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January 1, 2015

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Leader in local Christian Charity calls for an active response to sectarianism

August 11, 2010

Published Ballymena Guardian, 11 August 2010

A former Ballymena youth worker has called on churches to respond to the Executive’s Programme for Cohesion, Sharing and Integration in the wake of a recent sectarian incident. Jeremy Gardiner, who now works for Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), believes that Christian leaders need to be involved in transformative action so as to prevent repeats of the paint attack in Harryville.

Only three days after Peter Robinson and Martin McGuiness published their proposals to deal with sectarianism and hate crime, vandals damaged Our Lady’s Church with paint in what the PSNI described as a sectarian attack. Under the new proposals, ministers will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to attacks motivated by sectarian, religious, racist or hate prejudice. “The attack on Harryville church on Saturday past shows even though there seems to be progress at Stormont, division is still embedded in our communities,” explained Mr Gardiner, who is the Assembly and Development Officer for CARE in Northern Ireland.

As a youth pastor with High Kirk Presbyterian church, Mr Gardiner was involved in cleaning up Our Lady’s Church in 2005 after a similar attack. “It was an act of rolling up our sleeves, reaching out and addressing the divide. It led to conversation between the Catholic Church and local community leaders, and as a result the UDA mural in the area was removed. Whilst the recent attack in Harryville was dispiriting, and one wonders if anything has changed, churches in the area can once again take a lead.”

A public consultation process on the so-called shared future strategy has been launched and will run until the 29th October. Meetings on the proposals which can be attended by anyone will be held throughout September. Jeremy Gardiner, who in this year’s General Election helped organize a debate for the candidates in a local church, believes that church leaders and members need to seize this opportunity to respond. “As Christians, we can engage with the consultation process and take seriously our call to pursue justice. The church needs to think about its role in this process, and to speak with a prophetic voice.”

Building from his own experience of working with different communities, Mr Gardiner believes that churches have a physical response to play within contested communities. “We can’t simply say our piece and expect everyone to listen. We need to follow the biblical principle to love our neighbour, in how we respond to the attacks that happen in our neighbourhoods, and in how we interact with those who are different to us. The vision of the church is to speak good news to the circumstances it faces daily, and we ought to be doing that with our hands, as well as our mouths.”

Jeremy Gardiner of CARE (Ghost-written)

June 19, 2010

Belfast Newsletter, Platform

Often in Northern Ireland we think that what goes on between the big parties in Westminster doesn’t really concern us. And yet the decisions taken by the parties which have dominated British politics for generations can have enormous consequences on this Province and its people. Just recently we saw public outrage at David Cameron’s interview with Jeremy Paxman. And now the Labour leadership contest is underway, with potentially serious ramifications for Northern Ireland.
Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, just about got her required 33 nominations for the Labour leadership in before Wednesday’s lunchtime deadline. Ms. Abbott has, for the last two summers, spoke in the House of Commons advocating the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act in Northern Ireland. In July 2008, along with colleagues, she tabled an amendment to the Human Embryology Bill designed to bring the Province into line with the rest of the UK on this issue. If elected as Labour leader, it is highly likely that Ms. Abbott would seek to use her power to seek to extend the legislation to the Province, regardless of the devolution of justice powers. This is despite the fact that the vast majority of people here, including our elected representatives, do not wish to see abortion carried out here to the same scale that it is in Britain. Were she to not only win the leadership, but also a future General Election, the pressure on local politicians to adhere to her ideas could be immense.
Ms Abbott claims to be speaking for the women of Northern Ireland, but where are the politicians speaking for those women who are pressured into having abortions by their partners or families, and those who are suffering from stress after making such a decision? Who is standing up for those women who are lured into prostitution rings, for whom pregnancy holds such fear? The charity I work for, Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) deals first hand with women all over the UK who are not given adequate counsel either before, or after an abortion. The free, impartial, confidential advice we offer is an invaluable service for many women, but one which should be offered to women by their Government, not leaving them to seek it for themselves using Google.

Jeremy Gardiner is the Assembly and Development Officer for CARE in Northern Ireland (

Cycling for Charity

September 30, 2009

Coleraine Chronicle and Coleraine Times

Two American brothers rode into Portstewart last week as part of their round the world cycling trip, designed to raise money for an orphanage in India. Randall and Andrew Leese arrived in Portstewart on Wednesday evening via the shores of Lough Neagh having left Newry early that morning. But whilst that might seem a daunting trip to many, the athletic siblings have already travelled over 7,000 miles from their home city of Seattle, collecting over £15,000 along the way.
The trip, which will take two years and 25,000 miles to complete, started back in April. Since then, they have cycled from coast to coast in the United States, through France, England and now Ireland. They hope to arrive in southern India via Turkey and Russia sometime in mid 2010 and deliver their pledge funds to the Servi Domini Orphanage in Palayamkottai.
“This is a dream I’ve had for two years,” says elder brother Andrew, 29. “Doing it as a fundraiser was kind of an afterthought. But after I emailed my brother, he jumped all over it and we decided to do it together. ”
Their current fundraising efforts have doubled their target, and the brothers are keen to thank sponsors from home and donors they have met along the way. Additionally, this is a ‘no overheads trip’, with the boys paying for their own living expenses and travel costs. Randall, 22, adds, “We’re essentially shelling out $30,000 of our own money to ensure that every penny donated to the orphanage really goes to its needs. Too many organizations recycle a significant percentage of their revenue into their own operation. We don’t like that. As for us, we’re basically bicycle delivery boys whose sense of adventure is totally disproportionate to the task at hand.”
Inspired by their sense of adventure, the brothers have overcome 32 flat tires and numerous parts changes as well as hills, wind and atrocious camping conditions. “Our next stop is Larne, then over to Scotland, and then we’ll be looking to head south into Spain and Morocco as the colder months close in” explained Andrew.
To read more about or to donate to The Orphan Ride, see their Web site:

Press Release for KIlcranny House

August 23, 2009

Summer Daze at Kilcranny House

Coleraine is set for a bonanza week of arts and culture [15th-22nd August] as Kilcranny House hosts its Summer Daze festival, offering entertainment, enlightenment and a chance to experiment with a new skill.

