Three former hostages in Lebanon joined Monday in a call for forgiveness and peace in Northern Ireland.
Terry Anderson, Terry Waite and the Rev. Lawrence Jenco made their appeal at an international conference on resolving violent conflicts called "Beyond Hate." They planned to meet later with another former captive of Shiite Muslim militants in Lebanon, Belfast native Brian Keenan.As the three joined in their appeal, police investigated the slaying of a rural couple near the Irish border and a family in Belfast buried a son killed last week by soldiers.
Each of the former captives appeared ready to court controversy in suggesting that Northern Ireland's continuing political discussions include "the men of violence" - a position rejected by both the British and Irish governments.
"I don't think you're ever going to end the cycle (of violence) until you get at least some of those men to sit down across from you," said Anderson, who was released in December after more than six years in captivity, the longest time spent by a Westerner as a hostage in Lebanon.
Anderson, the chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, said forgiveness is a prerequisite for peace. "Violence is never for a good purpose," he said.
Jenco, a Roman Catholic priest who was freed in 1986 after a year and a half as a prisoner with Anderson, said the extremists among Northern Ireland's Protestant majority and Catholic minority must "ask for forgiveness."
"Look into yourself, see the pain and suffering that both sides have caused," he said. "Hatred is useless. It doesn't help. It hurts you, it hurts everybody."
Waite, the Anglican special envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury who helped negotiate Jenco's release and was himself taken captive in 1987, said he "certainly felt anger" toward his captors but did not now feel any desire for revenge.
He said he hoped his example would not influence "ordinary people to address old hurts" with more bloodshed.
On Saturday, Waite suggested the British government talk with Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army's political supporters, if it hoped to resolve the political impasse.
Northern Ireland's 23 years of political and sectarian violence claimed two more casualties. Charles and Theresa Fox were found shot to death in their home near the Irish border. They were discovered by their daughter, whose husband was slain by pro-British gunmen in January.
In Belfast, several hundred mourners trailed behind the coffin of 18-year-old Peter McBride, an unarmed Catholic who was shot dead Friday by British soldiers as he ran away. Two soldiers were charged with murder on Saturday.