‘The church is part of civil society’
A former trade unionist, Rev Chris Hudson is working alongside Niall McNally, an organiser with Siptu (Services, Industry, Professional and Technical Union) Northern Ireland.
Niall hopes to build a broad-based ‘people’s movement’ in Northern Ireland to develop alternatives to austerity and build community through a shared focus.
Like Niall, Chris shares a view that the recession was created, in part, by a lack of moral values within the financial sector.
They both also believe that society needs to strengthen the values that protect those who are vulnerable to the impact of austerity.
“I am looking to build a broad range of principles and support for civil society. Principles that will help people look at the moral issues and not just the economic ones. The church is part of civil society and should be part of the dialogue about moral values.”
Niall’s work is modelled on the UK ‘coalition of resistance’ idea that has been developed by Tony Benn to tackle the impact of austerity, and which involves people from across different communities.
Despite the fact they represent different institutions, both Niall and Chris recognise that they need to make compromises – and that different perspectives need to be accepted in order to work together for an effective, strong, civil society.
“Religion is about the journey, the pilgrimage and it is about making a better society. We have an obligation and a duty to do that and to meet and join with all sorts of people on the way.”
“This is about moral issues and values which are shared. It is important that we recognise people have lost their centre of gravity, their moral sense. The church, politicians and trades unions need to act together, to listen and help people regain their values. You have to be informed by a set of values – whether it be socialist or religious values – and they have to inform what you do. Otherwise we just end up crucifying each other.”