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Sunday, August 16, 1998 Published at 07:50 GMT 08:50 UK

National day of mourning call

Robin Eames: "We do not ask for a red carpet to paradise"

Churches in Northern Ireland are being asked to organise a national day of mourning to remember the victims of the Omagh car bomb.

Trimble: "The whole community has voted for the peaceful path"
The First Minister, David Trimble, said the occasion would allow the people of Northern Ireland to unite and express their grief.

"It would also show their determination that ths atrocity will not deflect us from the way forward."

Prayers are being said in churches across Ireland and the rest of the world for the dead and injured in Omagh.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, The Most Rev Dr Robert Eames, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, spoke of "a greater hope".

"That hope has got to be protected from any diminishment," he said.

Robin Eames: "Even in your stony hearts, you would have been moved"
Archbishop Eames sat with bereaved relatives on Saturday night and those who had survived the blast.

He was asked if he had words for the bombers. "All I can say to them is if you had sat with me last night, if you had heard what I have heard, if you had listened to the anguish of those who had lost loved ones, even in your stony hearts, you would have been moved.

"From the church's point of view, all I am concerned about are not political arguments, not political niceties. I am concerned about the torment of ordinary people who don't deserve this."

'We cannot fail people'

He said all his public ministry over the years had been "exercised" by the Troubles. "I have had to pick myself up and help to pick up my colleagues time and time again when their own faith has been questioned.

"I think it is a token of the Christian faith that we do not ask for a red carpet to paradise. We are in this with the people we try to serve.

"They turn to their churches time and time again. We cannot fail them but above all else we have to preach the gospel of understanding, compassion and strength.

"Even last night I saw evidence of how people are yearning to get that."

Archbishop Eames touched on politicial issues. "I think this is the time when Northern Ireland needs to have proved to it by government, by politicians, by anyone in a position of leadership; it needs proved to it beyond all doubt, that when we put our trust in the Good Friday Agreement, we were not misled.

"That when we trust the democratic process, we were not misled; and when we place our trust in politicians who say there is a better way, that people are not misled."

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