Forgiveness under the spotlight in Cookstown

Margaret Hamilton, Cookstown Churches Forum, Sean McElhatton, Emily Brough, Irish Peace Churches Project, Rev Andrew Rawding, Helen Ryan and Joan Armstrong, Dungannon Churches Forum launch Forgiveness - 'A Step Too Far'
Margaret Hamilton, Cookstown Churches Forum, Sean McElhatton, Emily Brough, Irish Peace Churches Project, Rev Andrew Rawding, Helen Ryan and Joan Armstrong, Dungannon Churches Forum launch Forgiveness - 'A Step Too Far'

A series of discussions on forgiveness featuring speakers who lost relatives in the Troubles will be held in Cookstown over the coming weeks.

The events will address the questions - what does it mean to forgive? should we forgive? who should be forgiven? is forgiveness a step too far?

The ‘Forgiveness’ seminars are taking place at the Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown, over three consecutive Thursdays, starting on 5th March at 7pm, organised through the Irish Churches Peace Project.

Award winning film, ‘A Step too Far? – a contemplation on forgiveness’ by local film-maker Paul Moorhead will be shown in three parts across the three weeks, followed by guest speakers and discussion.

The film explores the Amish community in the USA and their approach to forgiveness, and includes interviews with a number of people closer to home, including Alan McBride, who lost his wife in the Shankill bomb, and Brian Lennon, Jesuit priest and community activist, who has recently written a book on forgiveness.

Speakers will include Peter McBride, Director of the Northern Ireland Association for Mental Health; former loyalist prisoner Alistair Little, whose journey from political violence to peace-building was the subject of award-winning film “Five Minutes of Heaven,” starring Liam Neeson and Jimmy Nesbitt.

Local SDLP Councillor, Denise Mullen, whose father was shot at the family home near Moy in 1975 when she was only four years old, will also take part in the discussions.

The event is being supported by Cookstown District and Dungannon Area Churches and Clergy Forums, the Good Relations Departments of Cookstown and Dungannon Councils, and the Rural Community Network.

It has been organised through the Irish Churches Peace project, which is supported by the European Union’s PEACE III Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

Reverend Andrew Rawding, Chair of Cookstown & Dungannon Clergy Forums, explained the importance of the discussions.

He said: “This is a great opportunity, as we approach Easter, to explore the journey of forgiveness, which is at the heart of Christianity.”

ICPP is an initiative of the Church of Ireland, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Methodist Churches, and the Irish Council of Churches, set up to promote reconciliation in our communities through churches working together. Further information is available at www.icpp.info, or to find out more about this event, contact Emily Brough, Good Relations Officer with the ICPP at emily@icpp.info or 0784 177 6868.