this in mind, we are simultaneously analysing the linkage between human behaviour and political behaviour. In brief, we mean the dynamics of collective behaviour, particularly in terms of consensus and dissensus, as well as the concept of accommodation. That is, the accommodation of minority groups in the socio-political environment. Thus, there is a need to examine some theoretical blueprints and how they relate to the political realities of the province.

Theoretical perspectives in evaluating pluralism

Does ecumenism, that is Christian unity, mean consensus, or does it mean agreement? In other words, while there is little argument about Corrymeela's shared objective of peace and reconciliation, the Community is also unified by its belief in the pacifism of Jesus Christ. However, does the philosophy of such a Community run counter to the principles of pluralism? In order to answer these questions, let us look at the work of theorists such as Rescher, Sartori, Smootha, and Figgis.

Defining pluralism and identifying its limitations

Agreement or consensus can prevail among diverse individuals and groups. For instance, although there are some difficulties with the present Peace Process in Northern Ireland, it is fair to say all the conflicting parties reached an agreement, in 1988, that became known as the Good Friday Agreement. As Rescher points out, there can be agreement or disagreement in three main areas: the theoretical/cognitive, which is concerned with agreement or disagreement in matters of belief; the practical/pragmatic, which is concerned with agreement or disagreement with respect to action; and the evaluative/axiological, which is concerned with matters of value(77)

Therefore, according to Rescher's thesis, it can be argued that in a society such as Northern Ireland, there is political disagreement between the unionists and the republicans, as the former group believes in a union with the UK while the republicans believe in a united Ireland. The two groups are also ideologically opposed. However, the reality is also that a majoritarian group (the unionists) exists with a dissenting minority, the republicans. Thus, from a philosophical perspective, Rescher's argument is problematic on the grounds that his central argument is "pluralism: against the demand of consensus."(78) Moreover, Rescher's study is troubled if we are to consider Sartori's claim that:

My reason for dwelling on consensus is that this concept is central not only for the democracy-pluralism context but also -- as I shall now move on to argue -- for the understanding of "community" and, in this connection, of the currently burning issues of multiculturalism, ethnic vindications, xenophobia and, conversely, xeno-acceptance.(79)

Two issues immediately arise here. First, in the context of the Corrymeela Community as an ecumenical 'community,' it encourages and 'practices' a form of consensus by church unity, tolerance, and the common goals of peace and reconciliation. But at the same time, the occupancy by its membership of Catholics and Protestants hinders political dissensus within the organisation. Indeed, this is not the ethos of the Community, but by this 'restraint' the Community may not effectively influence or impact upon any political process in the province. One possible explanation for this is the Community is a physically closed or self-contained environment. Yet, it can also be argued the Community, as an organisation, can be a part of a pluralist arrangement as an actor within civil society. It seems there is a theoretical contradiction here, if we consider Rescher and Sartori's treatises.

Smootha's concept of pluralism

For Smootha, the definition of pluralism is a "continuous, multidimensional phenomenon, of which cultural diversity and social segmentation into corporate groups are the most important."(80)

Moreover, Smootha makes an important distinction when he asserts:

The nonplural society has large sub cultural rather than cultural differences; some degree of social and residential segregation rather than discontinuity; integration through consensus, crosscutting affiliations and balance of power rather than structural segmentation, political domination, economic interdependence, and exploitation; and institutional arrangements for peaceful change rather than fundamental vulnerability to violence and instability.(81)

There are several inconsistencies with Smootha's argument here, but it should be borne in mind that his study is a synthesis of other scholars' works, notably Kuper, van den Berghe, M.G. Smith, and Schermerhorn. For instance, no political party in Northern Ireland has held the balance of power. Rather, there has been political domination by the UUP. Further, from a historical perspective, exploitation was a hallmark of colonialism. Although the British government has stated it has "no selfish, strategic or economic interests in Northern Ireland," (82) in a contemporary sense, the province has seen systematic discrimination in resources. If one considers employment and housing as units of social capital, we can identify or assess the notion of pluralism more accurately. Briefly, there are three strands of pluralism: social, cultural, and structural. For present purposes, we can exclude social pluralism as a reality in Ulster if we concur with Kuper's argument in which he makes the following points:

The dominant group uses its power to derive maximal material benefits, to prevent mobilisation of the subordinate group, and to render ineffective cultural similarities and social bonds that develop with growing contact and industrialisation.(83)

Clearly, the historical survey of Northern Ireland is evidence to support Kuper's assertion in the above. Thus, the empirical data further reinforces his thesis, especially when focusing on the notion of conflict:

[T]here are many conditions conducive to violent conflict including growing domination and discrimination, status incongruity among sections of the subordinate group, or disjunction between rising expectations and dissatisfaction.(84)

Moreover, at the time of writing, institutional arrangements for peaceful change, although fragile, have been put in place, but there still exists a vulnerability to violence and instability. In brief, the concept of pluralism in the context of Northern Ireland is problematic for theorists. One explanation is it does not fit comfortably into any theoretical model. In one debate, van den Berghe emphasises that "stable democracy is compatible with moderate pluralism."(85) The argument here, however, is Ulster's society appears to be pluralistic, but it does not satisfy the criteria for true political pluralism. Certainly, there is cultural pluralism in the province, but not political pluralism. In the former instance, Smootha makes the point:

Theoretically it is expected, that to sustain cultural pluralism it is necessary to maintain separate institutions like schools, churches and neighbourhoods, but why should culturally similar groups remain separate, if not because of racism or ethnocentrism or for perpetuating inequality and domination?(86)

This theoretical exploration is further complicated by the May 22, 1998 referendum that demonstrated direct democracy in practice. However, the above instance of participatory democracy does not effectively control affairs of the province. Rather, the affairs of the province have been controlled by tribal elites representing territorial interests. Therefore, on the basis of the above considerations, ecumenism, in the context of the Corrymeela Community, has ambiguous, if not paradoxical characteristics. The reasons for this assertion are:

  1. By definition, ecumenism calls for unity, therefore a notion of consensus.
  2. One of the programmes of the Community espouses 'single identity' programmes. (While it is not unusual to have two national identities such as Irish and British, it is not clear how Corrymeela enacts its single identity programmes).
  3. According to Smootha's thesis, cultural pluralismdoes translate into the segregation of institutions (schools, churches, and neighbourhoods).

To sum up, structural pluralism is deficient when all the actors, such as pressure or lobby groups, trade unions, peak bodies, and other institutions are excluded from the political process.

