Spiritual policeman is fellow

September 15, 1995

A veteran clergyman who helped achieve the terrorist cease-fires in Northern Ireland has been appointed as a research fellow of the Centre for the Study of Conflict.

The Reverend Roy Magee is to spend the next three years at the centre - jointly run by the University of Ulster and the United Nations - studying conflict resolution.

Mr Magee, 65, who describes himself as a spiritual policeman, preached his final formal sermon last Sunday. It was Mr Magee who made initial contacts with loyalist paramilitaries and gradually persuaded them to call off their campaign even before the IRA ceased theirs.

The secret work involved bringing the Anglican primate Dr Robin Eames - once tipped as a possible future Archbishop of Canterbury - in for face-to-face meetings with terrorists.

But the tentative meetings were almost derailed after the outlawed loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force massacred eight Catholics as they watched television in a quiet country pub at Loughinisland.

The Presbyterian minister persuaded Dr Eames, who threatened to pull out of the meetings, to stay on board because the killings had not been "official". "I knew that Loughinisland was not authorised. The leadership of the UVF was moving in a different direction to what was happening on the ground," Mr Magee.

Initially Mr Magee's studies are to focus on post-conflict situations.

But the retiring cleric will leave academia behind if the fragile peace process in the province begins to fall apart - though he is optimistic for the future.

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