Church leaders call on Government to provide 100% redress for mica and pyrite families

Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops, and a leading Presbyterian clergyman, have called on the Irish Government to offer full and immediate redress to the thousands of people whose homes have been affected by the mica/pyrite crisis. Numerous family homes have been seriously damaged because defective building blocks were used in their construction. The church leaders said:

“Housing and homelessness are recognised as key political and social justice issues of our time. In this context, immediate action is needed to alleviate the mica/pyrite crisis which is affecting the health, well-being and safety of homeowners and their families. As church leaders, we are gravely concerned at the families’ plight. While many of our impacted citizens live on the periphery of our island, it is disturbing that their basic need for good housing also seems peripheral to the agenda of our political leaders. A number of us have had the opportunity to visit some of the affected homes and heard from campaigners. Our foremost concern now is getting support for these families.

“There appears to be a disparity in the way people in our region are being treated compared to those elsewhere. Homeowners in Leinster were awarded 100% redress for the pyrite problems there. The citizens of Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick deserve no less. This is a matter of fairness, justice and compassion.

“There may come a time for assigning responsibility for what has happened. One thing is certain, though: the homeowners are not to blame.

“The cost of repairing the damage is beyond the means of most families. The mica/pyrite scandal is now a test of our compassion as a society and of the State’s resolve to help its most vulnerable. We must move quickly to end the anguish and uncertainty for all those affected by mica or pyrite in homes that they have bought or built.

“The affected homeowners need three guarantees of support:

– 100% redress from the government for homeowners;
– a 40-year, state-backed scheme, guaranteeing full redress in the event of future problems; and,
– the remedy of 100% redress made available to all those affected.

“We realise there will be significant costs involved, but the State has found resources in the past to rescue the banking sector and, more recently, to deal with the pandemic. The mica and pyrite families need our sympathy, our prayers and our help. They have our full support, as church leaders, in their pursuit of their three demands.”



Rt Rev Patrick Rooke, Church of Ireland Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry

Rt Rev Dr Ferran Glenfield, Church of Ireland Bishop of Elphin

Rt Rev Andrew Forster, Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe


Bishop John Fleming, Bishop of Killala

Bishop Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry

Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin

Bishop Alan McGuckian SJ, Bishop of Raphoe

Bishop Paul Dempsey, Bishop of Achonry


Rev Keith Hibbert, Moderator of Derry & Donegal Presbytery


Photo 1: Msgr Michael Canny, Bishop Andrew Forster and Bishop Alan McGuckian outside the O’Donnell family home, near Burnfoot, which is being demolished because it was built with defective blocks

Photo 2: Stephen O’Donnell shows the churchmen round the damaged interior of his home

Photo 3: Mica Action Group spokesperson, Michael Doherty, on right, discusses its campaign

Photo 4: Bishop Andrew walks round their home with members of the O’Donnell family

Photo 5: Lynette O’Donnell says she misses the view from their home, which they’ve had to vacate

Photo 6: The Breslin family home, at Ludden, near Burnfoot, has become a building site

Photo 7: The three church leaders surveyed rubble that was removed from the Breslins’ home

Photo 8: Gary Breslin explains why the family home has to be knocked down two months ago because of mica

Photo 9: The Breslin family have moved into a temporary home on the site.

Photo 10: The Breslins’ home has been demolished to its foundations

Photo 11: Mary O’Regan, and her neighbour, Declan Glackin, share their plight with the church leaders at Mary’s home in Manorcunningham

Photo 12: Mary in conversation with the bishops


Archbishop of Armagh finally enthroned

The Most Revd John McDowell has been enthroned as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland at a service this evening  at St Patrick’s Cathedral, on the Hill of Armagh. Archbishop McDowell was elected to the office by the House of Bishops on 11th March 2020, having previously served as Bishop of Clogher since 2011.  He took up his position on 28th April 2020.

The coronavirus pandemic prevented the Service of Enthronement for the new Archbishop from going ahead in 2020 and, with the imposition of restrictions earlier this year, plans for the service were put on hold.

In his sermon, Archbishop McDowell reflected on the Cross of Jesus and the true meaning of sacrifice. He said: “Any human relationship or political or social arrangement which does not allow the sacrifice of reciprocal self-giving room to flourish, will ultimately crumble, because it is founded on falsehood, on a reef of sand, and that is so because sacrifice is at the heart of the nature of God, who made us in his image.”