Figgis' notion of the Church challenging the State

Figgis begins his study by referring to the Italian aphorism Libera Chiesa in Libero Stato (a Free Church in a Free State), which is meant to sum up the ideal of statesmanship "for the solution of the perennial problem of the two powers."(87) This concept has some resonance with the 1937 Irish Constitution that de Valera drafted under the rubric of the "special position of the Catholic Church." However, Figgis makes his following assertion:

Christian holiness is not only never [sic] achieved in perfection, but it is far less nearly and less frequently achieved than the ethical ideals of Pagans or Mohammedans [sic]. (88)

According to the above, Figgis is making an admission of the facts; non-Christians are capable of "creating an ethical or virtuous social arrangement." Therefore, it follows, Protestants and Catholics, as organised religions, are not exclusively ordained to create a peaceful and conciliatory arrangement in a society such as Northern Ireland. If we follow Figgis' above argument, nonadherents, or even atheists, are able to reconcile. Furthermore, the laity or the secular sphere can be instrumental in either creating or resolving conflict. However, the Hibernian case is more complex in that the clergy are not bearers of arms,(89) but the competing ideology (dogma) that they represent or preach is the protagonist of conflict and violence. It is not religious dogma alone, or a denomination, that is mobilised as a society within the greater society we call the State, but rather political parties are mobilised with religious labelling or identity.

There is an element of truth in Figgis' study when he argues:

[T]hat we are divided from our adversaries by questions of principle, not of detail; that the principle is concerned not with the details of ecclesiastical privilege or with the special position of an Established Church, but with the very nature of the corporate life of men, and therefore with the true nature of the State.(90)

However, 'the corporate life of men' (and women) is not dependent on the Church. It may, however, be the view of Church hierarchy, because such a relationship intrinsically gives the Church the power it needs in order to survive as an institution and an instrument of moral order. Thus, theoretically at least, there is no democratic space for pluralism within the Church. 'True' pluralism is often manifested by dissent. I have cited above that clerics like Wilson, O'Fiaich, and even Reverend Paisley could fit this mould of dissension. In the case of Paisley, he founded the Free Presbyterian Church in 1951, which in my view is not only a manifestation of a splinter group, but also an expression of dissent. The Free Presbyterian Church was founded in protest against ecumenism and alleged apostasy in Irish Presbyterianism. Although it may have broken away from the major Presbyterian Church, there are several other instances of splinter group formation in both unionist and republican communities. But, the point is, splinter groups broadly share the same political objective as their larger associate bodies, whether it be unionism or republicanism and are all divided "from [their] adversaries in questions of principle." Moreover, in the Protestant community, splinter groups among other factions have demonstrated the phenomenon of fragmentation of Protestant identity.

Interestingly, Figgis goes on to argue the following:

In Church matters, now that the conflict is passing from one on matters of ritual to questions which concern the deepest facts of social life, we shall have many willing to make common cause with us who previously were disposed to be contemptuous of what appeared a mere partisan conflict...[F]ree Churches are not so free as they supposed, so long as this doctrine of State omnipotence remains unconquered.(91)

Indeed, we can concur with the ecumenical movement's notion in that the conflict has passed from issues of ritual. But, in spite of the multiplicity of denominations in Northern Ireland, a paradox arises when, on the one hand, there is a call for unity and, on the other, these denominations continue to maintain exclusivity. This is contrary to the above definition of pluralism, as argued by Connolly. Moreover, despite Figgis' view of the State as being omnipotent, in Western liberal democratic arrangements pluralism, and therefore instances of dissent, is also part of the democratic space. Finally, it should be noted, although briefly, the schism in the Church that began in 1499 was in essence dissent against the Church of Rome. It was the genesis of religious pluralism in the Christian world.

Does ecumenism undermine pluralism?

The following analysis has ramifications for global aspects of the sacred sphere, but it does not lose its relevance in the context of Northern Ireland. As Hill points out, Catholic bishops are unwilling to embrace the demands of a genuinely pluralistic society in the Republic of Ireland. It follows that their obvious reluctance to embrace pluralism will continue to be an overriding concern of Protestants in the face of the complex issue of future relations between the North and the Republic.93

Let us begin by referring to an assumption made by ecclesiology, that secular humanism leads to human affairs taking on an exaggerated form. Or put another way, ecclesiastical teaching maintains spiritualism is an antidote for the difficulties of this life. First and foremost, the above is based on the existence of God. The consequence of this leads us to ask the questions: What constitutes Christianity, and who is Christ? Is he God? Indeed, these are questions or topics for discussion elsewhere, but for present purposes I will remain within the parameters of an analysis focusing on Christian unity. However, if ecumenism does exist as a dynamic, then it follows that there is a consensus on the works and teachings of Christ. Peace is but one tenet of Christ. Be that as it may, it should be borne in mind that dissensus is crucial in a pluralistic arrangement. Consequently, this is also paramount in a democratic arrangement.

Historically, however, conflict (including wars) has characterised the behaviour of Christians, and peace has been made a part of secular humanism, but not by the hierarchies of Rome, Mecca, or Canterbury. Thus, the above prompts the question of whether human secularism is exaggerated as previously claimed. Moreover, the political process determines the history of societies. Religion is but a part of the historical process.

In order to unravel the question of ecumenism and its implications for pluralism, we need to revise some aspects of Vatican II's consequences for ecumenism. More specifically, how does the Second Council's agenda translate into pastoral realities? First, the Vatican II documents were statements of principle and guidelines for renewal of the Church. The implementation of the above is not an easy process because one has to take into account local history. Another factor is the multiplicity of views about what Vatican II did, in other words, official and unofficial interpretations by individual theologians and commentators. At best, Martins maintains Vatican II had some confusing effects and, at worst, disoriented some priests, such as those who left the priesthood and married.(92) An extreme case is that of Archbishop Lefebvre in Switzerland who considered ecumenism to be evil.(93) Hans Küng was dismissed as a Catholic theologian because he was considered to be too humanist and incorrect in his interpretations of Catholic 'truths.'(94)

Vatican II also brought about changes in how individuals saw the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. For instance, Humanae Vitae, the document on contraception, resulted in some priests telling people they could follow their own conscience in matters of contraception.(95) In brief, however, contraception is against Catholic moral teaching. On this issue alone, I argue, divisions will occur in Christian communities where there is an antipathy towards Catholicism. Yet, at the same time, the above study by Drew indicates a decline in the Catholic Church's authority, in that attempts to press civil laws that reinforce canon law are failing in the face of Europeanisation. Moreover, in Northern Ireland, where some Protestants view the Republic as a papist state, such attitudes are further compounded by the conservative and authoritarian nature of the Catholic Church. This point cannot be underestimated. The latter, by its own nature and ideology, fuels the notion of Protestants as being a community under "siege." At the same time, it should be noted the Corrymeela Community aims to dispel this idea.(96)

Some comment is required as to the way the Catholic Church sees itself (as among other religions). Basically, there are three levels: faith, worship (union with God), and institution (hierarchy as a service organisation). In those three levels there are differences between the different religions, although they do agree fundamentally, that it is a common faith, as noted above. In the second level, that is worship or religious practice, the different religions are not in agreement. For instance, according to the Vatican, only the Orthodox Church shares the understanding of the Mass. Thirdly, the organisation or hierarchical structure is different among the religions. In brief, the structure of the Catholic Church is essentially based on a monarchical system with the pope as its head.

