Irish minister would be ‘very proud’ to attend Armagh service shunned by Michaeal D Higgins

Irish Government minister Heather Humphreys has said she would be “very proud” to represent the state at an Armagh church service President Michael D Higgins has declined to attend.

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 9:23 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 10:25 pm
Heather Humphreys TD. Photo: Matt Mackey / Presseye.com

Mr Higgins has faced a barrage of criticism over his decision to stay away from the service next month – marking 100 years since the partition of Ireland and the NI centenary – which has been organised by the four main church leaders.

He claimed the title of the event had been “politicised,” and said it would be inappropriate for the head of state to attend an event that “commemorates partition”.

In a joint statement, the Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist church leaders said: “A Service of Reflection and Hope to mark the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland will take place in Saint Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, on Thursday, 21 October 2021.”

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Speaking on the Newstalk radio programme on Wednesday morning, Ms Humphreys said she would have no issue with attending.

The Irish Social Protection Minister, who comes from a Presbyterian background in Co Monaghan, said: “The government has not received an invitation but... if we get an invitation we will certainly consider it.

“Can I just say that if the government decided to send a representative and they did ask me to represent them, I would be very proud to represent the government as I have done in the past at many different events.”

Ms Humphreys added: “So, as I said no invitation as yet and if there is one government will decide.

“On every occasion, I have been more than proud to represent the Irish Government at whatever event I was asked to attend.”

Speaking to the Irish Catholic publication earlier this year, Archbishop Martin said: “I would like to see the 2021 centenary as an opportunity for greater mutual understanding, for opportunities to build further reconciliation and peace.

“I am somewhat disappointed that many of our nationalist and republican political leaders have dismissed the centenary of 2021 altogether because for me I think it’s really important to seize it as a moment to reflect on where we’ve come from.”

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