A Roman Catholic school in north Belfast has presented a reconciliation award to an Orangeman.
The Terry Donaghy/Bearnageeha Reconciliation Award was presented this morning, April 7, by the former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern to David Scott, Education Officer for the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland. The presentation took place, at the annual cross community breakfast in St. Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha, on Belfast’s Antrim Road.
The award is named after deceased former Bearnageeha teacher Terry Donaghy, who later switched professions to become a very successful Belfast solicitor.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Terry’s son Leo reflected on his dad’s days in the College during the 60’s and 70’s.
Leo Donaghy said: “It was a period of great upheaval, but he always had fond memories of his time spent teaching here and he never forgot the school, its teachers and its pupils. St Patrick’s Bearnageeha always had a special place in his heart. He taught English and R.E here and because of his devotion to his faith, the boys nicknamed him “the Bishop”!
“Dad always instilled in us a sense of acceptance of others, whoever they were. In his desire to build bridges during the darkest days of the “troubles”, he was moved, along with others, to co- found a small lobby group known as “the Northern Consensus Group”- and we are delighted that some other founding members are in attendance this morning-, a group which campaigned for peace and cross community government in Northern Ireland. As time went by, he also felt compelled to build bridges in a tangible way with members of other denominations in Belfast and this culminated in him attending a rota of Protestant church services to worship with them on a Sunday morning, having attended Mass the previous evening.
“He always was one for reaching out to others and breaking new ground- We know he would really approve of this event, because it promotes peace and reconciliation. We, the family, are sure that he would have wholeheartedly approved of the choice of this morning’s recipient of this award.”
College headmaster P.J. O’Grady said: “Terry greatly influenced the ethos of Bearnageeha when he taught here – and that influence prevails until the present day.
“Terry was widely respected in the legal world but he was also revered by many who recognised his unceasing endeavours to improve the lot of his fellow man. He was a great egalitarian, a dedicated ecumenist and a tireless campaigner for reconciliation.
“Sadly – and symbolically – Terry Donaghy passed away two years ago on a cold January evening at the gates of the City Hall, during a march for peace in the Middle East.
“Following his death the College and the Donaghy family joined forces to set up the ‘Terry Donaghy/Bearnageeha Reconciliation Award’. This accolade was announced at last year’s cross community breakfast by the then Lord Mayor Naomi Long thus setting the scene for this morning’s inaugural presentation.
Dad always instilled in us a sense of acceptance of others, whoever they were
“There may be some ‘raised eyebrows’ that David Scott is the recipient of this award. However, in the spirit of what Terry Donaghy was about there should be no surprises!
“When it came to the quest for reconciliation Terry believed in “pushing the boat out”. And we in Bearnageeha endeavour to do likewise – as I trust our record will confirm. In that special symbiosis between Terry Donaghy and Bearnageeha, the “soft option” was never an option!”
“David Scott, Education Officer of the Orange Order has been visiting St. Patrick’s College for the past seven years. He speaks annually to sixth formers about the Orange Order and there
is always a lively, robust question and answer session between pupils and guest speaker. Terry Donaghy was a man who believed passionately in being pro-active about peace and reconciliation. His family and the College believe that he would have been proud of the award, would have endorsed this morning’s recipient and indeed the ongoing tremendous work being done by David Scott.
“However, there is always a danger in such situations that key issues be conveniently circumvented or glossed over, because they are ‘uncomfortable’ issues.
“This is most certainly not the case when the Education Officer of the Orange Order [and I emphasise that word “education”] speaks to our boys.
“On the contrary, engagement is positive because it is incisive, upfront, real and honest. It ranges from banners to parades – and remember that a great many of our boys come from the Crumlin Road/Ardoyne area.
“I admire David Scott’s professional and open approach with our boys and I admire the positive participation of our Sixth Formers.
“Crucially, our boys and David come away from our annual discussions in no way diminished as the fine people they are. A real sense of friendship is evident and we always issue an invitation to David to return!
“This year we are planning another significant development by inviting some members of the local Belfast Orange Order to visit the College and join a group of our Sixth Formers for coffee and conversation in a spirit of friendship.
“It is my firm belief, as an educator, that such interaction can only lead to “win-win” as regards ‘mutual respect’ all round.
“When we can all enjoy the wonderful entertainment this morning from students representing different cultures – especially that joint rendering of Fyffe, Bodhran, Lambeg and Tin Whistle – I go away from this morning with a profound sense of hope because here, in the wonderful young people of the Shankill and Falls, the New Lodge Road and the Newtownards Road lies the future of our beloved city of Belfast.”
David Scott, Education Officer of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said he was delighted to receive the award.
“My role is to reach out and explain the values and traditions of the Orange Institution. I talk to schools and organisations from all sections of the community and try to give them a better understanding of the Order. The pupils at St. Patrick’s have always shown great interest in our tradition. They listen intently and they ask some very tough questions, which I am happy to
“If we are to have a shared future then we need to understand each others’ history, culture and traditions. We need to have an appreciation that cultural difference is a good thing and should be seen as providing richness in society.
“To be the first recipient of this award is an indication of the efforts the education programme is making in society. This acknowledgement by St. Patrick’s should be a positive message to other schools and hopefully will encourage them to engage with us in promoting greater understanding.
“It is a great honour for the Orange Institution to receive this award and I thank the school and the Donaghy family for their support.”