Nonetheless, the question remains how does the above relate to the notion of pluralism? Or, how it does not relate to pluralism? Take for instance, baptism. Baptism is a part of Christian unity in that most Christian churches use it and the Catholic Church recognises the baptism by many other Churches.(97) However, if the Catholic Church takes the above position regarding the sacrament of baptism, then it does not necessarily alleviate the anxieties of Protestants who maintain a primacy of conscience in matters of marriage and family.(98) Placing other issues aside, such as language, culture, and territory, the above Catholic dogma must certainly contribute in part, at least, to a conflictual environment at grassroots level. In other words, in this instance, Catholicism does not satisfy Connolly's theoretical blueprint of pluralism when he argues that, in order to have a pluralist ethic, "there is no single purpose or good that deserves the highest support of all rational people."(99) Thus it seems political pluralism is undermined. At the same time, however, Martins argues that "if pluralism is radicalised too much, you end up with relativism."(100)

Moreover, as ecumenism advances, Martins argues, it should reduce pluralism in the 'essentials' of Christianity. Faith and salvation are fundamental or 'essentials' in Christian teaching and are shared at the organisational level among the different confessions. In the 'nonessentials' of Christianity, variety (for instance theological opinion, devotional practices, cultural elements, aspects of church organisation, and structure) is not only permissible, but also desirable.(101) Celibacy and the ordination of women are issues that stand in the way of pluralism. The analogy, in the words of a university chaplain is:

On the matter of women priests, it is not that the Church does not want to have women priests, it can't. You cannot celebrate Mass with beer; it has to be wine.(102)

In other words, according to the Catholic Church's teaching, essential features of the sacraments are determined by Christ, not by sociological determinants or human preferences.

Martins asserts, "some pluralism on non-essential matters means that the Church is committed to religious freedom." That is, the Church cannot use coercion. Moreover, the Church maintains that a person can embrace the truth freely. But, this does not mean that it does not matter what a person believes. Again, it can be argued here that the above presents certain ambiguities. On the one hand, the Catholic Church is saying that religion should be embraced freely and according to the individual's conscience, but on the other hand, it claims that "not all religions are equally valid because it would betray Christ."(103) Yet it is claimed the pope is the instrument of ecumenism.(104) According to Martins, the pope is not there to enforce opinions; he is the focus of unity. He is open to suggestion of new ways in which the pope can be a servant of the Church and even among non-Christians. (At the time of writing in March of 2000, Pope John Paul II made a historic visit to the Holy Land, not only for spiritual reasons, but also as an attempt to reconcile the Catholic Church with the Jewish faith and Islam).

The question that needs to be asked here is: What does this all mean to the Republican or Loyalist paramilitaries or terrorists? I strongly argue very little, if anything at all. This is not to say that all terrorists are void of some spiritual dimension or not capable of 'redeeming' themselves. For instance, US Senator George Mitchell, chairman of the Northern Ireland peace process, comments:

I think one of the great lessons out of this whole process, which may be incidental to the result but nonetheless important in human terms, is the capacity for human redemption. The ability of people who have made serious tragic errors, violent errors, committed brutal atrocities, to accept responsibility, to be punished for it, to accept that punishment and then change --- genuinely change.(105)

Nonetheless, the Corrymeela Community, in its endeavour for 'peace and reconciliation' is ready for the challenges the task presents. The Community's commitment to the above Christian message is remarkable. A 'war' situation, such as in Northern Ireland during the past thirty years, together with social justice issues (unemployment and deprivation) creates an environment for killing and violence. War entails killing people. Social justice issues can serve as a rationalisation for violence. Even when some theorists such as Walker(106) or Clutterbuck(107) equate terrorism with criminal banditry, one must also consider the psychopathology of the terrorist(s). Although their political leaders may manipulate the them, the danger of their activities not only instils a feeling of romanticism (freedom fighter mentality), but also a sense of euphoria, perverted as it may be. The lure of money exacted from extortion rackets, robbery, and so forth can be transferred into a sense of power.

However, there remains an umbilical connection between paramilitary organizations, their political aspirations and their religious labels. All together, these characteristics have the capacity to impinge on the collective mental state of a community. In brief, they can outweigh any influence from Corrymeela. To sum up, a former Belfast photographer writes about his experience as a former Community member:

Corrymeela is a good organisation, but where I see it fails, and as some one who has attended it when I was a kid, is the fact that you are taking groups of people from different religions and putting them in a neutral environment for a couple of days and when they return to their own communities there is no backup system in place to continue the healing process. It would be like getting members of an Aboriginal Group and a group of Racists on a two day holiday together and after that time letting the Racists carry on as before without following up on the exercise.(108)

The above comment has resonance with my critique of an experience cited by Doob and Foltz in their study titled, "The Belfast Workshop: An Application of Group Techniques to a Destructive Conflict." In brief, this study concerns a group of 56 people mimicking group therapy and focusing on conflict resolution. Thus, this workshop, like Corrymeela, is in a sense an artificial environment with controls. On the one hand, it resembles the above photographer's experience in that when the group is discharged from such an environment there is no follow-up. The realities, which in this case are the political realities of violence, troops on the streets, no provincial power-sharing government, or its collapse, and so forth, do not have the controls noted above. Yet, on the other hand it must be noted the above is only one view expressed by the photographer. It would not be an exaggeration to use the analogy of a 'therapeutic community' when we consider Corrymeela's other activities/programmes. For instance, the Family and Community Work programme includes interventions such as providing 'respite.' It "concentrates upon working with people, in which individuals can relax, enjoy...and look to what the future might hold for them."(109) In recent years, Corrymeela's support network has expanded to include follow-up of individuals and families in their own communities.

The above activities are not limited only to peace-oriented groups. Similar interventions exist in other organizations that may or may not be necessarily church based. State agencies can intervene in times of a household crisis, whether it is assistance with seeking accommodation or protecting a family against violence. Violence in many western societies is not political or sectarian in nature. Nevertheless, the metaphor that is found in the medical model when describing a 'sick society' need not be lost in the case of Northern Ireland.(110)13 Human catastrophes, such as the Great Irish Famine have impacted upon the national psyche. But briefly, in terms of the Irish conflict, bitter ideological prescriptions in a divided community have resulted in fratricide, together with the phenomena of collective grief, collective fear, and generalised paranoia.

Theoretically the notion of a healing community is appealing, but the reality in the metropolis is that of a Hobbesian notion of 'every man against every man' and the 'causes of quarrel' in human nature "maketh men invade for gain...for safety...and for reputation."(111) Indeed, the paramilitary organizations on both sides within Ulster have long histories and traditions, and, in their perceptions, there are reputations to protect. As long as either or each community, Catholic or Protestant, claims to be defending itself against the other, hard line Loyalists or hard line Republicans are not likely to surrender their weapons, let alone reach reconciliation.

