Simon Coveney set to be sent to Northern Ireland centenary church service in Armagh

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney is due to attend a religious ceremony marking the centenary of the founding of Northern Ireland in Armagh next month.

he Cabinet of the Republic is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to send a senior minister to the October 21 service at St Patrick’s Church in Ireland.

Sunday Times sources have reported that either Mr Coveney or Social Care Minister Heather Humphreys will be the first choice to travel to the event.

It comes as it has been confirmed that the Irish President will hold a seminar on the partition of Ireland a few weeks after the Armagh service to mark the partition.

The academic discussion will include “a reflection on the path to [Anglo-Irish] Treaty and its long-term implications”.

Mr Coveney recently confirmed that the Irish government had been consulted over the president’s invitation to the church service, but said no ‘clear advice’ had been given on whether or not he should attend. to assist.

He added that President Higgins had made his own decision, which had to be respected.

President Higgins’ seminar is part of his “Machnamh 100” series, which he started in November 2020.

“Machnamh” translates into English as “Reflection” and the series “seeks to recall, critique and reflect on the context and events of the War of Independence, Civil War and Partition,” a door-to-door said. President’s word.

Yesterday Charlie Flanagan, Ireland’s former foreign secretary, said his government’s handling of President Higgins’ invitation had been botched.

The Fine Gael TD said the cross-border row over Mr Higgins’ refusal to join the Queen in ecumenical service was a setback for reconciliation.

However, Sinn Fein opposes the presence of the Irish government, as well as a small number of backbenchers from Fianna Fail and the Social Democrats, including co-leader Roisin Shortall said: “I think that it is not appropriate for us to be officially represented at an event marking the partition and establishment of Northern Ireland.

“Separately, it would be helpful if the president’s earlier communication of views could be clarified. However, overall I think it’s time to move on.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the president’s decision to reject the invitation to the Armagh event “sets back north-south relations”. He said it was a bad reflection on the sensitization of trade unionists.

Meanwhile, SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon confirmed on BBC NI’s Sunday Politics program that her party would be holding its own centenary events. She had told the same program earlier this year that the party would hold events.

“We actually engage in a lot of conversations around the centenary as part of our ‘New Ireland’ commission,” she said.

She also noted that party members such as MP Claire Hanna had previously attended a centenary event organized by the Presbyterian Church and that the SDLP had not received an invitation to the Armagh event of the month. next, but Chief Colm Eastwood would consider attending if the invitation came.