GOTF Podcast - Justice Teresa Doherty
This interview includes some of the most gruesome details we’ve recorded in any of our podcasts because they relate to crimes against humanity in war. If ever we would want there to be a Guardian of the Flame of humanity it would be in a court of law when dealing with horrific crimes against the most vulnerable human beings alive today. Justice Teresa Doherty is a remarkably courageous woman who speaks in this interview extensively about a brave career devoted to the rights of the most vulnerable on this planet. It was a privilege to interview Justice Doherty who has served around the world in law and in Northern Ireland in the early days of the Troubles. In recent years she has written some of the most landmark legal opinions which have had ripple effects on cases all over the world, particularly related to the rights of women and girls in wars. In this interview she also spoke of her upbringing as a Catholic girl in pre-civil rights Northern Ireland and of her time in Papua New Guinea. Towards the end of her career she has presided over the Special Court for Sierra Leone which sentenced Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, the first sitting head of state to be convicted of war crimes. The most significant decisions she wrote were related to Gender Based Violence and in particular key opinions on sexual slavery and an opinion on forced marriage as crimes against humanity. She also wrote a definition of the use of a child in conflict as a crime against humanity which was followed afterwards by the International Criminal Court.
GOTF Podcast - Bertie Ahern: Former Irish Taoiseach
We interviewed the former Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern this week for Guardians Of The Flame. In his role leading the Irish government from 1997 he built relationships with the then new British PM Tony Blair and with the political leaders in Northern Ireland. He played a monumental role in paving the way for the Good Friday Agreement which brought a final peace to the 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. During our conversation we spoke about Bloody Sunday. This interview is being released just before the 30th January which is the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Bertie Ahern was playing Gaelic Football in Drumcondra on the north side of Dublin on the day it happened. But 26 years later in 1998 he was ushering in a lasting peace in Northern Ireland. Every Prime Minister will leave a legacy domestically and in foreign policy. For us living north of the Irish border Bertie Ahern was one of the most positively consequential leaders. In this interview he speaks of how he became friends with the late Ian Paisley, the firebrand Protestant preacher and politician. We also spoke about deep challenges facing us in the present day by Brexit which Bertie Ahern recognises as a disaster for Ireland. Peace has come in Ireland as grassroots individuals, victims and former combatants have chosen the way of peace. But political leaders have ultimately also paved the way for the peace we enjoy today by being able to make difficult and at times controversial agreements. We have a lot to thank Bertie Ahern for as we reflect on the post-Troubles society we enjoy today.
GOTF LIVE Podcast with Sami Awad
Sami Awad is a remarkable Palestinian Christian who has been deeply shaped by the life and example of Martin Luther King. Sami is an activist and a passionate believer in the power of nonviolence as a strategy to combat oppression and injustice. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to fester and become more intractable. Sami is an inspirational voice that provides real hope and a third way. His organisation is the Holy Land Trust and his talks and articles can be found in many places online. He has spent a night in an Auschwitz hut in an effort to find empathy for those who are his natural enemies, and he has led nonviolent actions around the West Bank protesting the actions of the Israeli military and the policies of the Israeli government.
GOTF LIVE Podcast with John Herron
Since we started the Guardians Of The Flame project we’ve seen how religious rhetoric and imagery can provide fuel not just for sectarian conflicts, but also for degrading and damaging LGBTQ+ people. John Herron is a friend of ours. He was a pastor in a conservative Pentecostal church for many years, he underwent so called “reparative therapy” which left him no less gay, but all the more isolated and living in a place of shame. That all changed when he was outed and faced rejection and abandonment from his church. Since then he has been on a road to healing and accepting his sexuality, not as a disease to be healed from, but something about him that makes him unique and a gift to the world. The subject of sexuality continues to be such a challenging question for Christians to engage constructively with. It is one of the main reasons why young people leave churches. We hope this live conversation with John will help heterosexual people of faith learn from his story, to reach for empathy and to move further along a path to constructive dialogue with LGBTQ people. A dialogue which is about listening and laying down the privilege of always having the microphone. For our many listeners who are not coming from a faith tradition we hope this episode gives a hopeful vision for a pluralistic society as we move into 2022.
