Moderator attends first state event

9.7.2023 | Moderator, Church in Society, Commemorations

On 11 July 1921, the signing of a truce ended the Irish War of Independence. Since 1986 on the closest Sunday to that date, the National Day of Commemoration takes place when the Republic of Ireland remembers Irishmen and Irishwomen who lost their lives in past wars, or on peacekeeping deployments with the United Nations. The annual event took place in Collins Barracks in Cork City today.

Representing the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, its new Moderator, Right Reverend Dr Sam Mawhinney attended, participating in his first state event.

While all Moderators from the all-Ireland denomination take part in a Christian act of worship during the national act of remembrance each year, as the minister of Adelaide Road Presbyterian Church in Dublin, he is the first Moderator from a congregation in the Republic of Ireland to take part since the year 2000.

This afternoon the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, led the Commemoration and laid a wreath, which was followed by a minute’s silence. Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, also took part in the event.

The annual event was watched by other senior political and civic representatives, including members of the Government, members of the Oireachtas, the Council of State, the Diplomatic Corps, the Judiciary and relatives of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. The next-of-kin of those who died while peacekeeping with the United Nations were to be also present, along with a wide cross-section of the community from both sides of the border.

Speaking after the event, Dr Mawhinney said, “The National Day of Commemoration gives us an opportunity to come together and remember those who have given their lives in the defence of our nation, in the cause and pursuit of peace. It has been a great privilege to be able to take part in this national act of remembrance today and an honour to represent my Church and its people across Ireland.

“Sixty-five years on from Ireland’s first UN deployment, which was to Lebanon, we remember the sacrifice of Irishmen and Irishwomen who lost their lives in past wars, and on United Nations peacekeeping service with the Irish Defence Forces. Peacekeeping has not been without cost, and we honour the memory of all Irish personnel who have paid the highest price, either in both world wars, or on active UN service. This includes, of course, Private Se├ín Rooney, who lost his life in Lebanon only last December,” he said.

Dr Mawhinney concluded by saying, “For just over 10 years, when I was minister of Fermoy and Cahir Presbyterian Churches, Karen and I, along with our three boys, lived in County Cork, so it was good to be back. On poignant days such as these, however, we remember that Jesus is our hope in life and death. He is our hope as we face these serious times of challenge and our comfort in times of sadness.”

Photos: (1) Guests at the National Day of Commemoration, which was held in Collins Barracks, in Cork city (2) Presbyterian Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, praying the concluding prayer as (3) church representatives give the benediction at the close of the Christian act of worship. (All images from RTE 1.)

The 2018 General Assembly clarified the denomination’s position with regards to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's participation in multi-faith civic events. You can read the position of the Church here.

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