COI Gazette – 2nd November 2012

Enniskillen clergy attend reception in Buckingham Palace

Dean Kenneth Hall (left) and Canon Peter O’Reilly are pictured
in Enniskillen prior to their visit to Buckingham Palace.

The Very Revd Kenneth Hall, Dean of Clogher and rector of Enniskillen, Diocese of Clogher, and the Very Revd Canon Peter O’Reilly, parish priest of Enniskillen, recently attended a reception in Buckingham Palace at the invitation of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

The reception was for those who had helped to organise various events to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee earlier this year and included a number of celebrities who had contributed to the festivities of the Diamond Jubilee weekend itself at the beginning of June.





On 10th November, the people of the Republic of Ireland will be voting on the Children Referendum which, if passed, will introduce a new Article into the Constitution (Article 42A) and at the same time delete Article 42.5.

As the Referendum Commission has explained, Article 42A would introduce an explicit statement “recognising and affirming that children have natural and imprescriptible rights and stating that the State has an obligation to ensure, as far as practicable, that those rights are protected and vindicated”. The new Article also provides that, in the event of proceedings concerning children’s welfare, “the views of a child capable of forming his or her own views be obtained and given due weight having regard to the age and maturity of the child”. The Commission further indicates that while many of the current laws refer to the “best interests” or the “welfare” of the child being the paramount consideration, this is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, a situation being remedied by the proposed new Article.

There is a very wide consensus in favour of the proposed Constitutional amendment.

Indeed, the former senator and Supreme Court judge, Catherine McGuinness, has pointed out in The Irish Times recently that the “best recommendation” for the amendment lies in the broad support it has received, mentioning Barnardos, the IS PCC , the Children’s Rights Alliance and Campaign for Children, which she chairs.

Opponents of the amendment place great emphasis on the need for a change of attitude towards children as opposed to a Constitutional change, and some fear too much power to intervene being given to the State. While there is no doubt that attitudinal change is a priority, the proposed Constitutional amendment could very well help towards that very end. As far as State intervention is concerned, the proposed amendment makes it clear that the State may intervene only in “exceptional circumstances”.

The referendum provides an opportunity to highlight, in the most formal way possible, the rights and the welfare of children. It is a matter of concern, however, that relatively few people seem to be fully aware of the implications of the proposal.

All citizens have the responsibility to inform themselves and, having done so and weighed the matter seriously, actually to vote on 10th November. The Mothers’ Union has given due consideration to the proposed amendment and has recommended a ‘Yes’ vote. While the Church naturally should avoid any attempt, perceived or otherwise, to direct people how to vote, the advice of the MU is surely a reliable and good guide.

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Letters to the Editor

Teacher Trainning

As a former principal of a Church of Ireland primary school, an article in the 14th September Gazette, entitled ‘Teacher Training Changes Ahead – College of Education may merge with other Dublin institutions’, fills me with alarm and concern for the long-term identity and standing of the Church of Ireland community.

We are a tiny minority within a State that “cherishes all citizens equally”. A variety of reasons – economic, political and social – have tried to justify our Church of Ireland community being squeezed out:

• Small primary schools under threat due to revised teacher retention numbers;

• School transport cuts;

• Grants to our fee paying schools threatened.

Now, there is a proposal for our teacher training to be sited on St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, in conjunction with Mater Dei Institute and aligned with Dublin City University.

It is obvious that an erosion, if not a total destruction, of the Church of Ireland identity and ethos is being signalled.

For 90 years, the Church of Ireland College of Education has had a close working relationship with Trinity College. Why can this not continue? I understand that this option is still open for consideration by the Board of Trinity and the Church of Ireland College of Education.

The all-inclusive environment that is embraced on the campus of TCD , together with its long-standing relationship with CIC E, would, I feel, better serve to preserve and foster the ethos and traditions of our Church of Ireland teacher training than the campus of St Patrick’s College, under the new proposals, would provide.

I understand that a common formal process is under way for the latter proposal to be seriously considered. Will this process be complete for the submission of CAO forms for teacher training in 2013 and with DCU being named as the awarding body for the CICE graduates? This degree is currently awarded by TCD .

Change is inevitable. It is therefore imperative that all stakeholders (not just in the educational sphere but within the wider Church of Ireland areas of influence) must secure the best possible option to protect our Church of Ireland identity and ensure that our schools will continue to have teachers trained in our strong tradition.

Hazel McClean Hollystown Dublin 15

A church as a film set

By definition, a church is a place of worship, a house consecrated for the worship of God by Christians. Increasingly, however, it is open for other uses, for example, a film set. My parish church is a beautiful, centuries-old building, obviously perfect for some for such a use.

When approached by a large film company making episodes of a serial for BSkyB, its select vestry unanimously agreed, the congregation not being told of this until very shortly before filming commenced.

Filming entailed the erection of scaffolding around all the windows, with large drapes omitting all light; a confessional booth was placed within the church, with a large statue of the Virgin Mary; incense was burnt.

In essence, the church became a noisy film set within and without, the car parks being crammed with vehicles throughout the working day. It remained so from Monday to late Friday night inclusive, clearing occurring the following morning.

The church, in my opinion, was not available for its consecrated use for that period. The church was used for the making of a doubtful juvenile comedy typical of the modern genre.

I understand that Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin has been used for the making of an historical series for the BBC and that at least one Roman Catholic local church has been used for the making of a ‘soap opera’ for RTÉ.

The Constitution of the Church of Ireland states that it shall be the duty of the churchwardens to ensure that the churches under their care are not used “for any common or profane purpose” (III .I.26).

The purpose of this letter is to enquire whether readers have any views on this subject.

K.P. Baker (Professor Emeritus) Slieve Killian Blacklion Greystones Co. Wicklow

Drug educator training

A recent survey shows that one in four 11-16 yearolds in Northern Ireland have been offered drugs (including solvents) and one in ten have taken drugs in the last year.

Excessive alcohol consumption is causing relationship problems, crime and accidents among young people as well as adults.

The use of ‘legal highs’ is increasing, with unknown consequences.

It is time for the Church to take action to prevent binge drinking and other drug-related problems in Northern Ireland.

Hope UK is a national Christian Drug Prevention charity hoping to begin free Open College Network accredited training in January 2013 for a team of Christian volunteers to become Drug Educators.

Could any Gazette readers be one of them? I can be contacted for more information on the training at the postal/email addresses below.

Nicola Molloy N. Ireland Project Worker Hope UK 25f Copperfield St London SE1 0EN


Features and Columns

  • Focus on Family Faith – Growing Family Faith – In the first of two articles, Andrew Brannigan, Down and Dromore Youth Officer and author of Family Time – a free, devotional resource for families, looks at some of the difficulties involved in impressing faith on children and teaching them about God.
  • Soap – Down at St. David’s
  • Rethinking Church – Stephen Neil – A is for Apostolic, B is for Bishop, C is for Church
  • Life Lines – Ron Elsdon – Saints all

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