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Image by Elle Rowan


Dear Arlene and Michelle,

We know each other well enough for you to understand the non-sectarian, non-morally superior and non-party political spirit in which I write.

I write as a sincerely anxious citizen as well as from a genuine pastoral concern for ALL the people of this place which you and I are privileged to call our home.

I simply want to ask – did either or both of you and your senior colleagues watch last week’s profoundly moving UTV programme marking the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing? If not, I urge you to turn on your iPlayer at your earliest opportunity.

I believe I know each of you well enough to know that, like me, you cannot fail to be deeply moved and challenged by the  spirit and the courage of all those whose very personal stories were so sensitively shared with us in this programme.

Personal stories of “moving on” contrast so sharply with the murderous intent of those who planted the bomb and of the political intransigence which prevents us from leaving our dark past where it belongs and moving forward together.

I suggest that passive admiration of the spirit of others is not enough, however sincere. You will know that I am not alone in asking – if the stories and voices of the victims of Omagh are not enough, what will it take to lift us out of the sodden trenches of our political impasse?


Image courtesy of BBC


Surely we owe it to these yet quietly grieving people of incredible courage – and to those for whom they grieve – to come together and do whatever it will take to restore OUR Assembly and our confidence in normal effective governance?

The horror of all horrors would be to contemplate the alternative, which some would suggest, would be another event of catastrophic proportions to bring us to our political senses. God forbid!

Sadly, most of us who presently are not directly affected are learning to live with political inactivity, not realising the very serious short and long-term consequences for all of us in the absence of a locally elected legislature.

So I plead with you once more, listen not to predictable and tired old voices like mine, but to those from Omagh and to so many others from across our community who, out of their unspeakable suffering, have shown us in their own incontrovertible way how to face the challenges of the present and the future with dispassionate courage.

I will continue to watch this space with ongoing and deep concern, yet refusing to give up on my hopes of what you and all of our political leaders can yet deliver.

I trust you have the will to undertake the necessary courageous journey as have the people of Omagh to whom I have already referred, along with so many others who share both my frustration as well as my great expectations.


In friendship,

Harold Good


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  1. I can read your feelings in your words Harold. You are a very genuine, decent person.
    Please tell me: What, exactly, should Sinn Féin compromise on?

    • IF IRA have disbanded Sinn Fein should do likewise They have nothing to offer a Christian of true Irish heritage A cult mongral to the brave fools of 1916

    • What would the DUP compromise on?-A language which few speak but is to be introduced to rub noses into the dirt-Im prepared to wait forever to prevent an Irish Language Act-no matter the economic or social cost

      • Then you are prepared to allow this country to continue on it’s path of destruction. Your children or grandchildren will feel the consequences of such intransigence. And when they look at you and ask – why is this country in such a state because of lack of government, the brain drain, the lack of investment by foreign firms, the collapse of the NHS, continued lack of funding for education you can say ‘Well it’s themuns fault. They wanted a language act just like every other country in the UK has and I didn’t want them to have it because I didn’t want to have my nose rubbed in it. Pathetic

      • Deborah Rankin on

        Davy Greene so sorry to disappoint you but the Irish language is spoken everywhere in the North of Ireland maybe you should check it out and they are entitled to speak their native tongue also the Dup have spent thousands of tax payers money on Ulster Scots and recognize it as a language that’s ok but we’re is the the equality of rights in this

  2. As a start, each side should voluntarily (and without prior discussion or negotiation) make a selfless but substantial gesture to the other without any request for, or expectation of reciprocation.


    Can’t help feeling Mr Good is wasting his time and breath, but fair play, especially where the DUP are concerned. I’m a nutural Scotsman who tell’s as he see’s it that’s all. I believe there is a “so called” Ulster/Scots society and a language, so why not an Irish language, and what’s the problem with gay marriage it’s the 21 century. I have children at school as many others do and the schools are in great need of help! We all need the NHS’s help now and again a pity it’s a shambles at the moment, infrastructure is a joke……Shame on you Assembly members……..
    p.s. If I don’t go to work I don’t get paid…………

    • Sinn Fein know as much about the Irish language as a donkey knows about singing Even if it were the 31st century gay marriage would still be legalised Sodomy! What kind of mindset supports that lunacy

    • An Irish Language Act is designed to make non speakers strangers in the land of their birth-That is what is wrong

      • Sorry but Irish is the language of Ireland and people are only strangers to it because the britis h refused to allow it to be spoken times have changed and there is plenty of Irish speaking classes to learn

  4. This is so true, and so right. I was thinking the exact same thing last week, if the voices of the Omagh families cannot get through to these MLA’s, then nothing can…..I am planning to leave here, as we deserve much better. Thankyou Harold Good.

    • I’d be right behind you Eithne. Unfortunately in Nth Ireland houses here are still 42% down (from 2008) unlike the rest of the UK which a the worst (in Hull) is still 10% lower than in 2008. Why ? well it doesn’t take a genius to work that out just look at the comments above playing the blame game. Always someone elses fault. Never their own.

