Legacy – by Reverend Harold Good

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Image courtesy of MT Hurson


Last time I met Brendan Duddy was in Galway, where we were taking part in a seminar at the invitation of the NUI archivists.

Accompanied by his son and daughter Brendan was in his wheelchair and, since his severe stroke had deprived him of his speech, it was they who shared his story on his behalf.

As he sat with us, communicating in his own way by the nod of his head and his as yet bright eyes and smile of welcome and approval, we got much more than a glimpse into the courage of this man who played a significant role within the early stages of our Peace Process.

Reflecting on the sad news of his death, I was very aware of the passing of yet another of the champions of the process which has brought us to where we are now – Roy Magee, David Ervine, Father Alec Reid, Martin McGuinness and now Brendan Duddy, each of whom made their unique and vital contribution.

After the passing of each, we have rightly been acknowledging our indebtedness to each of these peacemakers.

How entirely different they all were and how distinctive was the contribution of each.

But they shared a common vision and once more we have lauded their courageous commitment to the things which make for peace.


Image courtesy of MT Hurson


And yet again we have shared and listened to fine words of acknowledgement from leaders of church and state, politics and civil society.

And yet again we have returned to the “same old, same old” rhetoric and divisive debate which can only dishonour the memory of these people whose efforts we applaud but whose vision we ignore when it comes to emulating their examples. And not only these, but the many, many more, known and unknown, who also sought and wrought for peace.

So once again, and very particularly at this moment of time, we have an opportunity to pay our best tribute to such as these, not in fine words, but in courageous, decisive, imaginative, compassionate, respectful non-partisan leadership in every arena, political, religious and civic.  And let none of us ask of our leaders what we are not prepared to contribute ourselves as individually we do all we can to honour the legacy of those whom we honour for what they have left to us.

In listing the names and the achievements of all the worthy prophets and people of the past, the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews adds a salutary and challenging line …

“But they [ and their efforts] will not be made perfect without us” .  So let us make sure that the collective legacies of Roy, David, Martin, Brendan and many others will not be left to gather academic dust in the archives of Galway and elsewhere.


Image courtesy of MT Hurson


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  1. Ciarán Kearney on

    Rev. Harold Good’s voice is one we need to hear more often, especially at this time. His words ring true because of his own example in life. Yet, even ‘legacy’ is becoming a politically loaded term. Some still choose to respect their own dead, whilst demeaning and dehumanising others. Worse again, they deny the dignity and rights of familes who outlive those who have passed on. If we could learn to respect the living, we might learn how to respect the dead.

    • Support Innocent Victims not Terrorists on

      The problem is that Sinn Fein/IRA and other splinter Republican Terrorists claim there was a ‘war’ in the ‘six counties’. Well, taking that as correct, why are they so keen to have those who took them on prosecuted, whilst they themselves in order to facilitate a ‘peace process’ have enjoyed immunity from prosecution, letters of comfort for those terrorists who were ‘on the run’ and people like Kelly and others getting Royal pardons for all the murders they carried out or directed others to do. Similarily, the current situation of the definition of a victim means that the IRA terrorist who placed the bomb in Frizzell’s fish shop on Belfast’s Shankill Road, is considered a ‘victim’ in the same way as those innocent people his bomb killed. As to Harold Good, he may have been a friend of terrorists such as Irvine and McGuinness, both of whom belatedly became ‘peacemakers’ but he was never a friend of the innocent victims of terrorism, that his friends directed or carried out.

    • Brian Rowan on

      Hi Ciaran – I would have much more hope for the talks, and for a process to address past and present if Harold Good alongside some respected international figure were the co-chairs. What a difference his approach could make. How many times has he helped find the answers to seemingly impossible questions? The past has become today’s war – stuck in politics and being used by people who still want to win.

      • Good, is now damaged goods within working class Unionist communities after his fawning all over Martin McGuinness at his funeral. Sinn Fein/IRA and McGuinness along with Good totally ignored Sinn Fein/IRA victims and survivors. And to add insult to injury they claim he was a freedom fighter. A freedom fighter from what exactly???

        Anything that has Goods’ fingerprints on it will be rejected by grassroots Unionism. And when it comes to “people who still want to win”. With their attempts to rewrite history and the drive to set the narrative of the present. That statement applies more to Sinn Fein/IRA and republicans than any other community. And they are ably assisted by fawning media types who have consigned the Sinn Fein/IRA past to the realm of good auld bhoys, and refuse to hold them to account.

  2. The contingent or open-ended nature of our political settlement feeds logically into the need to pursue ‘the conflict’ by other means, via inter-party competition. Parties are drawn to the language of calculation and not accommodation in the absence of conditions that provide permission to do otherwise i.e. interventions by authoritative mediators or trusted third parties. For this reason, we must surely recall that the ‘Yes’ campaign that brought the referendum on the GFA/BA across the line was a shared project, a project for which civil society, including the churches, trade unions and cultural actors accepted responsibility.

    Since the implementation of the GFA/BA civil society has largely retreated and abandoned the field to political parties. Moreover, this trend has been gravely exacerbated by an undue focus on Stand One (the Executive) of the institutions, with civil society barely visible in the transversal or geopolitical dimensions that define the genius of the Agreement.

    Only civil society can create the conditions for re-establishing permission (nay insistence) that the parties step back from the temptation to treat legacy issues as another conflict currency. Democracy cannot be defined by party political imperatives exclusively; this is true around the world, and it is especially true in our post-conflict moment where the complex and emergent conditions for regard, respect, and reconciliation as felt day-to-day realities are being taken hostage by a politics of over-determination.

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