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King Charles Coronation: Presbyterian moderator hopeful to see Anglo-Irish relations strengthened

The general moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is hopeful King Charles III will continue to build on the "good relationships" with Ireland following his coronation ceremony on Saturday.

Speaking to Premier, Rev John Kirkpatrick said he believes the monarch will maintain the work first started by the late Queen Elizabeth II on her visit to Ireland in 2011, especially due to his personal experience with the conflict.

"He is someone who has personally suffered as a consequence of the conflict. So as someone who's got a personal story, he understands people who have gone through their own stories, and whichever side you're on, that it's a painful experience."

He continued: "If he continues in that way, he will build good relationships. And so there, I think he shows promise of doing that. I think it's his nature."

An sign of how relations may change was the attendance of President Michael D Higgins at the coronation service. For John Kirkpatrick, D Higgins' invitation was a "gesture of grace" which derived from the Queen's visit in 2011.

"On that visit she mostly established a whole new relationship. What I would describe as gestures of grace, both and her use of the Irish language and her visit to a number of historical and iconic sites that had to do with a conflict between the Irish and the British…

"So I think that's paving the way for events like this. President Higgins, is representing the Irish people in a reciprocal way, I think. And I imagined that the people in Ireland would appreciate that he's doing that. So it's a sort of a gesture of grace that's transferring back and forwards. And it's a wonderful thing. "  

It was also a first for the leader of the protestant denomination as he became the first Presbyterian representative to be part of the procession of faith leaders at a coronation service.

He told Premier he felt "privileged" to have attended.  

"I think it's once in a lifetime for anybody. And for me, it's certainly the first time ever that a Presbyterian moderator has been representing their church in that fashion in the actual procession. We had a moderator at the 1953 Queen's coronation, he was there maybe just to observe as it were, as a guest. But this was slightly different. So I was really privileged to be in that position," Rev Kirkpatrick concluded.  



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