Irish Association

Northern Ireland - A Problem "Solved Rather Than Settled"

16th October 2010

The President of the Irish Association, Rev Brian Kennaway, has described Northern Ireland as a problem still to be settled. He was speaking at the opening of the Association's conference in Newry on Saturday (16th October).

He told an audience of almost 100 academics, political representative, business people and Association members that too many people, particularly in the South, had begun to regard Northern Ireland as both settled and solved within months of the Belfast Agreement. The South of Ireland was also now so preoccupied with its economic problems that it was difficult to generate any interest in affairs north of the border.

He said "Over those years the Association has been a major, and particularly in the early years sometimes a lonely player, in the cause of understanding, peace and reconciliation. Many of the leading figures of our day give testimony to the effectiveness of the Irish Association over many years, as they provided a valuable and safe platform for discussion.

"The Association has been examining itself in recent years and is convinced that there is still a place for the work of the Association in Ireland today.

"In recent years, particularly since the Belfast Agreement, the interest in the work of the Association in the South of Ireland has waned. This we believe to be the result of the mistaken idea that all is well and that all inter-communal hostility has ended.

"Sectarianism, both invisible and visible still exists. It was the rise in sectarianism, as well as the sense of the drifting apart of the peoples of Ireland, which motivated the founders of the Irish Association in the 1930's. That should still be our motivation today."

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