The Archbishop was welcomed to the Cathedral by the Very Revd Shane Forster, Dean of Armagh. The Bible readings during the service were Numbers 21:4-9 (read by the Ven Elizabeth Cairns, Archdeacon of Ardboe) and John 3:13-17 (read by the Revd Dr Heather Morris, General Secretary of the Methodist Church in Ireland).  Music was provided by the Choir of the Cathedral and the Revd Dr Peter Thompson, Assistant Organist.

The service was livestreamed at and it is hoped that a much larger event, a liturgical welcome, for the Archbishop will be possible at a future date.

The full text of Archbishop McDowell’s sermon from the service is provided below:

May all the words that I say to you be spoken in the name of the Cross of Christ, our shame and our glory. Amen.

A Service of Enthronement usually marks the beginning of a Bishop’s ministry in his new Diocese, and in the case of the diocese of Armagh, as the Primate of All Ireland, in the Anglican obedience. That is manifestly not the case today, as I have been loitering in these precincts, persecuting clergy and parishes in this diocese, and trying my best not to wreck the RCB and the Standing Committee for nearly eighteen months now.

So, instead I thought I would say a word or two about (what is nowadays called) “the day that’s in it”. Holy Cross Day. The Cross. Not only the enduring sign of Christianity, but also its enduring substance. And I do so in the knowledge that the Cross may not be a benign or reassuring symbol to everyone, and also in the presence of an abbot whose house is under the patronage of the Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Day is not a red letter day in the Kalendar of the Church of Ireland. It commemorates the dedication in 335, of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which was built over the supposed site of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but It feels a bit odd to me to commemorate the Cross on its own, out of the context of Holy Week, and that full narrative of salvation history. In Holy Week our focus is on the tragedy of the Cross and the heartrending events of his last hours, when Our Lord was “extra-judicially executed on the majority recommendation of a corrupt committee of very religious people”. The emphasis of Holy Cross Day is a little different.

In early Christian art Jesus reigns from the Cross; only from the medieval period has he been shown suffering on it. And a fixation with that suffering can become morbid, as I think it comes very close to doing in many modern films and treatments of the life and death of Jesus. It cannot be without significance that those who witnessed the Cross of Jesus, and who have left us a witness of it in the New Testament, are very reticent about the gruesome details.

And there is no evidence in the Gospels to support Nietzsche’s notion that Christianity finds value in suffering in itself. As far as I can tell Jesus never once advised the diseased and troubled who flocked round him to reconcile themselves to their suffering. In fact he regards their sufferings as the work of Satan, and he releases them from it and heals them.

So, let us remember that it is the Cross of Jesus that we venerate today, not some generalised symbol. His life is consummated, not contradicted in the nature of his death.

The Cross of Jesus is unique in this sense. It is the only time in history when a sacrifice was also an atonement. When the sacrifice of the life offered was congruent with the reward it received. It is no longer the purity of doves and calves being offered (who are innocent only in the sense that moral concepts have no bearing on them). It is the offering of the blameless just on whose head a poisonous political aggression is now visited.

As for us, we plan our little heroisms and the Father is pleased to see them hung on the Cross of his Son, who he bowed to the ground, and to reward us far beyond the depth of our sacrifices.

So, following the imagery of the reading from Numbers and Jesus’ interpretation of it in the Gospel passage, the Cross of Jesus is something we turn to for life. Sacrifice in the Christian sense of mutual self-giving, concerns the flourishing of the self not its extinction. It involves a formidable release of energy and a turbulent journey from death to life.

In the foundational and continuing sacrament of baptism we are signed with the sign of the Cross; the sign of sacrifice. It is the sign with which we go out headfirst into the world. And we do so because the inner structure of love and of all fruitful relationships is sacrificial. We give ourselves to the beloved (whoever that may be) in order to possess ourselves more deeply.

Like baptism, sacrifice as mutual self-giving is not a single event; it is a passage that is never completed, that must always be resumed and prolonged. For once the word liminal is the correct one here. Sacrifice is the threshold situation that pervades all of life, that becomes the experience of our entire existence. No doubt that is what St Paul means when he talks about us dying every minute and what Jesus means when he refers to his death as his baptism.

