The Irish Times view on tensions within the Church of Ireland: a moment of crisis

Problems in the largest Church of Ireland diocese in the Republic are coming to a head

All is not well in the united dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough, the largest Church of Ireland diocese in the Republic by population. Tensions between Archbishop Michael Jackson and more active laity and clergy have been ongoing for some time. These came to a head last week at the annual combined diocesan synods in Dundrum’s Taney Hall.

The more immediate reason was an address Archbishop Jackson gave to the two diocesan councils of Dublin and Glendalough at a virtual meeting on March 18th last year. He was vigorous in criticisms of both councils.

Subsequently, a nine-page letter of complaint was sent by members to Archbishop of Armagh John McDowell, who initiated a mediation process. It concluded last December when Archbishop Jackson apologised. Coincident with the mediation process, a working group in consultation with Lyndon MacCann SC, also a member of the Dublin diocesan council, prepared a Bill to bring the united dioceses, as a registered charity, into line with updated charities legislation.

This was described as unnecessary by Archdeacon of Dublin David Pierpoint in debate on the Bill last week. He also said it would have “the effect of removing much authority from the office of Archbishop”. The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Dermot Dunne, said the Bill came “from dysfunctional councils” with “an underlying agenda”. There was, he added, “an elephant in the room that is not being mentioned at all”.


Rector of Taney Nigel Pierpoint said there was “a power struggle going on”. Director of DCU’s Church of Ireland Institute of Education Prof Anne Lodge said part-time ministers like her “hold a licence given to us by the Archbishop, not diocesan councils”. Despite such opposition from senior figures in the united dioceses, the Bill was passed comfortably by show of hands in all 15 votes, presided over by Archbishop Jackson himself as chair. This is a moment of crisis for Dublin and Glendalough where the authority of Archbishop Jackson and his senior colleagues are concerned. It needs to be resolved.