COI Gazette – 28th September 2018

The Gazette – future plans

28th Sept

For the past 162 years The Church of Ireland Gazette, published by Church of Ireland Press, has provided a platform for the news and views of the Church on an all-Ireland basis, drawing together the people of the Church. Founded as a monthly journal, the Gazette became weekly in 1880.

The editor of the Gazette and the board of Church of Ireland Press are delighted to be able to announce the launching of the printed and online versions of the Gazette, in magazine format, as a monthly publication. This exciting change will be made in January 2019.

Guiding principles

The memorandum of association of the Church of Ireland Press Ltd, the company that owns the Gazette, sets out the guiding principles for the Gazette. “The object for which the company is established is to advance the Christian religion among the people of Ireland in accordance with the doctrines of the Church of Ireland …” That remains our guiding principle. We are proud to be an independent voice within the Church.

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Editorial

THE ART OF LISTENING

‘The quality of your attention determines the quality of other people’s thinking.’ (Nancy Kline)

A man was wondering if his wife had a hearing problem. So, one night, he stood behind her while she was sitting in her lounge chair. He spoke softly to her, “Honey, can you hear me?” There was no response. He moved a little closer and said again, “Honey, can you hear me?” Still, there was no response. Finally, he moved right behind her and said, “Honey, can you hear me?” She replied, “For the third time – yes!” (www.audiologytalk.com)

Listening is harder than we think. So much so that Eugene Raudsepp says that “listening is an art that requires work, self-discipline and skill. The art of communication springs as much from knowing when to listen as it does from knowing how to use words well.”

Conversation of any sort requires two essential skills – an ability to communicate what we think, but also an ability to listen to the other person.

The temptation with listening is that we can see it merely as a breathing space for us to marshal our thoughts to work up to say what we want to say in the next gap in the conversation. That is not so much practicing the art of listening as mastering what James Comey describes as ‘the Washington listen’.

Comey is a former FBI director and Washington insider. In his book, A Higher
Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, he describes what conversation often looks like in the power circles of Washington. “To them, listening is a period of silence, where someone else talks before you say what you were planning to say all along. We see these exchanges in nearly every ‘debate’ on television. It is the candidate sitting on the stool, waiting for the light to go on, then standing up and saying their prearranged talking points, while someone else says their prearranged talking points back at them. It is just words reaching ears, but not getting into a conscious brain. That is the ‘Washington listen’.”

So, what is the holy grail of the ability to listen? Are there some quick ‘Listening in five easy steps’ skills that we can put into practice? If you were to google ‘listening skills’ such a quick-fit list would indeed appear. Such lists seem to boil down to very simple practices – to be respectful and to talk less than we listen. That and a willingness to work at it.

Do you now find yourself thinking, “Well, I hope they (whoever they might be) are reading this”? If you do, then welcome to the trap all of us fall into with embarrassing regularity. It is true – listening is harder than we think!


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Letter to the editor

Unfinished Search

IN THE extract from his book, Unfinished Search, which appeared in the Gazette issue of 14th September, Lord Eames indicates that the public reaction to the recognition payment recommendation in the report of the former Consultative Group on the Past (CGP), which he co-chaired with Denis Bradley, “prevented any reasonable analysis of the remainder of our work.”

However, while certainly the recognition payment caused much disquiet, there is clear evidence that it did not in fact prevent proper analysis of the wider conclusions and recommendations of the CGP.

The CGP, which reported in 2009, made 31 recommendations. In July 2010, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) published a 47-page summary of the res- ponses to a public consultation on those recommendations. That summary, which is available online (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/ issues/politics/docs/nio/ nio190710cgp.pdf ), shows that, where clear views on issues were expressed, there was generally a mixed response to all the proposals from organisations, academics and specialists, and an overwhelmingly negative response from private individuals.

The summary also outlines the various considered views expressed by respondents. For example, in relation to the centrepiece recommendation that a Legacy Commission should be established, the response was mixed in terms of organisations’ responses, with a clear view on the matter (22 for and 15 against) but overwhelming in terms of individuals’ responses (out of 174, there were 165 against). The NIO summary indicated that their term ‘organisations’ referred to “organisations, parties or professionals such as academics or medical experts.”

In terms of analysis, NIO indicated that concerns about the proposed Legacy Commission included the
issue of its independence, its essentially bureaucratic structure, a perceived potential for it to focus disproportionately on state forces, and the view that combining the justice process with information and reconciliation functions would undermine the pursuit of justice. The views outlined of those favouring the Legacy Commission were not particularly extensive, focusing on a general welcome for its underlying principles and for its ‘integrated’ approach.

On the recognition payment proposal, NIO indicated: “Most organisations who responded rejected the proposal, with 20 opposing the recommendation and 8 supporting it. 169 of the 174 individuals who responded also rejected the proposal.” The reasons for and against are clearly set out.

There was a considerable saga surrounding the Church of Ireland’s response to this proposal and to the consultation document as a whole. Reports of this were published in the Gazette issue of 27th November 2009 et passim.

What is clear from NIO’s summary, which emphasises that the consultation was essentially about views rather than statistics, is that the 31 recommendations were subjected to proper analysis and were strongly, and reasonably, contested.

Even if the opinions of all the individuals responding are set to one side, the division of opinion among organisations, academics, experts, etc., is clear to see.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that the ideas proposed in the CGP report cannot be amended in light of concerns expressed. However, the wisdom or otherwise of the latest Legacy Bill proposals, currently out to public consultation until 5th October, is another matter.

Ian M. Ellis (Canon)

Newcastle Co. Down


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