All that we do, all of our human acts, have the quality of deathliness about them, as for good or ill they cannot be undone. And when I say “all our acts” I mean not only our religious or personal acts, but also our social, economic and political acts. Christ rules over the whole of life from the Cross. So, are our acts, acts of deathliness leading to life or are they more like the acts of the unequalled ego, deepening into the gloom of annihilation?

Sacrifice is not as it has been so often caricatured – some form of self-mutilation. In a relationship it is not the submission of a woman to a capricious tyrant of a husband or of a poor person to an unjust social system. Any human relationship or political or social arrangement which does not allow the sacrifice of reciprocal self-giving room to flourish will ultimately crumble, because it is founded on falsehood. On a reef of sand.

And that is so because sacrifice is at the heart of the nature of God, who made us in his image. Sometimes we express this politely (even decorously) such as in the Athanasian Creed, when we say of the Persons of the Trinity, that “none is afore or after other”. Sometimes with St Paul much, much more radically, as in Philippians when he points to a sacrifice at the heart of God, (taken before the worlds were made,) not to consider equality with God as something to be taken advantage of, but taking the form of a servant…”

And as St John points out in the Gospel reading, the servant not only came, but “…must be lifted up”. Must. Because God is what he is, the lifting up of His Son is inevitable, and glorious. The source of life.

The Cross interprets ourselves and the world to us. In a personal sense Jesus calls us to bear it with him, but to bear it as sons and daughters of the resurrection; in the mutuality of sacrifice. In the Church it is always present in the continuing sacrament of our initiation and is a standing rebuke throughout our lives to what are often the egotisms of our discipleship. In the political and social senses the faith of the Cross brings a disruptive energy to the spurious stability of any civilisation which claims to be just, but is merely complacent, yet also recognises the signs of the life of the Spirit and the Cross of Jesus wherever they are encountered.

Clung to by millions of dying men and women; the hope of millions more who live in violence and oppression; the Cross is the sign and agent of all human emancipation.

So, in finishing, if I could add a word or two to the Collect of the Day:

Almighty God, who in the passion of your Son made an instrument of death to be for us the means of life and peace: grant us so to glory in the Cross of Christ that we may gladly suffer for his sake; yet seek never to be a cause of suffering in others, also for his sake, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen



Archbishop John McDowell knocks on the door of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, with his crozier before the Service of Enthronement.

Dean Shane Forster installs Archbishop John McDowell at his throne in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh.

Raphoe parishes make up for lost time with rush of Confirmations

The Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster, was in south Donegal, on Sunday afternoon, for a Service of Confirmation for young people from the Donegal, Killymard, Lough Eske and Laghey Group of Parishes.

For many months, churches in the Diocese of Raphoe had been prevented from proceeding with Confirmation Services because of Covid restrictions imposed by the Irish government. These were relaxed a week ago, precipitating a surge in services. The service, in Christ Church, Lough Eske, was the seventh of eight confirmations the Bishop has officiated at this week – all but one of them in County Donegal. He confirmed young people at three different services on Sunday alone, and was assisted at two of them by the Rector of the Donegal Group, Archdeacon David Huss.

The Bishop told the five confirmands at Sunday afternoon’s service that the bible reading included the most important question that anyone would ever be asked. “It’s a question for each one of us, and it’s a question that Jesus posed to the disciples as follows, and he simply said this: ‘Who do you say I am?’ [Mark 8 v 29]

“Did they think he was just a wise teacher, or a miracle worker, or a really nice man or whatever? ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And Peter – one of the followers – gives the answer. In Matthew’s version of the story he says, ‘You are Christ, the son of the living God.’ And that answer for us is actually the answer that our hearts and our lips need to give to Jesus: that he’s the son of God; that he loves us; that he came into the world for us; that he forgives us our sins. There’s no answer more important than him in our lives.”

In his sermon, Bishop Andrew explained to the young people what the rite of confirmation would require of them. “This afternoon, for our candidates, I have questions for you that I’ll ask of you, and those questions – whenever we distil them down – are not that far from the question that Jesus asked Peter: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ It’s the most important question in the world, and the answer is the most important answer in the world.”

