COI Gazette – 9th March 2018

Archbishop of Canterbury on historic visit to Londonderry

Archbishop Welby meets Muriel Hamilton in St Columb’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Welby meets Muriel Hamilton in St Columb’s Cathedral.

The Archbishop of Canterbury paid a brief visit to Londonderry on Thursday 22nd February, during a three- day trip to Northern Ireland.

The Most Revd Justin Welby was accompanied by around 60 Anglican clerics who were taking part in a leadership development course.

The party included three bishops as well as clergymen and clergywomen representing every diocese of the Church of England. The visit was described as a private pilgrimage and the group’s itinerary took them to Belfast and Corrymeela, as well as Londonderry.




Did we all imagine it? Years ago, was there really a story about a budget airline that planned to give discounted fares to passengers who were willing to stand for the whole journey? Or another one about how passengers were going to be charged for using the toilet during flights? None of those things ever came to pass but it certainly got us all talking about budget air travel and certain airlines at the time.

It’s always an interesting experience to fly with an airline where you can’t pre-book your seats. Interesting or stressful – take your pick! What is it about airplanes with no pre-booked seats that makes everyone desperate to get on early so that they can choose their seat? I suppose it means you don’t have to take the only one left, that happens to be beside the toilet.

Either that, or you can choose to be near the exit when the mad dash to disembark comes – saving all of about 10 seconds in the race for passport control. It also means you get to stow your cabin baggage above your head, as opposed to the far end of the plane.

Whatever the reason, there is always a rush to get on early. The trouble is that no one can let on that this is what they are trying to do. After all, who wants to look like a twit? Apart from the few that have a brass neck and jump the queue the rest of us do ‘the shuffle’. We all look as
though we don’t really care and move towards the departure gate in a bored-looking sort of way. But, behind the look of ‘I’m above all this and better than you lot’, it really is a race.

You always get the characters in the race that isn’t a race … because everyone is pretending that it isn’t. Like the people complete with their backpacks and new ‘I got these clothes for my holiday’ outfits. They place themselves like athletes on the starting blocks. In the queue, going through departures or placing themselves to get off the bus at the plane, they have more steely determination than an Olympic athlete to get ahead. They provide more entertainment than a free, inflight movie – unless we are ‘those’ people.

Scrambling for a seat on a budget airline is not unlike the way politics is getting done in Northern Ireland. The trick is the same – to secretly race to get ahead but never to let anyone know that this is what you are really doing. The skill is to get there first before the other lot, but to pretend that this is the last thing on your mind.

Like the unspoken rush to get on a plane, it all starts to look slightly ridiculous when people start to realise what’s really going on. We desperately need more than sectarian politics that just has a better class of PR.


Home News

  • Prayers on the Move throughout Dublin’s transport network
  • Certificate in Christian Studies launched in Cork, Cloyne and Ross
  • Bible Comes to Life exhibition opens in Enniskillen
  • Life-saving spaniel pays visit to Belfast Cathedral
  • Donegal parish praised for saying, ‘now is the time for this to be done’
  • Connor parish family weekend
  • Lecture will address divine role in natural disasters
  • Historic portraits to be restored and displayed in ‘St Columb’s Cathedral
  • Dublin Black Santa Sit Out proceeds distributed to local charities



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Letters to the Editor

Abortion – Eighth Amendment

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED members of the Church of Ireland, welcome that our Archbishops’ statement on 5th February on the Eighth Amendment expresses pastoral concern for women and that they cannot ethically accept unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks, or at any stage. However, the overarching message of their statement disturbs us greatly.

Article 40.3.3 says “The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and … the equal right to life of the mother …”. The Archbishops favour its modification, yet fail to give a reason why the protection it affords the unborn is inappropriate or contrary to our Church’s tradition based on Scripture. Surely it expresses legally what we know biblically; that every human being, irrespective of size or degree of development or dependency, is made in God’s image and entitled to our protection.

