Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson has been elected as the new Archbishop of Dublin and Glendalough, by the Episcopal Electoral College for Dublin and Glendalough, which met at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin today. Bishop Jackson has been Bishop of Clogher, which spans both sides of the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, since 2002.
In 2008, he launced the ground-breaking report on the views and experiences of Border Protestants living in the Diocese of Clogher. The report, entitled ‘Whatever You Say, Say Nothing’, identified ethnic cleansing — the murder of border Protestants to drive them from their farms and holdings to clear the region of Protestant influence — as a reality for most of those interviewed. Accounts were given of how individuals were “picked off” strategically and the report concluded that a legacy of fear remains. At the launch, the Bishop said: “I have every confidence that, while particular to Clogher diocese, it will resonate by its honesty of its insight into every corner of the Church of Ireland and beyond.”
In 2009, Rt Revd Dr Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher, stood up for the educational needs of Protestants in the Republic of Ireland. He stated that “this is an area where questions of identity remain highly charged and impassioned. The sudden guillotining of Free School status and the consequent withdrawal of the SEC grant at the beginning of 2009 hit very hard at an agreement which had, since the foundation of the State, enabled Protestant people to provide and to experience education in accordance with the Protestant ethos. One fell administrative swoop has cut at the root of this and the devastation of its impact raises serious and on-going questions about respect for Protestant identity as an interwoven component in national identity.”
And last year, Bishop Jackson, also significantly acknowledged the positive contribution Orangemen make to the local churches and communities. He said, “The Church of Ireland Diocese of Clogher, like the other Dioceses within Northern Ireland and straddling the Border Counties, numbers many members of the Orange Order in its parishes. Significant numbers of them contribute to the life of their parishes and play their part as members of the Church of Ireland locally and further a field.”
His election to the See of Dublin will give Southern Protestants hope that in him they have an Archbishop who will be able to articulate their opinion and promote their much loved Protestant identity and ethos.