GOTF Podcast - Pádraigin Ní Uallacháin: Music Of The Soul
Pádraigin Ní Uallacháin is a singer-songwriter as well as an academic. She has worked with the likes of celebrated Irish poets Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson and has sung and recorded with many Irish folk musicians. She has recorded her own original songs as well as uncovering in her research ancient songs and putting them to music. This is a wide ranging interview where we touch on both her music, her life and career as well as spirituality in Ireland. She also sang a few songs from some of her research and albums. This interview was recorded in the Holy Cross Abbey in Rostrevor. The monks from the Benedictine Abbey kindly let us use their church which is a perfect backdrop for Pádraigin’s beautiful and poignant voice. Pádraigin is a national treasure and is another signpost to an Ireland that treasures it’s mystical past but in a way that transcends sectarian and religious divides. Her work can be found at www.irishsong.com
GOTF Podcast - Brother Thierry Marteaux: Benedictine Spirituality & The Way of Jesus
Brother Thierry is one of the Benedictine monks from the Holy Cross Abbey in Rostrevor. It is a community of Brothers who came to Northern Ireland to be a presence of reconciliation in the midst of our ongoing religious and ethnic conflict. In normal years thousands come through their doors and just about as many Protestants come to sit at the feet of these holy men as Catholics. They truly are peace makers and their roots go deep. The spirituality of Benedictines is rooted in prayer and silence. We recorded an interview with Brother Thierry early on in our podcasts and it was a conversation full of depth and wisdom. So we wanted to record Brother Thierry on film. We touched on both the depth of Benedictine spirituality and also the residue of mistrust about institutional religion and the Catholic Church in Ireland and in much of the West. This is a warm hearted interview with a man who embodies fortitude, grace and wisdom. These gifts plus a life of prayerfulness offer a way of looking at the world that is perhaps a signpost pointing towards our true home.
GOTF Podcast - Liam Ó Maonlaí: Songs and Conversation, Live from An Cuan
Liam Ó Maonlaí is probably best known as lead singer for the Hothouse Flowers, one of the biggest bands in Ireland in the 90’s, and still loved today. As a band they are still producing music and Liam continues to collaborate with the band and with all of Ireland’s best musicians today. Liam is passionate about the Irish language, his songs are steeped in a mystical spirituality, particularly Songs From The Rain. In this interview we hear not only the story behind some of the songs but he also plays 5 beautiful stirring versions. He plays a song from Songs From The Rain, he plays a completely apt song for the Covid times we are in called Worry Not, also a hauntingly beautiful song that can be used in a Catholic mass written by Seán Ó Riada, and a Sean-nos song. Sean-nos is a very traditional way of singing Irish traditional music. All of this, as well as Liam’s exceptional musicianship and his contemplative spirit gives this interview a unique feel.
GOTF Podcast - Richard Moore: A Rubber Bullet, Forgiveness and The Dalai Llama
Richard Moore was blinded by a plastic bullet after being shot by a British soldier in Derry. This was 1972, Richard was ten years old and it was just weeks after Bloody Sunday where one of his uncles was killed. Since that time Richard has become something of a modern day saint. I remember hosting him two years ago in Rostrevor and being so blown away by what I heard. That day he quoted his friend the Dalai Llama: “we as humans have spent centuries developing the human mind, but we need to start to work on developing the human heart”. Richard is a down to earth man who is not used to complaining. He speaks in this interview, not about his lust for vengeance, but of his compulsion to forgive. In fact he speaks of developing a friendship in later life with the soldier who blinded him. This former military man did not initially say sorry. In fact it took him years. Finally he seemed to give in to the weight of mercy he was shown and expressed a “sorry” for what he had done to a 10 year old boy running through a school playground at Rosemount Primary School. Despite a lifetime of blindness Richard speaks of only a few times he dwelt on the sadness of losing his sight. He says he will often show a picture of his two girls to audiences he is speaking to. He says “you’re doing something I’ll never be able to do: you’re looking at my girls.” He then went on to talk about the gift of forgiveness, how it can’t change the past but how it can change the future. He has developed a charity “Children in Crossfire” which has impacted the lives of countless children around the world. This is an episode of profound hope in the midst of tragedy.