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Liam - Christianity

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Chamber Business Team

I was born in Northern Ireland and later went to primary school there, a few years before the Troubles began. In the playground, the children had to form three lines to go into their separate Assemblies: Church of Ireland/Anglican; other Protestant denominations; and Roman Catholic.

We all thus absorbed unconsciously religious denomination as a pervasive, and dividing, factor. My Irish first name instantly identifies me with the minority community in Northern Ireland.

The politics of Northern Ireland are of course far too complicated to be reduced to a simple struggle of Protestant v Catholic. It wasn't till years later I told my parents about those separate Assemblies, and what we had been told in our relatively small Roman Catholic group of the perils of mixed (Catholic-Protestant) marriage.

My father's occupation meant that we moved away when I was eleven.

As I grew older, Northern Ireland was frequently in the news for the worst of reasons. My own choice of career was to work at the House of Commons in the service of peaceful politics - my personal rejection of the terrible violence inflicted on my native land by terrorism and division.

I hope that our Faith Week will be a celebration of diversity rather than a reinforcement of difference.

It's often said that that Clerks are impartial, and I hope that's true. But never mistake neutrality for indifference.