Bishop Andrew told the confirmands and their families that the things that mattered in life, and the things that made a difference, were faith, love and hope. “It’s about faith in God, it’s about having the love of God in our hearts and it’s about knowing his hope in our lives in the world. Faith, hope and love. What changes us? It’s faith. What makes a difference in our lives? It’s love. And what will help us live in the future? It’s hope.”

This week’s Confirmation Services – in both jurisdictions – complied with local Covid regulations, and Church of Ireland guidance, requiring family groups to sit in ‘bubbles’, alternate pews to be cordoned off, and face coverings to be worn in church.

New Moville curate moves ‘closer to God’

The Rev Alan McCracken came face to face with his new parishioners for the first time as Bishop’s Curate of the Parishes of Moville Upper and Lower, Donagh, Cloncha and Culdaff, at a Service of Welcome and Introduction led by the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Andrew Forster.

The Rural Dean for Inishowen and Diocesan Registrar, Rev Canon David Crooks, provoked laughter from the congregation in St Columb’s Church in Moville when he described the Rathcoole man as the most northerly priest in the diocese, “so probably the closest to God”.

Rev McCracken was joined in church on Saturday afternoon by his wife, Karen, his mother Rita, and members of the wider family for a Service attended by clergy from the local Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and Methodist Churches.

In his sermon, Bishop Andrew reminded the new curate, that he had asked him – at his ordination, on Wednesday evening last – a series of questions. “I said, ‘Will you…Will you…Will you?’ And some of the questions were ‘Will you expound the scriptures? Will you be diligent in prayer? Will you fashion your life upholding the way of Christ? Will you be faithful in visiting the sick and caring for the flock? Will you promote unity, peace and love?

“Now, whenever we read those questions,” Bishop Andrew said, “and whenever clergy see those questions, year in, year out as we attend ordinations, for me they lay an onerous burden upon us, because one day we all realise that it’s not, ‘Will you? Will you? Will you?’ that will be asked us, but one day God will ask, ‘Did you? Did you? Did you? The onerous task of ministry is placed upon you as a priest in the Church of God and now as Bishop’s Curate of this Group of Parishes.

“Sometimes I ask myself what is it, ultimately, that our parishioners want from us? And there could be lots of answers to that, actually. But, ultimately I think we can distil that down to three things. I think there are three things that ultimately the people of God want to see in the life of the shepherds of God, and it’s these three things – it’s very simple: number one, that you love the Lord; number two, that you love the people; and number three, that you love the place. Yes, there’ll be lots of different things that will be asked of you; yes, there’ll be lots of different opinions on what the Bishop’s Curate should be like, but ultimately, I think. it comes down to those three things: that we love the Lord, love the people, love the place.”

Addressing his congregation for the first time as their Bishop’s Curate, Rev McCracken said he was there in Moville, Greencastle, Carndonagh, Culdaff and Malin to build and to grow the Church.

“Whenever the opportunity came for myself and Karen to come and visit the lovely people in the Inishowen peninsula,” Rev McCracken said, “we came up with an open mind – coming from north Belfast – but we came up with God in our hearts, and we came to see the people, and we came for the people.”

The new minister thanked the local community for getting the rectory ready for him and his wife, and for making them feel so welcome. He said he looked forward to getting to know them all individually, and looked forward to preaching to them. “That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to build. I’m here to grow. I’m here to build God’s kingdom in this place and in these parishes and – with the help of all you people – I will succeed.”

There were speeches of welcome, from the Archdeacon of Raphoe, Ven. David Huss; the Parish Priest of Moville, Fr Patrick O’Hagan; the Rector of Ballynure and Ballyeaston (Ballyclare), Rev Johnny Campbell-Smyth (who was Alan’s training rector); Rev Philip Poots of Moville Presbyterian Church; and Rev John Montgomery of the Methodist Church in Moville. There was an apology from the Archdeacon of Derry, Ven. Robert Miller Miller, who was unable to be at Saturday’s Service, but who will supervise Rev McCracken as part of the latter’s training.

