The following is a response published in The Newsletter to our concerns raised about Arndrew Rawdings comments
A former infantry officer turned clergyman who described the IRA as soldiers has apologised for offending security force widows and families.
London-based the Rev Andrew Rawding referred to the IRA as soldiers in a radio interview last week as he began a sponsored walk for a cross-community outreach bus in south Armagh.
Yesterday, he said he would like to acknowledge the many families still grieving for husbands, sons and brothers killed by the IRA in south Armagh.
The former infantry officer served in Ulster from 1991-94 and survived two bomb attacks, one in Newry which killed a good friend.
"I never intended to hurt anyone. In fact, I was hoping to contribute to a healing process," said Mr Rawding, now an Anglican curate.
"If the perception was that I was con- doning kllings, that was never the case.
"God opposes murder whether the perpetrator is Irish, British or whatever, but He also reaches out to changepeople's hearts. He loves the sinner buthates the sin.
"Many former English soldiers think of the IRA as a professional and deadly army. "Hence, I still think of them as soldierswhich, as an ex-soldier myself, is whatI can identify with.
"I still reach out in peace to buildbridges with south Armagh as it has hadsuch hostility to England.
"For English soldiers on short tours,it often seemed like a battle fought frombarracks against a foreign army.
"In contrast, I know local securityforces lived with the constant threat ofdeath throughout their civilian livestoo.
"I acknowledge my limited understanding of the Troubles but hope for afuture of healing and respect between the communities."
Willie Frazer of victims' group FAIR said he still rejected Mr Rawding’s description of the IRA as soldiers. They murdered defenceless women children and unarmed off-duty RUC and UDR men,” he said
“And we are coming across increasingincidents where the SAS could havekilled more units but were held back for political reasons. That was not aproper war."
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