In 2016, Ireland took back the Somme “into our self–understanding and identity”, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson has said.
Honouring loss during the year exposed “the bankruptcy of a memory that seeks to exclude. And such a version of memory has had a long, tenacious history in Ireland,” he said.
“The freedom to remember and the grace to grieve have touched households and townlands, streets and suburbs, the length and breadth of Ireland,” he said.
Complimenting 1916 commemorative ceremonies across the island, he said “the history of the State has been told, most pertinently and most poignantly, around the founding events and their complexity. It is acknowledged widely that it has been done with objectivity and with respect. Children and women have not been forgotten in this account of happenings.”
In a homily at Christ Church Cathedral he noted “genuine attempts have been made to point us to a fresh expression of ourselves into the future that will open as a new century for Irish self–understanding, as well as a new year, in 2017.”
He felt all of this “speaks hopefully for continuing cordial relations between the two parts of Ireland whose separateness cannot but be accentuated structurally once the United Kingdom invokes Article 50 and leaves the European Union.
“It is good to have bonds of affection in place within Ireland ahead of this event, whatever form it takes, because it means that post-2016 we have a shared memory of publicly documented expressions of respect and friendship already in place. And memory in Ireland is a key component in our identity.”
The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has spoken of his shock at seeing so many people queuing for food in the city before Christmas.
“We have to ask why it is that progress for good is not shared and that today inequalities flourish. All of us were stunned even here in our own city to find thousands of people queuing for basic food at the Capuchin and other food centres, while within a few kilometres others were queuing for luxury goods,” he said.
Speaking in the Pro Cathedral he described as “sick” and “evil” those individuals “who murder openly on our streets” and those “who instruct and pay them.”
Dublin “is marked by homelessness but also indeed for many by hopelessness,” he said. As believers “we cannot be satisfied simply to celebrate Christmas like an anaesthetic which hides pain for a moment or like an eruption of spending which ends up leaving us only with a hangover of emptiness,” he said.
The Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin noted how “the people of Ireland continue to be extremely generous to charitable agencies.”
Speaking at St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh, he said he was “heartened by the courageous work of Trócaire as it engages with its partners in Syria and Iraq to help traumatised victims and survivors of conflict”.
He sent “good wishes this Christmas to the brave Irish UN peacekeepers in Lebanon and other troubled places, and I salute the tremendous humanitarian work of our navy which has helped to rescue thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean.
“I thank God for the outreach of members of the St Vincent de Paul Society, the Fr Peter McVerry Trust, the Simon Community and many others who go out of their way to raise awareness and directly support people who have nowhere to call home.”
Where 2017 was concerned he encouraged people “to consider offering some of your time and gifts to help a charitable outreach or voluntary organisation”.