Bishop Andrew and Canon Crooks thanked the Rev Mervyn Peoples and the four parish readers for sustaining worship in the various churches during the two-year vacancy which followed the departure of Rev Suzanne Cousins to the Diocese of Armagh. Both men expressed regret that Church Warden David McKinlay – a stalwart of Moville Parish – was unable to be there because of ill health. George Mills, from St Buadan’s Church in Culdaff, welcomed her successor, assuring Rev McCracken that the hard work of parishioners had meant he now had five churches that were economically sound. “During the vacancy,” Mr Mills said, “we were incredibly well looked after. We had a vacancy and Covid, and we still never missed one scheduled service.”




Two new priests ordained for Diocese of Derry and Raphoe at All Saints Clooney

The onerousness of their new ministry was brought home to the Rev Andrea Cotter and Rev Alan McCracken during their Service of Ordination as priests in All Saints, Clooney on Wednesday evening. “Your ministry will be one of joy as well as of responsibility,” Bishop Andrew Forster told them, “of happiness as well as of diligence. Yet remember in your heart that if it should come about that the Church, or any of its members, is hurt or hindered by reason of your neglect, your fault will be great and God’s judgement will follow.”

The new curates came to the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe by way of the Diocese of Connor, where they completed training as intern deacons. Rev Cotter, who completed her internship in the Parish of Skerry, Rathcavan and Newtowncrommelin, has been appointed Curate Assistant of All Saints Parish, Clooney, where she will serve with Rev David McBeth.

Rev McCracken undertook his training in the United Parish of Ballynure and Ballyeaston, and he will be to the Moville Group of Parishes, at a service on Saturday afternoon.

Bishop Andrew extended “the warmest of welcomes” to Andrea and her husband Richard, and Alan and his wife Karen. He said all in the diocese looked forward to seeing what plans God had for the new priests’ lives and ministries. The Bishop said he was sure that both couples would enjoy the support and prayers of their new congregations.

If the seriousness of priesthood sounded daunting, Rev Cotter and Rev McCracken were assured by Ven. Robert Miller, in his sermon, that God wasn’t sending them out without equipping them for the task. “In John’s Gospel, which we heard read this evening, we read the words, ‘God is sending you’. And I wonder as a child were you ever sent to run a message for your parents, or were you ever sent to the school office by the teacher to collect something? I’m sure you were, unless you had a very privileged existence. And if so, you probably were greeted with the words: ‘Who sent you?’ Or you may have announced yourself with the words, ‘My mum has sent me to collect.’ But ‘Who sent you?’ is often what people want to know.

“And these important words of sending in our Gospel reading this evening remind us that we all – as God’s people – are sent. The passage allows us to hear Jesus’ words of sending to His apostles after the resurrection, and He speaks to them: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’”

Archdeacon Miller told both new priests that they were to be messengers, watchers, stewards of the Lord; they were to teach and admonish, to feed and to provide for the Lord’s family; to search for God’s children in the wilderness of the world’s temptations and to guide them through its confusions, so that they may be saved through Christ forever. “As the disciples were sent by Jesus, and empowered by the gift of His holy spirit, so you too are to be ordained this evening and God is asked to pour out His holy spirit upon His servants for the office and work of a priest in His church.

“God is sending you, but He doesn’t send without equipping, for God also – as we were reminded by our reading from Isaiah – God is anointing you. The invocation of the Bishop, with the laying on of hands by your fellow priests, is an intercession for God’s anointing: ‘Pour out Your holy spirit upon Your servant for the office and work of a priest in Your church. As God’s people we are all given the anointing of the holy spirit, and when I reflect on His role in my discipleship and ministry, or – if you prefer – in my following and my leading, I’m reminded of what the Rev Canon David Watson taught: if you think of the Holy Spirit as an ‘it’, you’ll want more of it; but if you remember He is a person, then you will want Him to have more of you.”

Archdeacon Miller reminded the two new curates, and the other clergy present, that they were “co-workers with Christ”. He said God was making His appeal through them. “This ministry of joy and responsibility needs God’s anointing, as indeed the calling of each of us as believers needs to be done so in God’s strength. Each day, each moment of each day, we are called to turn to Him. And St John reminds us that the role of His holy spirit is to lead us into all truth – truth about God, truth about the world we are called to minister in, and truth about ourselves.

