Neither the Government nor University College Dublin are expected to be officially represented at the canonisation of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Rome next Sunday, despite a slew of dignitaries attending from the UK.
Cardinal Newman was UCD’s first rector and president when it was founded as the Catholic University of Ireland.
However, Prince Charles will represent Queen Elizabeth at the ceremony, along with 13 cross-party MPs and peers from Westminster as well as UK ambassador to the Holy See Sally Axworthy and the prime minister’s special envoy for freedom of religion or belief Rehman Chishti MP.
Birmingham, where Newman founded the first English Oratory and died in 1890 aged 89, will be represented by its lord mayor, Mohammed Azim, while the Archbishop of Canterbury will be represented by Bishop of Portsmouth Christopher Foster.
The University of Oxford will be represented by Neil Mendoza, Provost of Oriel College, where Newman was a fellow and Dame Hilary Boulding, president of Oxford’s Trinity College, where he was an undergraduate.
The Irish Times reported the likely absence on Monday, and by Tuesday the letters page was registering its dissatisfaction. One writer called the State’s lack of representation ’unfathomable’, while asking if it was ‘another case of political correctness gone mad, such as the banning of Christmas cribs in public hospitals and the like?’