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Ireland’s religious representatives consult online on the Conference on the Future of Europe

Press release: 2 December 2021

The Centre for Religion, Human Values, and International Relations at Dublin City University, supported by the Irish Inter–Church Meeting and the Dublin City Inter-Faith Forum, today (2 December) hosted an online consultation on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Religious leaders and representatives from across the island of Ireland gathered to discuss key themes around the Conference on the Future of Europe including the regional and global role of the European Union; the EU response to migrants and asylum seekers; the creation of a social and physical environment characterized by equity, sustainability, and shared agency; the impact of algorithmic systems on democratic discourse; the promotion of European values; and to consider the role of religious communities regionally and nationally when it comes to Europe’s challenges and priorities.

DCU President Daire Keogh said: “By hosting today’s event, the Centre for Religion, Human Values and International Affairs is fulfilling an important element of its mission - to investigate and promote models for achieving peace and global cooperation.”

In a welcoming address, Minister of State for European Affairs Thomas Byrne said: “As we look ahead to the fiftieth anniversary of Ireland joining the EU in 2023, it is timely that we reflect on the type of Europe we, as a collective society, want to foster in the next half century and the role Ireland will play in this process. It is important to acknowledge that not all groups in society have shared equally in this progress and continue to face obstacles in the way of their full participation. Certain communities encounter particular challenges today.

He continued: “You, as leaders and representatives of faith communities and denominations, may encounter them in your pastoral work throughout towns and villages in Ireland. Events like today are very useful to help us consider what role the EU can play in providing better access to opportunities across the likes of education, employment, and health in the years ahead for the most marginalised in our societies.”

Other keynote speakers included Noelle O’Connell, CEO of the European Movement and panellists from the religious communities:

● The Most Reverend Noel Treanor, Bishop of Down and Connor

● Gillian Kingston, Vice-President at the World Methodist Council

● Patricia Rainsford, Head of Public Affairs, Office of the Bahá’–ís of Ireland

● Ahmed Hasain, Chief Executive Officer, Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland

A report on the event will be submitted to the Conference on the Future of

Europe and will be publicly available on their web platform.


Media queries to:

Interview opportunity: With Philip McDonagh, Director, Centre for Religion, Human Values, and International Relations at Dublin City University

Editor’s note:




1. The UN Secretary–General’s recent report, “Our Common Agenda” (September 2021), states: “the world is experiencing its biggest shared test since the Second World War … Humanity faces a stark and urgent choice: breakdown or breakthrough.” To what extent will the future of the European Union depend on our becoming “part of the solution” at the regional and global levels?

2. Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen’s “State of the Union” address on 15 September was entitled “Strengthening the Soul of our Union.” Do we agree with the formula that “the democratic state relies on conditions that it cannot itself guarantee” and do the churches and religious communities have a role in discerning and promoting European values?

3. An important theme at the recent EU Fundamental Rights Forum (11 –12 October) was that protecting human rights includes the creation of a social and physical environment characterized by equity, sustainability, and shared agency. Should the European Union promote greater “equality of condition” as part of our just transition in the face of climate change?

4. In relation to migrants, asylum–seekers, and the likelihood of continuing, strong migratory trends in the decades ahead, does the European Union have the decision-making capacity to ensure forward–looking responses in a spirit of burden–sharing?

5. Algorithmic systems that exploit personal data, deliberate disinformation (trolls), on–line hate speech, the collapse of the traditional business model of the “fourth estate,” and dangers to the independence of the media have serious implications for democratic discourse. Do we need a European digital public sphere and what would this entail?

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