The statement says that “Instances where the life of the woman is at serious risk have long been regarded within Church of Ireland teaching as situations where termination of a pregnancy would be justifiable.” Termination of pregnancy through removal of the baby in such circumstances is current legal medical practice in Ireland (e.g. in cases of ectopic pregnancy or septic miscarriage) and this was recently clarified in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013. This is because it is better to save one life, the mother, than to lose two. Article 40.3.3 does not need to change to accommodate this.

The Archbishops state that “unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept”. However, unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks is the stated recommendation of the Oireachtas committee and the intention of the Minister for Health. We fail to understand how the Archbishops feel it is appropriate to recommend the modification of Article 40.3.3, knowing that this will most likely facilitate legislation which they consider unethical.

Furthermore, while the Archbishops consider it unethical to allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks, they fail to give a reason why it is not unethical in every case where the mother’s life is not in danger, such as cases of potentially fatal foetal abnormalities or sexual crime. Though these are tragic, challenging circumstances, the humanity of the unborn, and his/her preciousness in God’s sight does not change depending on physiological development or the circumstances of conception. The statement “for some, pregnancy after sexual crime or the medical certainty of fatal foetal abnormality might also be seen as circumstances where abortion could be considered as justified” implies that the decision to take an innocent, defenceless life is a matter of personal opinion or preference. Instead, we advocate for full support for all involved in these tragic situations – the women, their families and the unborn.

The Church of Ireland tradition is to look to the Holy Scriptures for all matters of faith and conduct, trusting our Heavenly Father that his commands are true and for our good. We also trust that it is the right thing to uphold justice for the weak and vulnerable even if it is costly. Thus, we should seek to maintain our constitution which protects the most vulnerable, honouring them as fellow humans made in God’s image and we should support women who bravely continue with pregnancies despite societal expectations.

John Armstrong, Julianstown Parish, Co Meath; Muriel Armstrong, Julianstown Parish, Co Meath; Patrick Bamber (Canon) Rector, Calry Parish Church, Co.Sligo; Ruth Bridcut, Immanuel Church, Dublin; Hazel Bridcut, Immanuel Church, Dublin; James Darling, Kill O’The Grange Parish, Co. Dublin; Simon Donohoe (The Revd), Minister, Swanlinbar Group of Parishes, Co. Cavan; Shelagh Elder, Athy Union of Parishes, Co. Kildare; Esther Emanuel, Immanuel Church, Dublin; Audrey Evans, St Patrick’s Church, Greystones, Co. Wicklow; Rodney Evans, St Patrick’s Church, Greystones, Co. Wicklow; Robert Fannin, Drung Parish, Co. Cavan;  Peter T. Hanna (The Revd), Auxiliary Ministry, Co. Cork; Mabel Harper, St John’s Church, Kilkenny; Claire Haworth, Stradbally Union of Parishes, Co. Laois; Jeremy Haworth, Stradbally Union of Parishes, Co. Laois; Liz Hemmings, Kill O’The Grange Parish, Co. Dublin; Dorothy Jones, Drung Group of Parishes, Co. Cavan; Nick Jones (The Revd & Rector), Drung Group of Parishes, Co. Cavan; Henry Jordan, Drung Parish, Co. Cavan; Elsie Judge, Holy Trinity Church, Westport, Co. Mayo; Desmond Lowry, Ballyhaise Parish, Co. Cavan; Esther Lynch, Immanuel Church, Dublin; Kieron Lynch, Immanuel Church, Dublin; R. Seathrún Mac Éin, Cumann Gaelach na hEaglaise/ Irish Guild of the Church; Cecil Medcalf, St Matthew’s Church, Irishtown, Co. Dublin; Joan Medcalf, St Matthew’s Church, Irishtown, Co. Dublin; David Martin ( The Revd), Director, Irish Church Missions; Edmond Moynan, Abbeyleix and Killermogh Union of Parishes, Co. Laois; Elizabeth Moynan, Abbeyleix and Killermogh Union of Parishes, Co. Laois; Warren Nelson (The Revd) Retired, Co. Offaly; Harry Newett, Dunleer Parish, Co.Louth; Olive Newett, Dunleer Parish, Co.Louth; Samuel Peilow, Immanuel Church, Dublin; Dr Lester Scott (The Revd), Rector of Fenagh Group & Rural Dean of Leighlin, Co. Carlow; Damian Shorten, Riverstown Group of Parishes, Co. Sligo; Amy Shorten, Riverstown Group of Parishes, Co. Sligo; Roberta Smyth, Larah Parish, Co. Cavan; Olive Sturgeon, Killoughter Parish, Co. Cavan; Robert Sturgeon, Killoughter Parish, Co. Cavan; Capt Richard Waller C.A. (The Revd), Bishop’s curate, Kildallon group of parishes, Co. Cavan; Christopher Wray, Immanuel Church, Dublin.


