Irish Association

President Rev Brian Kennaway

Brian was brought up in North Belfast. After a time in industry he attended Magee University College Londonderry, where he was President of the Students' Representative Council (1969-1970), and Trinity College Dublin where he graduated in 1972. He attended Union Theological College Belfast and was ordained into the Ministry of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, in 1976.

He served as Assistant Minister in Glengormley Presbyterian Church in North Belfast before becoming Minister of Crumlin Presbyterian Church, County Antrim, in 1977.

He is active in the wider Church serving on a number of Boards and Committees of the General Assembly. He is presently serving a second term on the General Board, as well as the Church and Society Committee. He has also been appointed to the Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church.

During his ministry in Crumlin he witnessed the transformation of the religious and political make-up of the community, by way of an influx of population from West Belfast. This has dramatically changed the make-up of the population from being 70% Protestant in 1977 to 80% Catholic in 2007. In spite of this unsettling change, a harmonious relationship has been largely maintained through his work with others in the community. He retired from Crumlin Presbyterian Church in January 2009.

Community relations played a large part in Brian's ministry in Crumlin. From 1990 to 2008 he served on the Crumlin Community Police Liaison Committee (CPLC). He served as Chairman from 2001 to 2008. He also formed and served on Crumlin Community Forum from 1996 to 2006. As part of his wider ministry he acted as a Chaplain in the Maze Prison.

Brian has served the work of education in the local community. He was a member of the Board of Governors of Crumlin Primary School for 28 years - 25 years as Chairman. He also served on the Board of Governors of Crumlin High School for 28 years.

Brian is a life-long member of the Orange Order which he joined 1964. He is a member of Dublin & Wicklow District, King William III L.O.L. 1313 in Dublin. He was Convenor of the Education Committee of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland from 1992 to 2000. In the last decade of its existence the Committee had been pro-active in explaining the core values of Orangeism to interested audiences throughout Ireland. It was in this capacity that he became the first Orangeman to officially visit Leinster House. On Wednesday 5th March 1997 he held discussions with the Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Avril Doyle T.D., and Professor Tom Bartlett, the Irish Government's Advisor on '98, on what both were doing to commemorate the two-hundredth anniversary of the 1798 Rebellion. He created history by being the first Orangeman to address the Triennial Convention of the Ancient Order of Hibernians on 28th September 2002.

In September 1998, he visited the United States under the International Visitors Programme (IVP) sponsored by the United States Information Agency (USIA). During this visit he examined the diverse nature of Education and Church Life, as well as examining various Conflict Resolution programmes. These Conflict resolution programmes included "The Institute for Multitrack Diplomacy" in Washington, as well as sharing in the "Conflict Resolution" programme in Boston College. In Los Angeles he examined the "Days of Dialogue" programme as well as the 'Word of a Difference Programme' to combat sectarianism, produced by The Anti-Defamation League.

Brian visited South Africa in February 2003 as part of a Parades Commission initiative funded jointly by the Parades Commission and the Institute for Democracy in South Africa. During his stay he examined the various ways in which South African society had moved on from their conflict. As part of the wider cross-community group he also completed a short course on conflict resolution techniques.

His interest in history is demonstrated by his life membership of the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland. He has served on the Council of the PHSI since 1990. He has written extensively on Orangeism and Unionism for newspapers and journals, as well as being a contributor to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, published by the Royal Irish Academy in 2009. His book The Orange Order: A Tradition Betrayed was published in 2006.

Brian is not a member of any political party but comes from the broad Unionist tradition, whose convictions he shares. This is reflected by his involvement The Union Group, whose aims are:

". . . to promote healing and reconciliation between Unionists, and Nationalists, and between the peoples of Britain and Ireland. We stand for the Union; inclusive democratic institutions; individual rights and responsibilities; stability; social inclusion; prosperity; and mutual respect."

Brian has served on the Irish Government's Inter-Departmental Committee, for the development of the Boyne Site, and was a regular contributor at the Police College of the RUC/PSNI.

Brian was an active member of the Council of The Irish Association before being appointed President 9th May 2009. Brian believes that 'to make reason and goodwill take the place of passion and prejudice in Ireland, north and south', is the only progressive way in which we can all be the recipients of a 'shared future'.

To further that end he has led the Irish Association to continue to make a contribution in these areas of peace and reconciliation, over populated by so many recent organisations with a similar agenda.

In September 2009, a conference was held on "Northern Ireland: A Multicultural Society?" We were addressed by the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Mr Nelson McCausland .

The Christmas Receptions continue to be a popular opportunity for social interaction, with such speakers as Robert Ramsey author "Ringside Seats, and Brian Garrett, a former President of the Association (1986-1988), and now the Chairman of the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig.

A new venture, to encourage a greater response from the southern constituency, has been the Saturday Lunches in the Mount Herbert (now Sandymount) Hotel, in Landsdowne Road, Dublin. This has proved very successful with ever increasing numbers attending. Recent speakers have included, Eddie McGrady former MP for South Down, and Charles Lysaght is described as "an Irish lawyer, author and journalist. He is the foremost writer of obituaries in Ireland". Our next Lunch is scheduled for Saturday 28th May when our guest will be HE Mr Julian King, the British Ambassador to Ireland.

Our Annual St. Patrick's Day Lunch in the Malone Lodge Hotel, is still an attraction to many. In 2010 some fifty members not only enjoyed a good Lunch but also appreciated the after-dinner speaker William Graham, the former political journalist of the Irish News from. In 2011 our attendance increased to 78 when we were addressed by Liam Clarke, Political Editor of the Belfast Telegraph.

Over many years the highlight of the Association was our Annual Conference, which was always well attended. Our October 2010 Conference "Northern Ireland: Solved - not settled?", was held in the Canal Court Hotel, Newry. While numbers may not have been as good as in previous Conferences the response of those who attended was very positive. The Council wants to learn from the experience of each event as we seek to adapt to an ever-changing world.

Within that overall theme we explored issues such as 'Policing and Justice' as it touches the lives of individuals throughout the Island. We were honoured to have as our principal speakers David Ford, Northern Ireland Minister of Justice and Eamon O. Cuiv, Irish Minister for Public Protection.

We also considered the implication of Human Right legalisation from the perspective of the divergent views of four panellists, Conor Houston, Patricia McKeown, Lady Daphne Trimble and Professor Gerry Whyte.

We looked at the unsettled economic environment with Dr. John Bradley and Brian Keegan, and followed up with contemporary comment from Fintan O'Toole and Ed Curran. The Belfast writer Glenn Patterson was a much appreciated after Dinner speaker to conclude the Conference.

We are continuing to look at new ways in attracting people, particularly young people, to further the aims of the Association - 'to make reason and goodwill take the place of passion and prejudice in Ireland, north and south'.