The latter instance of reputation is particularly valid in the context of negotiations involving former US Senator George Mitchell. In other words, the decommissioning of weapons by the IRA translates into surrender for the republicans. Therefore, they consider their reputation to be at stake. However, it can be argued, the reputation of both protagonists in this quarrel are at stake, that is, the leadership of Adams and Trimble. Interestingly, under these circumstances, an agreement between Sinn Féin and the UPP on the above issue is possible, no matter the amount of compromise that may contribute to such an agreement. It seems under these circumstances, or specific agendas, pluralism is either paused or considered not to be an option, especially when one party (the UUP) insists that, while there are guns, there is no government. Meaning, a power-sharing government will not be formed unless the IRA decommissions its weapons. Thus, the Corrymeela Community pales in significance as an actor because neither the Community nor the Churches are able to take the gun out of Irish politics. In brief, it is the role of a constitutional government to remove the guns, rather than canon law in an increasingly secularised society. However, by the same token, it is the moral responsibility of a constitutional government to allow the circumstances for a civil society to flourish.

If pluralism is undermined, what are the implications for a civil society in Northern Ireland?

Up to now, the historical data shows mostly an existence of the notion of a coalition between the Church and State, but at the same time, the relationship has soured when the circumstances were either those of political or popular dissensus or the consequences resulting in conflict. Briefly, as Marx noted, religion is the opium of the people. Thus, in the case of post-war Poland, the Catholic Church was the opium for its flock during the communist regime. The coalition between the Vatican and Lech Walesa is a notable example. We have also noted the Catholic clergy's support and involvement in the Civil Rights movement in Belfast and Derry. Thus, in the Irish experience, Catholicism became the opium. In essence, the relationship between the Church and the State is perpetuated in the Northern Irish conflict. What commentators of both denominations do not readily acknowledge is that the Protestant and Catholic Churches are symbiotically fused with the political landscape in Northern Ireland. The Church too is a political animal. If the Church takes a stand on one side or the other, or takes a stand not to take a stand, it is still a stand -- positive, negative, or neutral.

As Father Gilbert Padilla puts it:

If we seek to muzzle the church politically, we stand in favour of the ruling regime -- just or unjust. If we allow the church to speak out politically, we take a stand for or against that regime. Either way, the church will be involved, even if by silence.(112)

Perhaps for propagandistic purposes, although unintended, the focus is greater on the Catholic Church's radical conservative position because Irish national identity is so strongly coupled with Catholicism. Commentators such as O'Toole dispute this. Nevertheless, the notion of a Catholic identity in turn impinges on the profile of, for example, the IRA, because of its objective of a united Ireland. But the means of the campaign by the IRA for a united Ireland as an end in itself does not equate to a papist state. Sinn Féin's manifesto, Saol Nua (A New Way of Life),(113)16 based on a secular, socialist democratic platform, may also exacerbate the Catholic Church's anxieties. Moreover, terrorist groups do not have a mandate, or legitimacy, but the people do, in that the people elect their representatives, be they Unionist or Nationalist. Therefore, does the Catholic Church, through its radical conservative position, undermine the notion of a civil society? Does the Corrymeela Community have a role in civil society? Traditionally, the Church has been outspoken on social justice issues. In the Northern Ireland situation, it seems there exists a perception that the Catholic Church has been a voice for the republican issues, even in matters of social justice. The Corrymeela Community, however, ought to be viewed as being neutral. But at the same time, it is an actor in civil society.

Corrymeela against the odds of sectarianism: The final analysis

In the above, we have examined the variables that exist in the same parameters of the conflictual environment as the Corrymeela Community. In other words, there exists an antagonism of not only an ethnic conflict (to use a shorthand), but also a sectarian force against Corrymeela's ecumenical aim of peace and reconciliation. A variable or a concept, which is a salient part of the dynamics of Northern Ireland's conflict, is anti-Catholicism. Certainly, this concept has been alluded to in the course of this study, but its force and content has not been fully understood. Although this concept is often cited, its analysis has been only partial or omitted altogether. Anti-Catholicism is as much a sociological process as a theological dispute about doctrine, which is critical to the self-defining identity of certain Protestants.(114) Thus, it can be argued here that the force of anti-Catholicism has the potential to overwhelm any pacifistic overtures or endeavours, such as those of the Corrymeela Community. As Brewer and Higgins argue, anti-Catholicism "becomes used as a resource in group mobilisation" and continues to thrive in a setting where "its reception is amongst an audience or primary constituency."(115)

Moreover, anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland is a form of theology linked with political loyalty, economic privilege, and cultural superiority.(116) Thus religious difference, which is critical to Protestants, stands in reinforcement of ethnic identity and thus represents the patterns of differentiation in an ethnically structured society. Anti-Catholicism is mobilised to define the boundaries and the groups involved are in competition over power, wealth, and status.(117) It is mobilised to regulate and control that competition and is used in social closure to defend the monopoly of the Protestant ethnic group.

The mobilisation of Protestants to defend their socio-economic and political position has already been rehearsed in this study. In brief, the above are manifested by discrimination against Catholics and the ideological antagonism between Unionism and Republicanism. However, it is in times of "political threat and instability, conservative evangelism acted as the sacred canopy."(118) This has long historical roots in ethno-national traditions in Northern Ireland. But as Brewer and Higgins point out, anti-Catholic language can be called a 'discursive formation,' and it permeates deep within Northern Irish popular culture. The effectiveness of anti-Catholic rhetoric in the past is also a current phenomenon, if not intensified among opponents of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.(119)This is the environment in which the Corrymeela Community has assigned itself to the mission of bringing about peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. The potential for the Community's success may be retarded, because not only is anti-Catholicism highly mobilised, but also "anti-Catholicism comes with its own immutable and in-built legitimation."(120) Its legitimation, according to the Protestants, comes from God's Scriptural injunction to oppose doctrinal error. (121)

Brewer and Higgins identify four modes of anti-Catholicism. They distinguish between 'passive anti-Catholicism' as one mode, but in the case of 'active anti-Catholicism,' it is distinguishable by covenantal, secular, and Pharisaic modes. The covenantal mode is based on ideas from the Old Testament, whereby God promises untold blessings, including land, to a chosen people so long as they remain faithful to Him.(122) This mode emphasises how Protestantism has a divine mission in Ireland to save the country from the Roman Catholic Church.(123) There is an overlap between the covenantal mode and the Pharisaic mode, as politics and theology are interwoven, with the Scripture being used to support union with Britain. Moreover, advocates of these modes are found among conservative and fundamentalist Protestants, sometimes calling themselves 'Bible Protestants,' "in contrast to those Protestants whom they see as using the 'Protestant' self-appellation solely as a political identity."(124)