Bethany Homes

THE BETHANY HOMES SURVIVORS are now in their 20th year of struggle for justice. Those still alive are in their advanced years. As you will know their case all centres around the eligibility or not of Bethany Homes being included in the Schedule of Institutions to Residential Institutions Redress Act.

To date departmental officials have continued to advise successive Ministers of Education and Health that the State had no regulatory function in respect of Bethany Homes. It is Derek Linster’s view that there is abundant documentary evidence that the State did have a regulatory role. Why is a small Bethany Home for Protestant children and young people constantly excluded from enquiry after enquiry?

I am aware the Commission  cannot direct the Education or Health Depts. However, I draw your attention to the Commission’s own findings on Bethany Homes in the Second Interim Report (July 2016). That report points to a catastrophic set of decisions made about Bethany Homes, that Derek Linster has spent 20 years trying to rectify.

The Second Interim Report of the Commission of Investigation clearly casts doubt on the decisions to exclude Bethany Homes from the schedule of Institutions included in the Redress Act (RIRA). See Sections 4-16 and 4-27 of the Commission’s Second Interim Report.

I quote: “The Commission has not seen evidence that the Health Authorities were involved in the establishment of the Bethany Homes, but it has seen clear evidence that the State made financial contributions in  respect of some residents and did exercise an inspection/ regulatory role.”

The Commission also recommended that the decision on Bethany Homes and other institutions should be reviewed. The evidence found by the Commission to investigate Mother and Baby Homes and County Homes, suggested that Bethany Homes as well as some other institutions had a “strong case” for inclusion.

The Commission suggested reopening the Redress Scheme. Most importantly, it appears that the then Education Minister, in a debate with Senators, confirmed during the debate that Bethany Homes “would probably be included in the schedule”. No need, it seemed, for the motion due to be presented by Senators recommending the inclusion of Bethany Homes. On the
assurance of the minister at the time, the motion to include Bethany was not tabled in the Seanad debate. The minister’s assumptions that Bethany Homes would be included were accepted by participating Senators.

With no reference to Bethany Homes in the Third Interim Report, it now appears that if they were reviewed at all it will not be until 2019. It seems Bethany Homes falls into the category of issues that it would not be in the “public interest to consider”. (Extract from Third Interim Report). Where is the justice in that? They feel totally abandoned again.

The attention is currently on establishing the truth around the burial of babies who died and who were buried indifferently – attention which I support and understand completely. (My own mother lost two babies
in St Patrick’s, Dublin, and Bessborough, Cork)

However, I think that the Bethany Home Survivors will feel bitterly disappointed that their fight for justice is in effect kicked into late 2019. Derek asks why can’t the Bethany Homes survivors’ claim for inclusion in the Redress Scheme be addressed by the Education Minister, in parallel with the examination and exhumation of our lost babies’ remains and related investigations?

This small surviving group of elderly Protestant people continue to be unfairly and unjustly treated. I would be most grateful for your response and any support you can provide.

Cllr Sally Mulready – London Irish Centre London


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