“Our ministry is not as a professional Christian, but as a follower. And so, His sending and anointing is for a purpose. And His purpose, as St Paul reminds us from our reading in Corinthians, is that we are ambassadors for Christ – God making His appeal through us. Now, if that doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable, then I don’t think anything will.

“In our epistle, it reminds us why we have been given the Lord’s anointing. We need it. Ministry is impossible without it. God is making His appeal through us – really. He is engaging with the needs of the world through me. It is a truth that should drive us to our knees.”

Wednesday evening’s service was arranged by the Rector of All Saints Clooney, Rev David McBeth and was carried out in accordance with the Northern Ireland Executive’s guidelines and Church of Ireland guidance. Bishop Andrew thanked the Rector, his team, the choir and musicians. He also thanked the two archdeacons who assisted in the service, Ven. David Huss and Archdeacon Miller.

Mrs Pat Hume’s funeral: “If John brought the brilliant mind to the peacemaking, then Pat brought the pure heart”

Bishop Andrew Forster joined the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, and other clergy at the funeral of Mrs Pat Hume in St Eugene’s Cathedral in Londonderry this morning. The Requiem Mass, which was attended by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, was private, at the family’s request, owing to Covid restrictions.
Mrs Hume, who was the widow of the Nobel peace laureate, John Hume, died on Thursday after a short illness. Her husband had predeceased her just over a year earlier.
In his funeral address, the main celebrant of the Requiem Mass, Father Paul Farren, described Mrs Hume as a most humble and beautiful person. “Much has been said about John and Pat and their unity in peacemaking,” Fr Farren said, “and it’s all true. And if John brought the brilliant mind to the peacemaking, then Pat brought the pure heart.”
The priest told mourners, who included Mrs Hume’s five children and many of her grandchildren, that the empathy she had was unique and incredible. “That is why her work with Daphne Trimble after the Good Friday Agreement with those who are victims was so important to her, and that is why she found it abhorrent that anybody or any government would believe that a line could be drawn under the pain and the suffering of people. Her commitment to truth and to justice was consistent and unquestionable. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.”
In his homily, Fr Farren suggested that rather than just remembering Mrs Hume, those present in the church or watching her funeral online would be inspired to do as she did, and to see God in the other and so be true peacemakers themselves.
Before the Mass began, Mrs Hume’s eldest son, Aidan, gave a eulogy in which he said that for him and his siblings, their mother was “the calm at the centre of chaotic times,” able to impart a sense of safety and love which sustained them when the world around them was full of uncertainties. No matter how crazy or how difficult the situation, he said, his mother was simply unflappable.
“Dad would often say that he was a parcel and mum delivered him, but that only tells a very small part of the story. Mum was at his right hand throughout his entire life: his best friend, his closest confidante, his loving wife, his trusted advisor, his political antennae and – and I don’t think dad would mind me saying this – she was definitely the more glamorous side of the partnership.”
Mr Hume told the congregation that his mother always focused on the positive things in life – always smiling, always happy. “She was deeply spiritual and had an incredible faith, but it was a private faith; for all of us it was something she sought to guide us [with] rather than to impose upon us.”
Mrs Hume was laid to rest with her husband in the City Cemetery.

Spitfire tribute as fallen WW2 airmen are remembered at service in Ballykelly

Relatives of three RAF crewmen, who died when their plane crashed in a field in Ballykelly during the Second World War, attended a commemoration event on Sunday afternoon during which a memorial stone was unveiled by members of the men’s families and dedicated by the local Rector, Rev Canon Harold Given.

The event took place in the Rectory Field, near Tamlaghtfinlagan Church of Ireland, where parts of the wreckage of the crewmen’s Bristol Beaufort AW271 were found. The discovery followed an excavation by members of The Foyle College Aviation Team – nicknamed the ‘F-Cats’ – and a team from Queen’s University Belfast. The project was led by Jonny McNee, whose father, Rev Canon Bill McNee – a former Rector of Tamlaghtfinlagan – took part in today’s short Service.

Canon Given told those gathered for the Memorial Service that the Parish of Tamlaghtfinlagan had a long association with the RAF. “On this Sunday,” he said, “in years gone by, we would have had about 30 members of the RAF who would come back to Ballykelly and join with us, in the parish church, on this, the first Sunday of September – Battle of Britain Day – and we would have our Service and our remembrance there. So, it’s very fitting that we meet here this afternoon for an RAF Service, as it were, to remember not only these three men but all those who have given their lives in the service of their country and in the cause of freedom.”