Perhaps one of the most rigid if not disturbing aspects of these modes, as part of an ideology, is found in the notion that "since Catholicism is unchristian and seeks to annihilate Protestantism, no meaningful relationship with Catholics or their Church can ever be countenanced."(125)30 However, if anti-Catholicism is equated with a form of hatred, then surely, such a posture is also unchristian. Thus in these circumstances, Corrymeela is faced with a seemingly insurmountable task that is further compounded by the secular mode of anti-Catholicism. In other words, not only is the secular mode based on political ideas supporting the Union, but it also includes those militant Loyalists whose paramilitary activities are not without theological conviction. To be sure, there is little theological content in the secular mode, but the language of anti-Catholicism is based on an overlap of covenantal and Pharisaic rhetoric. Nevertheless, the language of anti-Catholicism becomes artefacts found in slogans such as 'No surrender,' 'no Pope here,' 'the whore of Babylon,' 'Taigs out,' 'for God and Ulster,' and 'Ulster will fight and Ulster is right.' This form of ideology is reproduced and is vital to the constituted Protestant national identity. Thus, Corrymeela's programme of ecumenical education, among other activities, is vital in socialising a younger generation toward tolerance, understanding, and peaceful co-existence. Moreover, there are two significant factors that cannot be ignored. One is the statutory requirement that Northern Ireland's schools integrate Education for Mutual Understanding (EMU). This is a provision for children to learn about other religions. Second, there are communities in Northern Ireland where Protestants and Catholics do live in peaceful co-existence. Omagh and Poyntzpass are two towns that come to mind. Therefore, not only do the above have the potential to reinforce Corrymeela's efforts, but also, they also must weaken the force of anti-Catholicism.

Finally, the Pharisaic mode is called such because it has ideas reminiscent of the Pharisees. According to Brewer and Higgins:

Its advocates believe that they know the Biblical truth and have the right doctrine. Adherents of this mode believe the Catholic doctrine is in error, and evangelism of Catholics is stressed in order to bring them back to Biblical truth, which is why relationship and dialogue are permitted with Catholics in ecumenical settings.(126)

Although the Corrymeela Community is an ecumenical setting, it is not subject to the dictates noted above. Rather, it is suggested here, its mission is faced with a language and a cognitive phenomenon of anti-Catholicism that is "closed, immutable and resistant to change."(127) For Corrymeela to have an impact or some measure of success, this would mean an almost complete change in attitude across the province. In brief, this would also mean a complete re-socialisation of Northern Irish society and popular culture. In view of the Community's limitations noted above, the aims of the Community may only be realised in the very long term. The fact is, this is what is required, and a pivotal part of this process is reconciliation. As one Shankill Road resident puts it as a metaphor:

Expecting the IRA to decommission their arms is like offering the people of Northern Ireland a red herring. What is needed, is the decommissioning of the mind.(128)

Thus, the above must be seen as a positive attitude. Indeed, such an approach is shared by a number of Catholics and Protestants within and without the Corrymeela Community. However, it requires a cohesive organisation to work toward peace and reconciliation. The Corrymeela Community has this cohesion. Not only because it is a Christian ideal, but also because it is the Community's commitment to an end that is for the greater good.


There is the sense that the above study could be reduced to one basic question: Why do some organizations succeed and not others? But that perhaps would be too reductionist, because the interplay of circumstances such as those accentuated by leadership prowess or charisma, nationalist aspirations, cultural nationalism, economic nationalism, territoriality, financial viability, and so forth, are important variables. In any event, this paper's primary focus has been an evaluation of the Corrymeela Community as an actor in a divided society. Inevitably, there is also the sense of returning to fundamental definitions of religion and politics and how we return to the familiar concept of allocating resources. The Church is not excluded from this process. The religious sphere reflects the political sphere in that it too has competing ideologies and, therefore, mobilises them. Moreover, the religious sphere also enacts social policy, which also belongs to the state, such as health, education, and welfare, to name but few. Education, or perhaps more precisely, socialisation, and to a certain degree, welfare are also programmes of the Corrymeela Community. Nonetheless, there is a need for collective re-socialisation, rather than leaving such a task to one organisation.

This essay has also argued the case for the role of secular politics in creating the institutions of a just and democratic government. At the same time, the Catholic Church maintains its ambiguous position, while the Protestants' situation is far more fragmented. Moreover, the respective Churches share a political relationship with their members in Ulster's polity. Nevertheless, among the political actors, the Corrymeela Community finds itself posited outside the political process in Northern Ireland, but at the same time calling for peace and reconciliation in the province. In a sense, the place of the Community in relation to the rest of Northern Ireland's society sits as just a part of the whole. The Community is on the periphery of the political process. Yet, ironically it can be said that the whole as an ideal would mean an environment of peace and reconciliation across both sides of Ulster's community. However, the existence of ecumenism or an ecumenical organisation, as noted above, not only creates practical difficulties in itself, but also a theoreticaltension associated with the concept of pluralism itself. Rescher and Sartori have demonstrated this difficulty.

Therefore, it is not for conceptual reasons that the success of the Corrymeela Community is challenged here, but rather, the practical ones of its limitations to penetrate the institutional political process, thereby more actively mobilising its Christian message. Moreover, the variables, including phenomena such as renegade paramilitary splinter groups, ongoing social justice issues, and the psychopathology of individuals or groups of individuals, may continue to obstruct a consensual and a pluralistic environment. The resources of anti-Catholicism may outweigh the Community's limited resources and mobility. But this phenomenon should not be overstated. Anti-Catholicism and, for that matter, anti-Protestantism, are both anti-pluralistic and anti-ecumenical. This level of antipathy may be difficult to reconcile with the popular will for peace expressed in the May 22, 1998 referendum. Yet, in spite of these difficulties (theoretical and practical), which have been examined in this study, the Community continues to grow since its origins in 1965. Corrymeela's aspirations as an ecumenical organisation are unambiguous. That is, the concept of peace and reconciliation is unambiguous.

Hence, there is a role for the government to enhance this process, especially in view of the fact that there exists a policy of Education for Mutual Understanding. The State, that is, the Stormont government or at least the province's Secretary, should embrace a policy of popular reconciliation in Northern Ireland. This is not a new concept. For instance, lessons can be drawn from Nicaragua's President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who pursued a policy of national reconciliation after the ceasefire there in 1990. British troops on the streets of Belfast or Portadown or elsewhere is an imposed peace. Reconciliation is a prerequisite for peace. But peace also needs to be based on justice -- politically and socially.

In conclusion, the Corrymeela Community may prove more beneficial in the long term than in the short term, after the competing parties at Stormont demonstrate a successful power sharing arrangement. It is then that there is a greater chance of inclusive membership and a crossover between the two communities, which in a 'trickle-down' effect can influence collective behaviour in the religious sphere.


1. Cited by Hogan, M.J., in " Managing Dissent in the Catholic Church: A Reinterpretation of the Pastoral Letter on War and Peace," in Quarterly Journal of Speech, November 1989, p. 400.

