Speaking to The Irish Catholic newspaper in the context of the 2021 anniversary of the partition of the island of Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin stated that 2021 is a “hinge year”.
The Primate said, “Clearly as a nationalist myself, as growing up in a nationalist community, I would have a yearning that that sense of belonging is something that could be shared by all of the people in the island of Ireland.”
Emphasising the importance of the coming year as a chance for reconciliation, he continued, “I think that we will never reach there unless we are open to understanding each other, and I think that 2021 provides an opportunity for greater understanding of where we’ve come from and indeed where we might go together into the future.
“I would like to see the 2021 centenary as an opportunity for greater mutual understanding, for opportunities to build further reconciliation and peace…I am somewhat disappointed that many of our nationalist and republican political leaders have dismissed the centenary of 2021 altogether because for me I think it’s really important to seize it as a moment to reflect on where we’ve come from.”
The key to reconciliation in the eyes of Archbishop Martin is the recognition of the different perspectives on belonging held by people on the island. He said, “If we could accept that people on this island approach their belonging from very different perspectives – that was key to the Good Friday Agreement: that we would recognise legitimate aspirations on the island and that to me is something that we’re better not to run away from, but to face.
“And if there is ever to be greater mutual understanding and living together on the island of Ireland, then we need to be able to face difficult moments and difficult episodes from our history we need to be able to face it openly.”