Town peace vigil organised in wake on threats
TWO Coalisland clerics, who have received threats following their involvement in a cross-community organisation aimed at tackling social problems including drug and alcohol abuse, are hoping local people will join them in a Vigil in the town later this week to mark the International Day of Peace.
In a bid to reinforce the message that, “Revenge is not a route we want people to consider”, Parish Priest, Fr Paul Byrne, and Church of Ireland Rector, Reverend Andrew Rawding, say it is time to “get down to basics” and restore peace within every community.
The Vigil has been organised after a number of threats, of an “undetermined nature”, were received by members of the Coalisland Cares group.
The organisation was established earlier this year in the wake of a public outcry about the rise in drug and alcohol abuse among young people within the Coalisland area.
In a statement on the group’s Facebook page, Fr Byrne and Reverend Rawding say they have been made aware of threats of violence within their community.
They go on: “Intimidation, sometimes subtle, has been visited to us on our doorsteps and threats of violence have been delivered in our homes. Some of the threats, linked to lies and rumours, have been directed at us, other threats have been directed against members of our community.
“We’re concerned, not for ourselves, as we have been called to serve in the gap of ‘the valley of the shadow of death’, but for our community.
“Clearly some people think it is acceptable to discredit and slander others, and, or, threaten violence. We recognise that some people are fearful of losing control, and their hold on the community.
“We recognise that some people have grown up with fear and violence all their lives. These people are not at peace.
“But intimidation, threats, bullying and exploitation of vulnerable people means our community is not at peace.
“As local clergy, called to care and promote peace, we cannot turn a blind eye. As a community we need to stand together to show, if we will, that ‘Coalisland Cares.’”
Speaking to the Tyrone Times, Fr Byrne confirmed that both himself and Reverend Rawding had been informed of threats, “both overt and not so overt”, made against them.
The local Parish Priest added that police are aware of the situation, saying: “There may be some people who would like to take a revengeful position in terms of drug dealers. Similarly, some families have been threatened, either through their involvement with drugs or because they are speaking out on drugs.
“As Friday is International Day of Peace, we felt it was appropriate timing for us to say, as we did as pastors, that the revenge route is not one we want people to consider.
“It is not an appropriate Christian response, and we are saying, as pastors, that we have received threats, and that this is not how we want things to go.
“There is a lack of peace in communities. A lot of unresolved issues at all levels. So on Friday we want to get down to basics and restore peace within our communities.”
The Coalisland Peace Vigil will take place at approximately 3.30pm on Friday at the Cornmill carpark in Coalisland. Everyone is welcome to come along.
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Weather for Dungannon
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
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Wind direction: North
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