Over thirty people attended each of the launch events of Kairos Ireland drawn from Church, political and Trade Union backgrounds. The timings of the launch at the beginning of Advent emphasized the themes of hope and waiting for light in the darkness.
Speaking at the launch in the Duncairn Cultural and Community Centre in north Belfast
- The director of the Duncairn Centre, the Rev Bill Shaw welcomed those present. He described how, as a participant in a cross-community delegation from Northern Ireland to Israel and Palestine, he was shocked by the stark reality of the Occupation of Palestine by Israel. A slogan painted on the wall surrounding Bethlehem said, ‘Now you have seen it you are responsible’. For Bill this was an ‘epiphany moment’ of revelation.
- John Parkin, a Methodist minister from Dublin and chairperson of Kairos Ireland introduced the Kairos Ireland document, ‘That justice and peace might embrace’, using photographs from the document.
- Anne Deighan introduced a video message by Rifat Kassis, the coordinator of Kairos Palestine. Rifat has worked on the protection of children in Chechnya and in Palestine and has served on the World Council of Churches Ecumenical Accompaniment programme. Rifat warmly welcomed the Kairos Ireland initiative.
- The Rev. Warren Bardsley, of Kairos Britain, spoke about the power of personal conversations in changing attitudes and eventually leading to a tipping point in public opinion. As part of this process Kairos Britain is establishing ‘Kairos Communities’: church groups and justice and peace groups who are committed to working for an end to the occupation of Palestine.
- Eamon McMahon, the secretary of Trade Union friends of Palestine, introduced Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Laureate and co-founder of the Peace People. Mairead emphasised the need for conversations and contact between people in conflict situations. She spoke about a recent visit to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where she met with Rohingya victims of genocide and ethnic cleansing. She was appalled to learn that the Myanmar military sauce weapons from Israel. She made the point that Israel does what it does to Palestinians because it has a sense of impunity and this has got to change.