Dublin Unitarian church to end Good Friday reading of Troubles dead

Annual commemoration will end tomorrow as no one has been killed in political violence in Northern Ireland for nearly five years

A final Good Friday reading of the names of those who died in the Troubles will take place at the Unitarian church on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green at noon on Friday.

The church’s management committee has decided that “since nobody has been killed in political violence in Northern Ireland for nearly five years, it is time to bring this act of commemoration, the only religious service of its kind in Ireland, to an end”.

Since it began in 2000, the commemorative service has involved members of the congregation and the public reading names of the nearly 3,600 people who died as a result of the conflict in Northern Ireland between 1966 and 2019. The reading usually takes about three hours.

The service was begun by Rev Chris Hudson, then a trade unionist in training to be a Unitarian pastor.

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Names of the dead are taken from the book Lost Lives, by David McKittrick, Séamus Kelters, Brian Feeney, Chris Thornton and David McVea beginning with John Patrick Scullion from west Belfast, a 28-year-old Catholic storeman killed by a loyalist gang in June 1966. Since 2019 it has ended with Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old journalist shot dead in Derry in April that year.

The dead include British soldiers, IRA members, loyalist paramilitaries, policemen and women, UDR men, prison officers, gardaí, civil rights marchers, judges, businessmen, farmers, taxi drivers, social workers, housewives, children, people walking home from the pub, watching football, at church, killed on buses or trains, while shopping, visiting London or Birmingham, in Dublin or Monaghan, Belfast or Derry, Banbridge or Omagh, or so many other towns and villages in Northern Ireland.

In a special addition to the service in 2016, the names of all those who died in Ireland during Easter week 1916 and as a consequence of the Rising were also read.

On Good Friday 2018 the late Seamus Mallon took part in the service and spoke movingly of the deaths of neighbours and friends in the Troubles, not least two young police officers blown up minutes after he and his then 12-year-old daughter Orla had been speaking to them. “I confess we both cried, cried at the awfulness of it,” he said.

Minister of the Dublin Unitarian church Rev Bridget Spain will begin and end this year’s final commemorative service with a prayer.

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