The Integrated Education Fund has heard with great sadness of the death of Margaret Kennedy, one of the founders of integrated education in Northern Ireland. Margaret was crucial to the early days of the All Children Together (ACT) movement which led to the establishment of Lagan College, which opened in 1981. She was a teacher herself and a committed member of the Church of Ireland – one of the earliest Protestants to join ACT. She was active in many early meetings with the church hierarchy as ACT sought support for the 1978 Education Act, which enabled schools to transform to integrated ethos. It was important to ACT that integrated schools were Christian in character and had pastoral support from clergy of all denominations.
On behalf of ACT Margaret contributed to consultations on religious education and on peace-building and along with Bill Brown spoke to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin Castle in 1995.
Margaret served as Chair and then Director of ACT and continued throughout her life to actively and vocally support the growth of integrated education in NI, saying at one stage
“What more radical form of reconciliation could there be than educating children together, Protestant and Catholic, in their formative years, with nurture and pastoral care from their respective clergy?” (letter published in the Irish Times, Irish News, Nov 1997)
And writing in 2015 in the Belfast Telegraph: “the most successful vehicle for reducing separation and sectarianism has been the establishment of integrated schools.”
Margaret Kennedy, with her husband John, was a great supporter of the IEF and made a valuable contribution to our work and to so many of our events over the years.
Addressing the ACT AGM in 2001, she wrote:
“I have the greatest pride in this movement. It is the activity in my life of which I have most pride…Northern Ireland is a better place for us having been here.”
Margaret will be sorely missed by the Fund and by the wider integrated education movement, and our thoughts are with John and her wider family circle at this sad time.
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