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'We have to hear different perspectives'- Minister defends attending event to mark Irish partition

Ministers Jack Chambers and Simon Coveney will attend the church service in Co Armagh
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.32 21 Oct 2021


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'We have to hear different per...

'We have to hear different perspectives'- Minister defends attending event to mark Irish partition

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.32 21 Oct 2021


Share this article


The Government Chief Whip says attending a controversial ceremony to mark the partition of Ireland is to 'build trust and hear different perspectives'.

Minister of State Jack Chambers is insisting the event is not a celebration or commemoration.

He is attending the church service in Co Armagh, along with Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney, after President Michael D Higgins declined an invitation.

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Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was due to attend the event, but has been advised not to travel on health grounds.

Minister Chambers told Newstalk Breakfast if the Government is serious about promoting peace, it has to listen to different perspectives.

"I absolutely respect the decision of President Higgins, he obviously holds a separate constitutional office under the framework within Ireland - and his decision is absolutely respected.

"The Government is separate and distinct from the President, and there's absolute acceptance and respect for his decision."

Minister Chambers says he views partition as 'a mistake'.

"I think it's important we set out what the event is and what it isn't, a lot has been said about it.

"It's not a celebration or commemoration; it's about peace, about healing, about reconciliation and I think creating a space to hear different perspectives from those who hold a different view from us.

"From my perspective, partition was a mistake - I think it had a devastating impact on our island, it cost so many lives, held back our economy, hardened people's views and divided neighbourhoods and communities".

But he says the Government needs to listen to other perspectives and traditions.

"I believe in uniting our people and our country, but I do in the spirit of constitutional republicanism that I think was underpinned in the Good Friday Agreement.

"I think if we're serious about building trust, building reconciliation and promoting peace we have to hear different perspectives from people who have a different tradition than we have".

He adds that the event will be "balanced, inclusive and non-political" with "no flags, no anthems, no uniforms".

'We have to hear different perspectives'- Minister defends attending event to mark Irish partition

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Main image: Minister of State for the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Jack Chambers at the Government Press Centre in October 2020. Picture by: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

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Co Armagh Government Chief Whip Irish Partition Jack Chambers Northern Ireland Northern Ireland Centenary Partition Of Ireland Simon Coveney

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