Tuesday, 23 September 2014



Yesterday morning at 10 am I was present at the Convention Centre in Dublin when 3,100 people from nations all over the world were sworn in as Irish citizens in the present of the Irish Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald.

I was particular proud and happy because one of those 3,100 was my civil partner of 7 years standing.
Minister Fitzgerald
The occasion was one of celebration, happiness, welcome as the 3,100 new citizens were joined by thousands of their guests.

Living in the UK - as I have for 38 years - you always get the impression that immigrants are "problems" and they are accepted into the UK begrudgingly. 

But yesterday in Dublin everyone was aware and talking about the fact that immigrants are in fact a great gift to a country.

Not only do they come to work - and often do jobs that natives will not do - but they bring with them a great diversity of languages, cultures, talents, stories, that make us all more rich and make our nation diverse in the very best possible way.

Minister Fitzgerald reminded the immigrants that they were not "second class citizens" but that they had all the rights of all Irish citizens - and that in the eyes of the Irish law and constitution they now had the same rights as the President of Prime Minister (Taioseach) of the country.

Retired High Court judge Bryan McMahon - a keen sportsman - led the new citizens in their promise of allegience to the state. He reminded us all that our new citizens were becoming integrated all aspects of our lives and highlighted the case of a recent GAA match where the captain of the team had a Pakastini name.

Judge Mc Mahon
Entertainment for the occasion was provided by the fine music of the Garda (police) Band and several of the young garda stepped forward and sang solos.

Garda Band
An Irish Army platoon brought in the Irish flag and the flag was honoured by the singing of the national anthem. The new citizens had been provided with a copy of the anthem in Irish and English.

I was particularly delighted that the occasion was a total civil occasion and there were no bishops around pronouncing blessings on the new citizens - whose religions were as diverse as their backgrounds.

Yesterday I felt I was seeing Ireland at its best as a young European democracy showing all the good signs of a healthy secularism, pluralism and democracy.

Sitting there as a Christian and a priest I also had two thoughts prompted by my faith and my Gospel values:

1. I felt before my eyes I could see the fleshing out of the words of Jesus Chrsit:

"I was a stranger - and you made me welcome"

2. I also had a thought about the end of times and of the scenes at the gates of Heaven - when on the day of eternal celebration - God will there to welcome the gathering of people of all religions and none, all face colours, all races, all creeds, all ages, all genders, all sexual orientations,  all abilities / disabilities etc.

On days like yesterday we get a glimpse of the world as it should be.

+Pat Buckley


Overheard in an Orchard

Said the Robin to the Sparrow,
I should really like to know;
Why these anxious human beings,
Rush about and worry so.

Said the Sparrow to the Robin'
Friend, I think that it must be;
That they have no heavenly Father;
Such as cares for you and me!


What do you call a man with a plank of wood on his head?  Ed Wood
What do you call a man with two planks of wood on his head? I don’t know, but Ed Wood would
What do you call a man with three planks of wood on his head? Edward Woodward
What do you call a man with four planks of wood on his head? I’m not entirely sure, but Edward Woodward would


  1. What a lovely Blog today. It stirred my "Irishness" in me to.

    I also love the addition of a Thought For Today and a Humour snippet. Please keep adding these Pat as they touched me and made me smile. I used always read your column in the News of the World and alway cut out your Thought For Today.

    Congratulation too on being open and honest about who you are. In my view it makes you human like me and also gives you credibility as a priest in my eyes.

    Pamela - Enniskillen

  2. Pat,

    Thank you for sharing the above.

    You have always welcomed strangers, foreigners, the alienated.

    Thats why you got into trouble with the Roman Empire Mk 11 (as you call it) and the remains of the British Empire.

    Belfast Lawyer - Irish and Proud

  3. Sounds marvelous. I'm sure the Irish will welcome those of other backgrounds with open arms. It is a pity though that some Irish can be so ignorent in relation to their native born sons and daughters when it comes to matters of Religion, Denomination or Sexual orientation Sean

    1. Sean,

      You make a very valid point.

      Hopefully thats changing too.


    2. It's changing very quickly - withing 10 years creeds and sexual orientation will be irrelevant labels in defining people. Gerry

    3. Gerry,

      I hope you are right.

      I hope the Empire does not strike back :-(