2. David Trimble put forward the recommendations of former US Senator George Mitchell, the mediator in the stalled peace process to a meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) on November 27, 1999. Fifty-seven percent of the UCC's 858 delegates voted to allow the Assembly members (Stormont government) to form an executive administration that would include Sinn Féin ministers.

Sources: Millar, F., De Bréadún, D., and Tanney, P., "Trimble stakes leadership on UUC verdict at meeting," The Irish Times on the Web, November 27, 1999. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/1999/1127/north8.htm Sighted November 29, 1999.

The Irish Times on the Web, November 29, 1999. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/1999/1129/north50.htm. Sighted November 30, 1999. Author not cited.

3. Hudson, D., The Ecumenical Movement in World Affairs, (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969), p. 34.

4. Brian Duffy, the headmaster of Bandon Grammar School in Dublin speaks favourably of the Republic of Ireland's policy on funding Protestant schools. Duffy also claims the younger generation of Protestants and Catholics see no difference in terms of each other's status. He cites the example of students at The High School in Dublin. By way of contrast, Reverend Ian Paisley is critical of the fact Protestant taxpayers fund Catholic schools in Northern Ireland. At the same time, Myles Duncan, a broadcaster and writer claims others have chosen Protestantism over Catholicism in spite of being raised Catholic because of disillusionment after brutal treatment by Christian brothers in former years. Duncan feels this is not 'treasonous,' as it is a religious choice and not a political choice. He attributes this to religious affiliation in the Republic not being as tribal as in the North. Source: No Offence: Ireland's Other Protestants, Network Ireland Television, Chistera Productions, transmitted by Special Broadcasting Service Television (SBS-TV, Australia), June 27, 1999.

5. According to the above source, it claims there is an increased feeling of Irish identity, because people in the Republic no longer feel a sense of having to be Catholic and speaking Gaelic to be Irish. Moreover, this source claims Protestants feel proud to speak Gaelic and Southern Protestants are contented with their 'Irishness.' This in turn has changed the perceptions by the Protestants in the South regarding the Protestants in the North. Ibid. Irish Times journalist, Finton O'Toole, however, expresses an opposing view. According to O'Toole, Irish identity was "invented" at the foundation of the State and derived from a combination of land, nationality, and religion. He further argues Catholicism has ceased to be a mark of political identity. The latter may well be the case in the Republic, but it is argued here that Catholicism is a political identityin the North. Source: Cullen, P., "Conference is told of death of identity," The Irish Times on the Web, November 29, 1999.

http://www.ireland.com/newspaper!/ireland/1999/1129/hom21.htm. Sighted November 30, 1999.

6. Flackes, W.D., Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, (London: Ariel Books, British Broadcasting Corporation, 1980), p. 177.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Bardon, J., A History of Ulster ,op. cit. p. 727.

11. Ibid. It is of note here to cite Bardon's account of collective behaviour toward the Peace People:

Residents of the Shankill warmly shook hands with nuns and priests during the peace march there but the Peace People walked up the Falls in torrential rain to a more hostile reception of abuse and stones. Ibid.

Another example of refusing to recognise the Peace People's efforts came after they received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on 10 December, when the Unionist-dominated Belfast City Council had decided against giving the Peace People leaders a civic reception. Ibid. p. 733.

12. Ibid. p. 727. See Peace Movements of the World: An International Directory, Day, A.J., (ed.), (Harlow, Essex: Longman Group UK Ltd, 1986), under Ireland and Northern Ireland entries.

13. Grattan, G.,"FAIT report calls for action to end violence," in Belfast Telegraph On Line, November 23, 1998. http://www. belfasttelegraph.co. uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi. Sighted November 30, 1999.

14. Source: "FAIT bid to end bloodshed," in Belfast Telegraph On Line, January 27, 1998. Author not cited. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi Sighted November, 30 1999.

15. Belfast Telegraph On Line, May 5, 1997. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi Sighted November 30, 1999.

16. Fowler, C., "The Corrymeela Community and its Programme Work," Part 1, July 1995, n.p. Email correspondence from Trevor Williams, belfast@corrymeela.org.uk to Ted Cichon, April 21, 1999. p. 1.

17. Ibid. p. 2.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid. p. 3.

22. Ibid. The aspiration "to rediscover the concept of community" may have limitations here. In view of increasing globalisation, Northern Ireland is not immune to the impact of transnational corporatism and secularisation. Moreover, Northern Ireland is becoming more heterogeneous, with small Asian and sub-continental groups entering the demographical composition. The above supports the argument of Gessellschaft as outweighing the traditional concept of Gemeinschaft, thereby making Corrymeela's aspiration in one sense seem rather idealistic. However, Corrymeela is a 'community' in that it is a collection of peoples with a normative force.

23. Ibid. p. 5.

24. Ibid. p. 6.

25. Ibid. p. 8. It may be pragmatic for the Community to downplay the historical aspect of the contemporary issues and the subsequent conflict, but it can also be argued that the present is the product of the past. Historical factors aside, there are issues such as abortion, contraception, and divorce, which in terms of canon law are beyond the control of the Catholic laity, let alone 'ordinary' churchgoers. For a more definitive essay, see O'Mahony, T.P., "Ireland: Church State Tensions," in America, April 13, 1985 pp. 300-302. O'Mahony makes the point that after 1972, when the special position of the Catholic Church (as in the 1937 Constitution) was depleted by popular referendum, changes became apparent in church-state arrangements. This is evidenced by, for instance, the 1983 Pro-Life Amendment debate in the Oireachtas (Parliament). Moreover, the legislation on contraception in the Republic was an important development, as "it would be welcomed from the point of view of the Northern Ireland perception of 'Rome rule' in the Republic." Ibid. p. 302.

26. Fowler, C., extract from "The Corrymeela Community," op. cit. p. 8.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid. p. 24.

30. Ibid. pp. 67-70.

31. Ibid. p. 68.

32. Ibid. p. 69.

33. Ibid.

34. Ibid. p. 11.

35. Ibid.

36. Ibid. p. 16

37. Ibid. p. 9.

38. Ibid. p. 13.

39. Ibid.

40. Email correspondence from Trevor Williams, Leader of "The Corrymeeela Community," in Belfast, belfast@corrymeela.org.uk>, to Ted Cichon on the question of how the Community is not as proactive as it should be. January 20, 2000.

41. Evans, G., and Newnham, J., The Penguin Dictionary of International Relations, (London: Penguin Books Ltd, 1998), p. 18.

42. Ibid. pp. 210-211.

43. See McGahan, C., "Japan Honours Work of Centre," Belfast Telegraph On Line, February 22, 1997, http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/ArchiveSearch.cgi. Sighted November 30, 1999.

