Towards a tolerant, plural society…

As St Patrick’s Day approaches, there is a flurry of debate on the subject of Irishness. As Chris has noted, the commemoration of 1916 has been the subject of some vigourous and largely divisive debate. Ruth Dudley Edwards attempts to pour some oil on troubled waters. Whilst noting the importance of the past, she notes the necessity of preparing for a fast arriving future.

So as we commemorate the 1916 Rising and all who died in it – combatants and civilians – let us make it also a commemoration of all that is good in the varied traditions on this island: Celtic, Viking, Norman, Anglo-Irish, Ulster-Scots, British, Irish, nationalist, unionist, green, orange, Catholic, Protestant, Dissenter and unbeliever – now being enhanced by our immigrants from Europe and far beyond. Pluralism began with the acceptance of civil and religious liberty for everyone and we are still working at that. The Orange Order has been an example to us all in its racial inclusiveness. This is a journey on which all of us on this island are embarked. I hope we can quicken our pace.