The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Reverend Dr Justin Welby today hosted a luncheon and meeting with representatives of the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) from Northern Ireland.
The meeting was held at the invitation of the Archbishop, for him to be informed of the origins and work of the LCC; in particular its role in committing former loyalist paramilitary groups to the peace process and opposing all forms of criminality; and its work to address severe educational under-achievement in loyalist communities. During the meeting, the LCC members and the Archbishop discussed issues relating to social justice, peace and reconciliation and resolving the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
The Archbishop heard about the impact of educational under-attainment, particularly in relation to working-class Protestant young men, as well as the long-term problems relating to high levels of suicide in disadvantaged communities. The delegation re-affirmed its commitment to ensuring that Northern Ireland remains peaceful and stable, and to addressing ongoing divisions between communities. The delegation also highlighted the importance of how any legacy process should be comprehensive and inclusive and not marginalise the loyalist community.
The LCC members discussed what assistance the Archbishop might be able to offer in terms of supporting the work of the LCC and to consider what role he might have, as an international church leader, in helping Northern Ireland deal with painful legacy issues. The members also discussed with the Archbishop the importance of developing young leaders within working-class Protestant communities, and asked what advice and support he may be able to provide in relation to developing initiatives which develop the capacity of young people and expose them to a wider range of influences and experiences.
The LCC members presented the Archbishop with a copy of ‘Bangor – Light of the World’, an historical account of the evangelism of Saint Columbanus from Bangor Abbey, Co. Down written by the eminent Ulster historian, Dr Ian Adamson.
The LCC was represented by David Campbell (Chairman), Richard Monteith (Secretary), Winston Irvine, Jackie McDonald, and Robert Williamson of the Dalaradia organisation.