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Irish church leaders to release NI centenary podcast series during week of commemoration


St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Armagh

Northern Ireland’s four main church groups are to release a special podcast series focusing on the 1921 centenary.

The church leaders said the podcast, which is presented by the UTV journalist Judith Hill, will explore how the events of the past have “shaped our present” and how society here can address challenges “to present a better future”.

Each of the five episodes of the series will feature a figure from the churches, with the Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson from the Irish Council of Churches also featuring.

The series will also feature conversations with a number of special guests as part of an attempt to “deepen the work of reconciliation”.

The release of the podcast comes ahead of a church service in Armagh next week organised by the Irish church leaders and being attended by The Queen.

The event, which coincides with the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland in 1921, is billed as a “a service of reflection and hope” and will be held at St Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral on Thursday.

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The service has been dogged by controversy following the decision of Irish President Michael D Higgins not to attend the service after he said it had become politicised.

The decision by President Higgins led to criticism from Northern Ireland’s unionist parties.

The SDLP has said it will be attending, while Sinn Fein confirmed it would not.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and government chief whip Jack Chambers will also be present at the event.

Describing the podcast, a statement from churches said: “The Church Leaders’ New Year’s statement, the broadcast worship service, and their statement on St Patrick’s Day, along with the forthcoming service of Reflection and Hope this coming Thursday, form part of a series of engagements which aims to build on reflection on the significance of the 1921 centenaries, from different perspectives, to deepen the work of reconciliation.

“This podcast series is part of that ongoing engagement.

“Each episode begins with a personal reflection from one of the church leaders on the work the group has done together on centenaries.

“Each will then be joined by a guest, or guests, bringing a different perspective to discuss a specific aspect of the identity-based challenges facing our society today.”

It added: “The Church Leaders hope that the series will offer a resource for the work of peace and reconciliation. The series has been developed with the support of the Community Relations Council NI.”

One episode of the podcast will be released each day from Monday 18 to Friday 22 October.

The podcasts can be accessed on www.irishchurches.org/podcast or by searching for 'Church Leaders Group Ireland' on your favourite podcast provider.

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