44. Flackes, W.D., Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, op. cit., p. 31.

45. Ibid.

46. Ibid. p. 32. By way of illustration, in the Australian experience, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party emerged out of the 1996 federal elections. Initially, One Nation posed as a protest vote against the dominant two-party system. In the state election of Queensland that followed, the party won 10 seats. This represented 23% of the vote. The point here is new groupings or political parties can enter into politics as part of a pluralistic arrangement. Source: Arkley, L., " The Hanson Factor: A Fiery MP with a racial message is wild card in Australia's election," in MacLean's, September 14, 1998, Vol. 111, No.37, p. 26.

47. Flackes, W.D., Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, op. cit. p. 213.

48. Ibid. p. 31.

49. Wilson, D., Democracy Denied, op. cit. p. 105.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Ibid. The above separation of the Orange Order from the UUP has been mooted several times. The most recent suggestion was reported in The Irish Times, November 27, 1999. See "UUP may cut Orange Order link," in The Irish Times on the Web, November 27, 1999. http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/front/1999/1127/fro2.htm. Sighted November 29, 1999. Author not cited. The point here is, a possible change (dilution) in the notion of Protestant identity expressed through a quasi-religious organisation such as the Orange Order.

53. Wilson, D., Democracy Denied, (Dublin: Mercier Press, 1997), p. 106. Ibid.

54. Ibid.

55. Connolly, W., in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1991), Miller, D., Coleman, J., Connolly, W., and Ryan, A., (eds.), p. 377.

56. Wilson D., Democracy Denied, op. cit. p. 107.

57. Flackes, W. D., Northern Ireland: A Political Directory, op. cit. p. 238.

58. Dunleavy, P., and O'Leary, B., Theories of the State: The Politics of Liberal Democracy, (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1987), p. 57.

59. Bardon, J., A History of Ulster, op. cit., p. 702.

60. Connolly, W., in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, op. cit. pp. 376-377.

61. McShane, J.M., (S.J.), "The Catholic Experience at Taming Pluralism" in The Christian Century, April 26, 1989, p. 445. Although McShane is referring to the American experience, when Catholics were a minority and Protestants the majority in the formative years of American history, the parallels are nonetheless similar in the way the Catholic Church expressed its attitude toward pluralistic arrangements in the American and Irish experiences. In the American experience, the Catholic Church had discouraged Catholics (at least passively) to pursue an ethnic identity.

62. Ibid.

63. For a further comparison, such as that found in McShane and O'Hagan's work, see Tom Kelly, "The Bonfires, the Bishop, and Seamus Duffy," in Christianity and Crisis, November 6, 1989, pp. 349-351. In brief, Kelly is critical of Cahal Daly, then bishop of Down and Connor and also the Catholic hierarchy's spokesman on matters political in the North. Seamus Duffy was a child killed by a plastic bullet. Kelly criticises Daly for focusing his attention on ceasing commemorations of historical events, rather than the circumstances of Duffy's death (coercion by British security forces).

64. McShane, J.M., Christianity and Crisis, op.cit. p. 443.

65. Ibid. p. 444. However, it should be noted here, recent arguments further claim a shift from Catholicism as being part of an Irish identity. Reference to contemporary discourse regarding this concept has already been made in this paper. See footnote No. 5.

66. Again, the emphasis made here, which is found in McShane's work ,resonates not only in the American experience, but is also witnessed in the Irish experience. See also O'Hagan, D. A., Allies or Antagonists? Irish Catholicism and Irish Republicanism 1980-1996, Doctoral dissertation, (Queen's University of Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1998).

67. "Reconceptualising Families in Ireland: Changes in Demography and Family Forms," a paper presented by Dr. Eileen Drew at the School of Sociology, University of Tasmania, November 16, 1999. This paper was presented at the British Society for Populations Studies Annual Conference, University College Dublin, September 6-8, 1999. Drew holds a post at the Department of Statistics/Centre for Women's Studies, Trinity College Dublin.

68. Ibid.

69. Ibid.

70. Ibid.

71. Ibid. It is suggested here that the fact that Northern Ireland did not adopt mainland Britain's abortion laws is a peculiar phenomenon. Drew is quoted here as saying at her University of Tasmania seminar, "The fact that Northern Ireland did not adopt the British laws on abortion was in no way an act of deference to the Catholic Church." However, Drew does not offer a fuller explanation in either her seminar or in the above paper. An earlier study that mirrors the work of Drew is found in Hayes, B.C., "Female Intergenerational Occupational Mobility within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland: The Importance of Maternal Occupational Status" in The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. XXXVIII, No. 1, pp. 67-76.

72. Hill, T.P., "Church, State and Bishops In Ireland" in America, July 27, 1985, pp. 29-31.

73. Ibid.

74. Ibid. Hill points to the fact that constitutional factors, as seen in the American experience, are also a legal expression of the separation of Church and State, which, theoretically at least, outweighs the doctrinal position. Moreover, Hill argues that the positions of Irish and American bishops are quite different and if Irish bishops were to follow the American example, "they would ease considerably the anxieties of Protestants, further substantially reconciliation between both parts of Ireland, and do this without compromising their doctrinal posi!tion." Ibid. p. 30. Also of note, Hill claims "There is no formal separation between church and state in Ireland." It can be argued, on the basis of Drew's evidence, that the relationship between church and state in Ireland is no longer absolute. Moreover, the changes to Articles 41 and 44 of the Irish constitution meant the deletion of the 'special position of the Church' in the Irish republic. The above instances, particularly in Drew's study, are further evidence of increased secularisation. Although, one study for the Bishops' Council for Research and Development, shows that 60% of young Catholics, aged 15 - 24 years old , in the north go to Mass every Sunday compared with 50% in the south. In any event, the concept of secularisation remains difficult to assess in quantitative terms. Source: Belfast Telegraph On Line, December 3 1998. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi. Sighted November 15, 1999. Author not cited. A search of Belfast Telegr!aph On Line Archives however, reveals further evidence of a decline in church attendance. For instance see, McAdam, N., "Shock figure in Mass survey," Belfast Telegraph On Line, November 7, 1998, http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi Sighted November 15, 1999.

75. Source: Continuous Household Survey, Northern Ireland Central Survey Unit. Email correspondence from McNeill! M., <michael.mcneill.csu@nics.gov.uk>, June 9, 2000. Information requested on the subject of contemporary trends in mixed marriages and church attendance in Northern Ireland.

76. Ibid.

77. Rescher, N., Pluralism: Against the Demand for Consensus, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993) p. 5.

78. Ibid.

79. Giovanni Sartori, "The Background of Pluralism," prepared for delivery at the XVI World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Berlin August 21-25, 1994, p. 17.

80. Smootha, S., "Pluralism and Conflict: A Theoretical Exploration" in Plural Societies, Vol. 6 No. 3, Autumn 1975, p. 69.

81. Ibid. p. 70-71.

82. Cited by Taylor, P., inProvos: The IRA and Sinn Féin, (London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1997), p. 325.