  5. Is it any wonder we have the government not doing their Job, for all the people of Northern Ireland, when some of these comments shout out loudly the kind of people who are voting them into power, how can people of like mind to these comments govern any country, when intrenched with such an attitude. None of these folk speak for the Victims of Omagh or for the most decent in our society. Sad

  6. Still so many blinkered comments on this page. When will you people think outside the box. Tell me how many of you chose who you are now? was your births foretold in the stars? Such arrogance. You follow your programming to the letter. Oh look I am a protestant therefore I must be a unionist. On look I am a Catholic therefore I must want a United Ireland because I know that joining with the South I will be respected as an equal. Get over it. The rest of the UK that’s the 97% of the UK thankfully are not entrenched in the lunacy that is Nth Ireland. To be British does NOT mean you are protestant. Just google ‘what makes us British’. Never does it mention religion. Remember the Beatles? The greatest British band? Half of them were Catholic.
    Think what if I was born on the other side of the fence. Would your views be the same? Of course not. And that is the fundamental problem. Your tiny minds are too limited to think outside the tiny world you have closed yourself off in. Shameful

  7. This false equivalence is exactly what gives the DUP the cover to continue the denial of Rights which are freely available to people on the rest of these Islands.
    Until people like Harold begin to call out the DUP fir their ‘Never, Never’ attitude then we are destined for stalemate unfortunately.

  8. Irish is a language spoken by few.
    English is the international language. The reason for this may be to do with colonialism which does not paint a pretty picture.
    If for whatever reason people want to learn Irish let them do so .
    Should it be on public buildings why not few will understand it; one might as well put the street names in Latin.
    However, the only sore point about all this is that if you don’t work you do not get paid.
    Leaving aside the homophobic attitudes, the right of a woman to choose an abortion, etc. All pail into insignificance when compared to taking a high salary for doing no work.
    Hand your heads in shame the lot of you!

  9. I’d say the undermining of the Belfast Agreement started when the decommissioning of IRA weapons was fudged, and we were all hoodwinked by those who claimed they were all gone.
    I wonder who takes the blame for that….

  10. It will be interesting to see if they afford the this good man a reply. His heartfelt cry I fear will fall on deaf ears. I wonder if they will go to the trouble to publish their reply, as I expect it to be peppered once again with blame and intolerance. Sadly I have lost faith in the political process here in Northern Ireland, with no alternative to a Government,when the two main parties cannot agree. The so called “agreement” had nothing in the small print to address the issue of what to do when the parties couldn’t agree and so we continued to bounce along from crisis to crisis, and we are about to break the record of the longest period for a country to be without a government, and yes they continue to be paid. Come another election, this country will again put these “wasters” back in, for more of the same, for you,me, the people of Omagh and the the Northern Ireland people who deserve better.


    great piece reverend good amd very true but my question to you is have you had a reply yet from either arlene or michelle i really hope you do but unfortunately i feel you will not get a reply as both leaders are not interested in restoring devolution as when you get paid for doing nothing why would you work

  12. A wonderful letter.
    So sad that many of the replies are so negative.
    The assembly should get back or lose their pay. I think everyone now agrees on that.
    The Irish language was spoken throughout Ireland so why not allow it. I suppose the Protestant view will be that’s it’s a concession too far with all of its links to Catholics and the South.
    Irish history should be taught in all schools along with British and World history.
    The Assembly should remember that they are working for the good of the people and not their own interests.
    God Bless N.Ireland.

    • Pamela McClelland on

      We need an open and honest enquiry into the role that the British security forces played in the Omagh bombing.

      • Lorna Mawdsley on

        The Security forces ?
        Did they plant that bomb?
        Must have missed that bit of news .
        We all know where the blame lies for that atrocity but time to move on , learn from the past and make a good future for Omagh and the rest of N Ireland.
        That is what The Reverand Harold Goode is addressing in his letter and we need our Politicians,all of them ,to get back and do the job for us .

  13. Many different thoughts from many different people….which is what this wee island is all about. My thoughts …for what they’re worth… that our MLAs should get back to work now. Contentious issues like an Irish language act, etc etc should be let to one side at present and deal with those bread and butter issues like our NHS,education, infrastructure, transport MENTAL HEALTH and suicide……we all have the freedom to speak Irish/English/french etc everyday in ireland, north and south I have learnt to speak Irish…very badly….but i love the language. When people are having to use foodbanks every week to survive, and many are waiting for life saving/improving treatments, surely that should be our focus and our goal. When that’s sorted then lets sort out the other stuff, which is important but not taking precedence when so much else needs to be sorted.

  14. John from Belfast on

    I welcome the Rev..Harold Good’s expressions of frustration and hopefulness. I think when can all forget too easily that when ideologies are held to be more important than human lives then more Omagh’s must and will occur.

    Some of the comments noted here upon Rev .Good’s heartfelt plea do not even praise his efforts but used his letter to further the cause of one ideology over another. Politicians often say after a major blunder “we will learn from our mistakes”., However both sides seemed to have learned that compromise is the biggest mistake when it comes to their respective ideologies. They have learned this lesson so well that no amount of pain and suffering upon the people of this land will move them to the conclusion that not compromising is the biggest mistake of all.

    We are indeed a “stiff-necked people” we need to “wind them in.”

  15. Michael Boyle on

    Neither side should or need to “compromise” which would mean a stepping back on entrenched positions. Instead both sides should meet to find a new road they both can travel together in comfort . A new way is the only road open .

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