Our legal delegation was fortunate to be in Ireland at a historic time. For example, several days after we left voters in Ireland overwhelmingly chose to change their constitution by becoming the first county in the world to legalize same sex marriage by popular vote. When we were at Trinity College we got to see, first hand, supporters who were at the center of this historic vote. We found it interesting that most of the political parties were unified in favor of this measure. It was remarkable how the “yes” campaign enjoyed considerable support from the establishment, including from Prime Minister Enda Kenny. Also of historical significance was the visit of Prince Charles and wife Camilla. The theme was healing and reconciliation and after a visit to the Republic they visited Northern Ireland, and had two days of engagements in Northern Ireland including an ecumenical service at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. St. Patrick’s is an area of Belfast that witnessed some of the worst of what is referred to as the Troubles. The divisions, to some extent, still remain and the wounds have not healed. Yet, this is a beginning. Northern Ireland is a treasure with open, caring people who have suffered much and who welcome American tourist. Like the people, the country is interesting and beautiful. The delegates will always cherish the unique opportunity we had to witness, first hand, the evolving Northern Ireland.
By: Richard Pena
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