Following intense pressure from The Irish Catholic newspaper and lobbying from diplomatic and political circles the Irish Government late Tuesday belatedly announced it will send the Minister for Education to Rome for the Canonisation of Cardinal Newman on Sunday.
Pressure was building on the Government after it emerged that Prince Charles and a dozen MPs will be in Rome for the canonisation but there were no plans for the Irish Government to be represented. It is believed that there was significant disbelief in diplomatic circles about the Government’s planned absence. Minister Joe McHugh will now represent the Government in Rome.
Among those piling on the pressure formally and informally was former Taoiseach John Bruton who said “I think the Government should be represented, so should UCD. My understanding is that the university founded by John Henry Newman evolved into UCD, and this was sort of underlined by the passage of the National University of Ireland legislation in 1908,” he told this paper.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan added that it is “sad to see the Irish Government and UCD ignore the great contribution of a man of intellect, courage, and above all faith, at this time”.
She said UCD is a “tremendous gift” to the people of Ireland and Newman is “surely worth recognition and appreciation, as one of Ireland’s adopted sons is recognised across the world”.
Senator Ronan Mullen said that the Government’s failure to honour Newman “points to a very sad forgetfulness on the side of official Ireland, institutional Ireland”.
He added: “Newman is a very significant part of Irish history and at a time when Ireland was emerging from the shadows of colonialism, at a time when the people of
the majority faith in Ireland had emerged as players in political and cultural life – we only had Catholic emancipation in 1829 – Newman is part of all that story.”
Hundreds of pilgrims and at least four bishops from across Ireland will stream to the Vatican this Sunday for the celebration. The Archbishop of Dublin will not be present at the ceremony.
Historian and former UCD student Fr Anthony Gaughan told The Irish Catholic it is “very disappointing” the university had not announced there would be official attendance as Newman “means so much to UCD”.