An Orangeman was presented with a new peace and reconciliation award by a Catholic school in north Belfast yesterday.
Orange Order education officer David Scott was the first person to be presented with the Terry Donaghy/ Bearnageeha Reconciliation Award in recognition of his service to society at an annual cross-community breakfast in St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha.
After receiving the award, which was presented to him by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mr Scott said: “It is a great honour for the Orange institution to receive this award and I thank the school and the Donaghy family for their support.
“To be the first recipient of this award is an indication of the efforts the education programme is making in society. This acknowledgement by St Patrick’s should be a positive message to other schools and hopefully will encourage them to engage with us in promoting greater understanding.”
Mr Scott has been visiting St Patrick’s College for the past seven years, speaking to sixth formers about the Orange Order.
He added: “If we are to have a shared future then we need to understand each other’s history, culture and traditions. We need to have an appreciation that cultural difference is a good thing and should be seen as providing richness in society.”
The award is named after former teacher, successful Belfast solicitor and peace campaigner, Terry Donaghy, who died two years ago.
St Patrick’s College headmaster PJ O’Grady said: “Following his death the college and the Donaghy family joined forces to set up the Terry Donaghy/Bearnageeha Reconciliation Award.
“Terry greatly influenced the ethos of Bearnageeha when he taught here — and that influence prevails until the present day.
“There may be some raised eyebrows that David Scott is the recipient of this award. However, in the spirit of what Terry Donaghy was about, there should be no surprises.”
This is the first time the Terry Donaghy award, set up in honour of the former teacher, has been presented. Mr Donaghy was described as a man who sought to build bridges between communities during the difficult times in the Troubles and co-founded a lobby group known as the Northern Consensus Group, which campaigned for peace and cross-community government here. The award was announced last year at a cross-community breakfast by the then Lord Mayor Naomi Long and is awarded to an individual who promotes peace and reconciliation.