83. Kuper, P., cited by Smootha S., op.cit.p. 76.

84. Ibid.

85. Ibid. p. 79.

86. Ibid. p. 78.

87. Figgis, J. N., Churches in the Modern State, (London: Longmans, Green and Co.,1914), p. 3.

88. Ibid.

89. Ibid. By way of illustration, it is of note to point out that extreme behaviour can be found in such a phenomenon as fundamentalism. A Protestant clergyman, who is also a senior member of the paramilitary group The Red Hand Defenders, was charged with possession of explosives with intent to endanger life. He and another man were arrested after a pipe bomb exploded in a vehicle outside Dungannon, County Tyrone. Source: Murphy, C., "Preacher due in Court on Bomb Charges," in The Irish Times on the Web http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland /1999/1029/north6.htm. Sighted October 29, 1999. By the same token, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher notes, in her autobiography, the Father Patrick Ryan case. Ryan, a nonpracticing Catholic priest, was well known in the security service as a terrorist. He played a significant part in the Provisional IRA's links with Libya and avoided extradition from Belgium in 1988 for charges of conspiracy to murder and explosives offences. See Thatcher, M., Margaret Thatcher: The Downing Street Years, (London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1993), p. 413.

90. Figgis, J.N., Churches in the Modern State, op. cit. pp. 49-50.

91. Ibid. p. 50.

92. Father Joseph Martins is a Roman Catholic priest and is part of the University of Tasmania's chaplaincy. The information used in this section is the result of an informal discussion with Father Martins on November 8, 1999, rather than a formal interview.

93. Ibid.

94. Ibid.

95. Ibid.

96. Fowler, C., "The Corrymeela Community and its Programme Work," op. cit. p. 31.

97. See Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms of Ecumenism, (London: CTS Publications, 1993), pp. 53-56.

98. See O'Malley, P., Biting at the Grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990), p. 186.

99. Connolly, W. E., in TheBlackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, op. cit. p. 376.

100. Martins, J., op. cit. It should be noted, in this instance Martins refers specifically to the concepts of freedom and truth.

101. Martins, J., op. cit., November 8, 1999. Take for instance, the concept of 'inculturation.' In some African countries, Mass is celebrated by incorporating traditional indigenous choreography.

102. Ibid. Discussion with Martins, J., November 8, 1999.

103. Ibid. Martins, J.

104. Encyclical Letter Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint (That They May All Be One), Australian edition, (Homebush: Society of St Paul Publishers, 1995), pp. 98-100.

105. Source: The Loyalists, Episode 3, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 1999, transmission by Special Broadcasting Service Australia (SBS-TV) on February 27, 2000. By way of contrast, if not a contradiction of Senator Mitchell's claim, former IRA member Eamon Collins, among others, renounced the use of violence in an interview with George Negus in the television documentary, Foreign Correspondent. Ironically, a few weeks after this interview, Collins died in what seemed to be an execution-style of killing by the IRA. Source: Australian Broadcasting Corporation, (ABC -TV), Foreign Correspondent, transmitted on May 25, 1998. Moreover, in the above BBC documentary, it also highlighted an active anti-Catholic sentiment expressed in clubhouses around the Protestant Shankill and Portadown areas. Since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, crimes of violence continue to occur in both communities. Although these instances of 'rehabilitation' are admirable, it should be borne in mind, they represent only a small number of all the paramilitary personnel. No matter how some media reports may appear, it is difficult to assess the level of criminal violence as being distinct from political violence. For instance, it is reported that there have been 1,000 paramilitary beatings since the start of the ceasefires. Which ceasefire remains unclear in the following media report. See Thornton, C., "1,000 paramilitary beatings since start of ceasefires," Belfast Telegraph On Line, November 4, 1998, http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/cgi-bin/ArchiveSearch.cgi. Sighted November 30, 1999.

106. See Walker, C., The Prevention of Terrorism in British Law, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986), pp. 4-5. However, Walker makes the distinction between 'political ends' and the use of violence by referring to Section 14 (1) of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act of 1984, which distinguishes 'political violence' from 'ordinary' criminal acts.

107. See also Clutterbuck, R., "Does Terrorism Work?" in Paul Smoker, Ruth Davies and Barbara Munske (ed.), A Reader in Peace Studies, (Oxford and New York: Pergamon Press, 1990), particularly p. 61.

108. Sean 'A' is a photographic journalist living outside of Belfast and his work includes coverage of political developments, both at Stormont and within the province. Email correspondence from Sean 'A' to Ted Cichon November 9, 1999. Electronic mailing details suppressed at the request of the above person.

109. Fowler, C.," The Corrymeela Community and its Programme Work," Part 1, prepared July 1995, op. cit p. 34.

110. In 1973, Cawte proposed the term sick society in a study referring to the Aboriginal Australians. Moreover, Cawte was referring to "a society that has a high amount of psychiatric disabilities, as a result of exceptional stress from ecological and economical hardships, natural and human-produced disaster, disturbance of domesticity, interference with vital strivings and social fragmentation." It is argued here that Cawte's analysis has a similar application in the Northern Ireland situation, but also, if we consider Bostock's concept of collective mental states, collective behavioural phenomena, such as collective grief, has been a hallmark of contemporary Irish history. See Bostock W.W., "Disturbed Collective Mental States: Their Impact on Human Behaviour," in Perspectives: A Mental Health Magazine, November-December 1999, http://mentalhelp.net/perspectives/articles/art11o119992.htm p. 3. Sighted December 21, 1999.

111. Hobbes, T., Leviathan, introduction by Minogue, K.R., (London: Dent, 1973), p. 64.

112. Padilla, G., "Opinion" in National Catholic Reporter, August 1, 1986, Vol. 22, No. 36, page number not cited in hardcopy.

113. Republican Sinn Féin Homepage, http://www. irlnet.com/sinnfein. Sighted August 19, 1997.

114. Brewer, J.D., and Higgins, G.I., " Understanding anti-Catholicism in Northern Ireland in British Journal of Sociology, May 1999, Vol. 33 No. 2, p. 237.

115. Ibid. p. 238.

116. Ibid. p. 239.

117. Ibid.

118. Ibid.p. 240.

119. Ibid. The example of anti-Catholicism Brewer and Higgins use to illustrate the point is that Prime Minister Tony Blair is married to a Catholic. Ibid. pp. 239-240.

120. Ibid.

121. Ibid.

122. Ibid. p. 243. It is notable here is the resonance the Protestant faith has with the people of Israel, who also claimed they were God's chosen people in the Old Testament.

123. Brewer J.D. and Higgins G.I., British Journal of Sociology, op. cit. p. 243.

124. Ibid. p. 245.

125. Ibid.

126. Ibid. p. 246.

127. Ibid. p. 248.

128. Radio Deutsche Welle, (English Language News Service) transmitted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Radio PNN, February 20, 2000.

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