The 2019 edition of the 4 Corners Festival (30 Jan-10 Feb) was launched on Friday, with Derry man Richard Moore addressing a prayer breakfast at the Holy Family parish centre in North Belfast. The 2019 Festival theme is ‘scandalous forgiveness’ – something which has characterised Moore’s life.
When he was ten-years-old, Moore was walking home from school when he was struck and blinded by a plastic bullet fired by a British soldier. He never regained his sight. But he has gone on to lead a full and successful life, which has included setting up the charity ‘Children in Crossfire.’
Moore has spoken openly on many occasions about how he came to forgive the soldier, who is called Charles, and sought out a meeting with him.
Recently, Moore has been featured in Patrick Kielty’s documentary on the Troubles and in Aidan Donaldson’s book, The Beatitudes of Pope Francis: A Manifesto for the Modern Christian.
Click here to see a clip from the Kielty documentary.
In this short video from his address, Moore refers to Charles and then outlines the two most important things he has learned about forgiveness:
- Forgiveness is first and foremost a gift you give yourself
- Forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but it can change the future
He said the second point is especially important for Northern Ireland today. You can read a fuller account of Moore’s address on Rev Steve Stockman’s blog.
4 Corners is an explicitly Christian festival, founded seven years ago by Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill and Presbyterian minister Stockman.
The 2019 programme has been designed to raise difficult questions about forgiveness. The organisers hope that these questions can feed into wider conversations about Northern Ireland’s failure to deal with its past, including how unresolved trauma and pain is preventing healing, reconciliation and the achievement of a common good.
There is a varied programme that includes discussions, talks, music, drama, sport, an art exhibition, a guided walk, a bus tour and special events for school children, and seminarians and young clergy.
The full programme can be found here. Just three of the highlights include:
‘Compassion, Radical Kinship and Forgiveness’, Sunday 3 Feb at 7pm at the Skainos Centre in East Belfast, featuring American priest Fr Gregory Boyle SJ, who is internationally renowned for his work with former gang members in Los Angeles. Boyle will be joined by former gang members, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs, and Belfast singer-songwriter Dave Thompson.
‘The Cure at Troy: Does Hope and History Rhyme?’, Monday 4 Feb at 7.30 pm at the Europa Hotel. A group of public figures perform a rehearsed reading of Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy under the direction of Trevor Gill of The Bright Umbrella Theatre Co. Those taking part include MLAs Naomi Long, Claire Hanna and Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former MLA Sammy Douglas and Glenn Bradley, chair of the Northern Ireland Business and Human Rights Forum.
‘Guardians of the Flame’ on Friday 8 Feb at 7.30 pm, Belvoir Parish Church of Ireland, a screening and panel discussion of a new documentary about the role of religion in conflict and reconciliation, featuring Alan McBride whose wife and father-in-law died in the Shankill bombing, Eugene Reavey whose three brothers were killed in the Whitecross shootings, and Beryl Quigley whose husband was shot by the IRA.
Disclaimer: I am on the organising committee of the 4 Corners Festival
Gladys is a Professor of Sociology at Queen’s University Belfast and a member of the Royal Irish Academy.
She is also a runner who has represented Ireland and Northern Ireland. She blogs on religion and politics at gladysganiel.com