Bishops warn against 'verbal terrorism': Ulster politicians are told to temper their language. David McKittrick reports
Belfast-born David McKittrick has been reporting on Northern Ireland since 1971, He has written for the East Antrim Times, the Irish Times and was The Independent's Irish correspondent for many years. He is the author of several books including Making Sense of the Troubles (2000) and Lost Lives (1999).
Thursday 09 December 1993
A number of senior Unionist politicians have issued warnings of a possible violent loyalist backlash, if the present Anglo-Irish negotiations result in an outcome unacceptable to Unionist opinion.
Yesterday, a Catholic bishop cautioned: 'There is such a thing as verbal terrorism'; his Protestant counterpart said: 'Words can kill.'
The Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Dr Patrick Walsh, was speaking at the funerals of John Todd, 31, and Brian Duffy, 15, who were gunned down by loyalist extremists at a taxi rank in north Belfast on Sunday night.
Bishop Walsh said: 'I ask today that all those who are in positions of leadership should examine their consciences - 'Have I, as a leader, especially as an elected representative, said or done anything in these past weeks that could have heightened fears, inflamed passions or fuelled sectarian bigotry?'
'Let us not forget that words can be violent. There is such a thing as verbal terrorism. Words can kill, and as we examine our consciences before God, we might reflect on the words of the psalm: 'They sharpen their tongues like swords, they aim bitter words like arrows'.'
Tuesday night's shooting of a man in east Belfast means that loyalists have killed three Catholics in 48 hours. The situation is tense in many parts of the city, with the Protestant groups evidently bent on increasing their violence. The loyalist groups often step up their campaigns in an attempt to deter the British government from making concessions to nationalists.
Bishop Walsh's sentiments were echoed by the Church of Ireland Bishop, Samuel Poyntz, who said: 'Verbal artillery is almost as lethal as the real hard stuff that comes out of machine guns, because words can kill.' Saying that some people could be goaded into using guns and bombs, he appealed to politicians to be calm, cool and very careful about what they were saying.
The Social Democratic and Labour Party has called on the Royal Ulster Constabulary to consider whether recent Unionist speeches had breached incitement-to-hatred legislation. Dr Joe Hendron, an SDLP MP, has described some statements as 'bordering on the criminal' and 'winding up loyalist paramilitaries'.
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Sex abuse inquiry: 'Victims receive death threats' after MPs release names online
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...
£28000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...