Pro-life protestors and Free Presbyterians plan to protest joint church service to mark centenary of Northern Ireland’s foundation

Pro-life protestors and Free Presbyterians are among those who may protest at the joint church service in Armagh tomorrow to be attended by the Queen.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 4:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 12:42 pm

The service at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh on Thursday is intended to mark the Centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland, or partition. The Queen and representatives of the Irish government are also to attend.

However pro-life protestors have gone on record to say they will protest at the event.

Mark Lambe of Abolish Abortion NI said that more than 2000 children have been “murdered” in NI abortions since it was decriminalised on 21 Octover 2019.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The four largest churches will take part in the service at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh.

“The churches have done little to intervene,” he said. “This Thursday, on the second anniversary of that dreadful day, the main church leaders will have a unique opportunity to address the very people involved in the creation and implementation of these laws.”

“We urge our church leaders to use this opportunity to reach out to our political representatives, to call on them to repent and demand that they deliver equal protection under the law for all human beings by abolishing abortion immediately.” He said up to 60 protestors will attend.

The News Letter contacted pro-choice groups but there is no evidence they are planning any protest.

However, it has emerged that there has been intense debate within the Free Presbyterian Church (FPC) about the event. As one member of the church told the News Letter the event would normally mean “a major protest” by their church, but that there is a significant problem this time - that a Free Presbyterian will be taking a high profile role by attending - First Minister, Paul Givan MLA.

In a video statement, Rev J Armstrong, moderator of the FPC, said they were “grieved” about the planned service. His theological objection is based on the “betrayal” by the participating Protestant church leaders of the various creeds and confessions that they subscribe to by holding a joint service with the Catholic Church.

Luke Barker from Markethill, said he recently resigned his FPC membership. He affirmed the church’s statement about but added that these remarks “will lose all credibility if any of their membership in good standing will be found in attendance at the ecumenical Centenary meeting”. He also criticised his church for not protesting with placards on the day. Mr Barker said he would be encouraging a protest.

The News Letter invited the DUP and First Minister Paul Givan to comment but no response was offered.

The so-called 32 County Sovereignty movement has been erecting posters objecting to the Queen’s visit but it is not known if it or other republicans may protest in person.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “An appropriate and proportionate policing operation will be in place during the service”.

MORE NEWS:

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to newsletter.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.newsletter.co.uk/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe

Editor