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Political and church leaders discuss Ireland's future

Joan_Burton will be among those addressing the summer school
Seamus McKinney

A HOST of senior political, church and civic leaders will discuss the Republic's future 100 years after the 1916 Rising at this year's McGill summer school.

Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton is included on the line-up to address this year's summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal, which commemorates writer Patrick McGill.

Known as the “navvy poet,” McGill won widespread critical acclaim for his writing about the hardship of the working classes, in particular Irish emigrants to Scotland and beyond.

Now in its 35th year, the annual summer school is regarded as the biggest such event in Ireland. The school acts as a think tank on Irish affairs north and south of the border.

This year's theme, “2016 – Ireland at the crossroads,” will be addressed by the biggest line-up of political leaders outside the Dáil or Stormont.

Founder, Joe Mulholland said the centenary of the 1916 Rising and next year's general election in the Republic was the ideal time to take a “hard look” at Ireland's institutions.

“It is fair to say that in spite of the promise of new politics, little has changed in our political system or in our parliament since the foundation of the state.

"And yet so much has changed in our country in the past few decades, much of it, it has to be said, for the better.”

Political leaders attending this year also include Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Renua leader Lucinda Creighton and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan.

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald will be joined by fellow TD, Pearse Doherty.

Senior Irish government ministers, including Leo Varadkar (health), Frances Fitzgerald (justice), Alan Kelly (environment) and Charles Flanagan (foreign affairs) will also attend.

The annual John Hume lecture – a keynote address at the summer school – will be delivered by former Tanaiste and Justice Minister, Michael McDowell.

Other senior figures will include Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin as well as Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan.

The school runs from July 19 to 24.

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