The crewmen who died were Flight Lieutenant Archibald Livingstone, Flight Lieutenant Richard Holdsworth and Flight Sergeant Stanley Chadwick. A copper beech now marks the spot where their plane came down in April 1942.

During the Memorial Service, a period of silence was observed, and there was a flypast by a World War Two Spitfire.  Flight Lieutenant Livingstone’s nephew, David Livingstone; Flight Sergeant Chadwick’s son, Ron; and Flight Lieutenant Holdsworth’s daughter, Rev Di Hervey, performed readings at Sunday’s Service.

Wreaths were laid by the Roe Valley Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association, and by Wing Commander Steve McCleery, Officer Commanding 502 (Ulster) Squadron, RAF.

New Diocesan Youth Officer appointed

The Diocese of Derry and Raphoe has appointed a new Diocesan Youth Officer. Claire Hinchliff is expected to take up her new duties at the end of this month. The position had been vacant for a number of years following the departure of Claire’s predecessor, Martin Montgomery.

The new ‘incumbent’ says she is looking forward to the job immensely. “I have grown up in the Diocese and have benefitted from youth work since I was a teenager,” Claire says, “and now I get to help with some of the youth work that helped me when I was younger. It’s very exciting. Teenagers are what I have always mainly worked with. That’s where my passion lies.”

Claire comes to the role after five years as a youth and family worker for St Canice’s Church of Ireland and Faughanvale Presbyterian Church. Prior to that she had been a youth worker with All Saints Clooney. Her new duties require her to “further the Church’s ministry with young people of secondary school age”. She will be expected to equip parishes for youth ministry through training, networking, providing strategic direction and encouraging good practice.

The young mother of two is well aware of the challenge she faces. “We are gradually coming out of a pandemic,” Claire says. “Young people are more disconnected from Church than they have ever been. That will be challenging for youth leaders and clergy – and for young people themselves. In a sense, it feels like we’re all starting from the beginning again, from our different positions. I’m looking forward to that. And obviously, I’ll be supporting churches in any way I can.”

Bishop Andrew Forster has congratulated Claire on her appointment. “This is a significant appointment for our Diocese. Youth ministry is a critically important area for our Church.

“Life is very difficult for young people nowadays,” Bishop Andrew says. “Teenagers face all sorts of challenges, even in normal times, and the pandemic has brought additional problems for many of them.

“Claire is right to recognise the scale of the challenge that lies ahead but – like us – she sees the opportunity, too, that youth ministry presents. This is an exciting move for her and an exciting time for the Diocese. I pray God guides Claire in her valuable ministry; I look forward to having her on our team, and to seeing her sharing her gifts and talents with our parishes and our young people.”


Archbishop of Armagh joins tributes to the late Mrs Pat Hume

The Most Revd John McDowell, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has issued the following statement on the death of Mrs Pat Hume:
“Anyone who has been involved in public life in Ireland over the past 50 years will be saddened by the news of the death of Mrs Pat Hume who not only cared for her husband in his long and distressing final illness but was a source of inspiration and stability to him and to all who work for peace in these islands.
“Our thoughts and prayers are especially with John and Pat’s children and with all of those who are grieving most deeply for her today.”

Bishop Andrew “deeply saddened” by death of Mrs Pat Hume

Bishop Andrew Forster has paid tribute to the late Mrs Pat Hume – wife of the Nobel Peace laureate John Hume – following the announcement of her death earlier today. Mrs Hume died at home surrounded by members of her family. Bishop Andrew said Pat Hume was an indispensable part of her husband’s legacy and he offered condolences to the Hume family.


I am deeply saddened by the news of Pat Hume’s death. Mrs Hume was ever present at her husband, John’s side through his long and distinguished career, and subsequently through his many years of ill health.

John has left an immense political and historical legacy, and Pat is an intrinsic and indispensable part of that. The affection and esteem in which she was held right across the community is an eloquent tribute to the impact she made on people’s lives.

My thoughts and prayers are with Pat’s daughters and sons, and with the wider family circle.