Boasting an international flavour, the week kicks off this Saturday [15th] with a Festival Fun Day at the Centre with Bollywood Dancers and South American mask makers adding a touch of glamour to the day. There will also be a chance to learn a new skill through participating in one of the glass painting or drumming workshops. Bouncy castles and face painting will keep the children entertained for the afternoon and for adults looking simply to unwind, there will be live music on offer, ensuring an activity packed afternoon for all.
On Monday and Tuesday mornings there will be the opportunity to learn mask making from the Latin experts in Ballysally and Kilowen areas. On Monday evening listen to Roberta Bacic present ‘Threads of Hope’, an inspirational Chilean documentary. Bacic was a powerful voice against the military regime of Chile in the 1970s, suffering the consequences of being fired from her university job and being arrested. After many years as a member of the peace group War Resistors’ International, Bacic now lives in Northern Ireland and has a powerful story to tell.
For those with more of a palette for local history, local author and storyteller Dr Bob Curran will provide a stimulating historical tour of Garvagh on Tuesday afternoon, complete with lunch. On Wednesday and Thursday evenings, why not try a new skill, be it Bollywood Dancing, or Jewellery making?
The week’s activities, which are funded by Coleraine Borough Council and International Fund for Ireland, finish on Saturday 22nd with a Gallery Exhibition at Coleraine Town Hall.

Kilcranny House was established in 1985 as a residential, educational and resource centre. Set alongside the River Bann, the centre aims to promote reconciliation in the local community, not just between residents, but between locals and the land.

For more information on the Summer Daze festival, or to make a booking telephone Lisa on 077*******7

Sheffield United 1 Manchester United 2 – Milk Cup Premier Final

August 1, 2009

This was written for the Sheffield Star


Sheffield United under 17s came within a last minute penalty claim to upsetting the odds and capping off a memorable week in Northern Ireland as they lost narrowly to Manchester United in their first appearance in the Milk Cup Premier Final. The Blades had reached the latter stages on goal difference and defeated F.C. Porto on penalties in Thursday’s semi-final in the prestigious youth tournament, which this year featured 50 teams from 18 countries.

Despite starting brightly with Shane Murray giving the opposing goalkeeper problems from distance, United fell behind to the defending champions on 16 minutes, when good link up play between Robbie Brady and Michael Ngoo saw the latter squeeze in the opener despite the best efforts of Sam Andrew and Terry Kennedy. United continued to close down the favourites effectively, and were almost rewarded at the end of the first half but Corey Gregory’s header went wide.

In the second half the match fell victim to the miserable conditions and tired legs in what was the teams’ fifth match in as many days. United hopes faded when on 52 minutes slick passing saw Etzaz Hussain finish the move he started, slotting home past the unfortunate Andrew.

The Blades continued to press however, and Murray continued to deliver dangerous set pieces. In stoppage time, it was a free kick swung in by the midfielder that caused confusion, leaving Kennedy to slot home from six yards. Moments later the referee turned down loud claims for a penalty after a United player was felled in the box.

Sheffield United (4-4-2) Sam Andrew, Kalum O’Kane, Harry Maguire (sub Joe Ironside 69), Terry Kennedy, Kingsley James (sub Liam Wilkinson 58), Kingsley Williams, Shane Murray, Jordan Stew, Ishmael Lammy (sub Elliot Witehouse 58), Corey Gregory (sub Troy Pennybrooke Morgan 53), Callum McFadzean
Coach: Kevin Fogg

Manchester United (4-4-2) Samuel Johnstone, Michael Keane, Ezekiel Fryers, Sean McGinty, Thomas Thorpe, Ravel Morrison, Etzaz Hussain, William Keane, Robbie Brady, John Cofie, Michael Ngoo
Coach: Paul McGuiness

A response to the death of Daniel Jimeno Romero, in the Pamplona Bull Run

July 11, 2009

Published: Belfast Newsletter, 11 July 2009, page 3, in entirety

When I heard the news that Daniel Jimeno Romero had been fatally gored running with the bulls in Pamplona, I listened with interest.  A year ago, that could have been me.

Last summer, I fulfilled a dream by participating in the pinnacle of the ancient San Fermin festival.  Swamped by tourists now, it grows increasingly dangerous, as with no limit on participants, crowds of people clamber over each other in search of safety.  The bulls are vicious beasts.  The name Capuchino, which was given to the bull that gored Daniel to death, betrays the destruction that is locked up in these tonne weight animals, a characteristic usually hidden if the bulls stay in a pack and continue forwards along the course.  Unfortunately yesterday [Friday] that didn’t happen, and the unpredictable nature of a frightened yet fierce animal was unleashed on whatever would move.  Separated from the pack, the bull feels vulnerable and pretty soon the foolhardy participants do too.  The bull will react to any sudden movement, and unfortunately Daniel was one of the runners who couldn’t get himself stopped quickly enough.

It is a dangerous game, but tremendous fun.  The most exciting things in life come with a risk attached, be that starting up your own business, or bungee jumping.  Given the chance, I’d run again, and one day before I get too old to be wise, I plan to.  Yesterday [Friday] was a sober reminder though, that risks should be calculated, or the consequences can be tragic.