24 September 2005

Murder victim’s father makes plea for peace

The Irish News Online

By Sharon O’Neill

THE father of Catholic murder victim Michael McGoldrick last night issued an impassioned plea for an end to ongoing violence. Michael McGoldrick Snr, below right, was speaking ahead of a special reconciliation service on Monday at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

His comments came as sectarian attacks continue, and after the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) published its dossier on loyalist activity linked to the feud between the UVF and LVF, which since July has claimed four lives.

Mr McGoldrick’s son, also Michael (31), was shot dead by renegade UVF members at the height of the Drumcree march crisis in 1996.

The part-time taxi driver, a father-of-two, was last seen picking up a fare on July 8.

His body, slumped over the wheel of his car on a remote country lane near Aghalee, was found by a man out hunting.

The trial of prominent loyalist Clifford McKeown, who was convicted of the murder in 2003, heard that the killing was carried out as a birthday present to the now dead loyalist Billy Wright.

He formed the LVF after splitting with the UVF in the wake of Mr McGoldrick’s murder.

On Monday, the victim’s father will attend a special inter-denominational event at St Anne’s with former UVF prisoner Jim Tate.

Mr Tate, who was convicted of arms offences in the early 1970s, turned his back on violence after being released from jail.

After meeting Mr Goldrick at his Co Armagh home, the pair have struck up a close friendship.

“For him to offer the hand of friendship had a great impact on my life,” recalled Mr Tate.

“We talked about our situations. It was a great time of forgiveness and asking for forgiveness, especially from me being an ex-loyalist prisoner.

“Monday is about healing the hurts of the past. It is a time of testimony, reconciliation and prayer.”

Mr Tate is dismayed by the continuing violence and that linked to the UVF.

He appealed:“Stop, there is no call for it”.

“I think it is atrocious, I totally disagree with it. I had respect for people like David Ervine (PUP leader), people within the Catholic community were gaining respect for him.

“Unfortunately the militants appear to have got the upper hand.”

For Mr McGoldrick the key is forgiveness: “After what happened to myself and my wife, as a Christian you are obligated to forgive...

“Through a healing process, life is better. People have to realise, if you get hatred and sectarianism out of your heart, you feel better within yourself.

“In my humble Christian opinion God does not want them (the paramilitaries) to hurt their fellow man.

“I would appeal to everybody to put out the hand of friendship. We have to do that to make this world a better place for everyone..”

Monday’s service commences at 8pm.

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