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New Bishop says ‘it’s hard to beat Donegal’

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New Bishop says ‘it’s hard to beat Donegal’

Bishop Alan McGuckian

The new Bishop of Raphoe has urged Stormont politicians to agree on the Irish Language Act and to preserve the power-sharing principles of the Good Friday Agreement, which he said, is "a great gift to everyone".

Bishop Alan McGuckian is a fluent Irish speaker and would frequently visit the Donegal Gaeltacht. 

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph the new Bishop said: "Given the support there is for the local national languages of Wales and Scotland, it is obvious that there should be the same support for the traditional Irish language here.

"There is a great richness in the Irish language and I would like to see the Stormont politicians working together to make the Irish Language Act a reality.

"I know Protestants who became interested in the Irish origin of the place names where they live and they began to explore the Irish language in more depth.

"I would like to see the DUP supporters and other people beginning to find some affinity with the Irish language and not see it as a threat."

Speaking in relation to speculation of a referendum on the eighth amendment, Bishop McGuckian, said: "There is a right to life at every stage, from the beginning to the end. This is not only a religious stance, but it is also self-evident and I believe strongly that the Irish Constitution should continue to back that right."

When asked about his views on the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's backing for the Pride march in Belfast recently, the Bishop of Raphoe, said: "One of the Christian teachings is to respect people in the way that you would want them to respect you.

"So, obviously, I respect the right of everyone, including the Taoiseach, to hold his or her point of view on same-sex marriage and all those related issues. The politicians have a role to play on these matters, but as a teaching bishop I hold firmly to the biblical view that marriage is only between one man and one woman."

The 65th Bishop of Raphoe said that he had been surprised when Pope Francis announced his appointment on June 9, he said: "It is not the expectation of a Jesuit to become a bishop, and when I had the phone call telling me of my appointment I was really shocked. It will be a huge change to my life, but I will give it my all. If there is any place in the world to be a bishop, it's hard to beat Donegal."

Bishop McGuckian has left the country for his annual pilgrimage to walk part of the Camino de Santiago.