Northern Ireland and reconciliation


Sir, – Since God does not give media interviews, it appears He inspired the leaders of the main churches in Ireland to unite, taking advantage of the occasion of the centenary of the formation of the line of Irish division, and attempt to get as many political leaders as possible together to enable a message of hope and reconciliation be delivered to them by children.

Hence was born the prayer service that took place in the first stone church originally built by St Patrick in Armagh.

Their effort was not in vain as influential politicians from many parties and from both islands attended the prayer service. It can only be hoped that they heard and understood the message and that each will do everything in their power to fulfil the aspirations of the children. It must be remembered that God relies on the hands and actions of every person, without exception, to act for the common good of all.

Unfortunately the President of Ireland declined to attend because in his wisdom he decided that the event would become politicised. I feel sure he would now agree that this did not occur since no politician was given a platform. Whatever they may have said before, or after, the event is their own business.

Also at the last minute, Queen Elizabeth was unable to attend due to medical advice and was hospitalised on the night prior to the event. She did, however, arrange to be represented by Lord Caledon. Both absentees did not detract from an extremely well-organised prayer service.

However, the event will not become the total success it deserves until the conveyed message of everyone working together in peace and harmony, and perhaps praying, to make our island a better place for all the people of Ireland, regardless of race, belief or non-belief, is realised. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 14.

A chara, – It is not enough for the Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell and the Catholic Archbishop Eamon Martin, along with politicians North and South, to express regrets that more has not been done to end the continuing divisions within Northern Ireland. The most obvious problem is still segregation within the educational system. Until this is resolved, nothing is resolved. – Is mise,




Sir, – Despite the sincerely expressed words of regret about the past by the main church leaders at the service in Armagh on Thursday to mark partition and the centenary of Northern Ireland, they failed to offer any hope for the future by promising to actively support and work to implement integrated education. What they can control by way of segregated education, they hold firmly. As they frequently preach to their congregations, sincere regret should be accompanied by actions to undo the harm done by what is within their control. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.

Sir, – Given the regrettable atmosphere generated prior to the marking of this centenary of a sensitive historic fact, commemorated by unionists and, at best, tolerated by nationalists, I watched carefully for any hint of the mooted politicisation. Instead, I witnessed what may be the embryo of a New Ireland where all its diverse inhabitants will feel politically comfortable and confident throughout our island home. What a lost opportunity for those who chose to boycott or refused an invitation to a memorable coming together of fellow countrymen and women. Here’s to a brighter tomorrow. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Newton Emerson (“We nearly made it safely through decades of centenaries”, Opinion & Analysis, October 21st) references the period around the 50th anniversary of the 1916 rising as one of “widespread optimism”. A significant percentage of his fellow Northern Ireland residents remember it as a time of inequity in state-controlled housing, employment, and voting rights, ultimately leading to the civil rights campaign to redress these grievances. – Yours, etc,



Co Kerry.

A chara, – Reading Newton Emerson’s piece, I felt a mild regret that I probably won’t be around to experience the Centenary of the Decade of Centenaries in 2121. – Is mise,



Midlothian, Scotland.

Sir, – The only political statement at the Armagh ceremony came of course from Boris Johnson, who sported a Union Jack on his mask. – Yours, etc,


Dunshaughlin, Co Meath.

Sir, – Stephen Collins (“Higgins didn’t follow through on McAleese’s message of hope”, Opinion & Analysis, October 22nd) might be better to direct his “parity of esteem” comments to Northern unionists, many of whom display little commitment to that concept. – Yours, etc,



Co Limerick.