A Cambridge University-educated protestant Bishop, who was at the forefront of sweeping changes which enabled women to be ordained, was elected as the Archbishop of Dublin today.
Dr John Neill, a 56-year-old married father-of-three, will lead the Church of Ireland’s 185,000 protestants.
His election, at a meeting of the Church’s Episcopal Electoral College in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, followed the resignation of the Most Rev Walton Empey in July.
Dr Neill, formerly Bishop of Cashel and Ossory, beat competition from the Bishop of Meath and Kildare, Richard Clarke, and Archdeacon Gordon Linney.
The son of the late Canon E M Neill, Dr Neill graduated with first class honours in Hebrew and Oriental languages at Trinity College Dublin before gaining a masters degree at Cambridge University’s Jesus College.
He was ordained in 1969 and served for two years as curate of St Paul’s in Glenageary, Co Dublin - the fourth generation of his family to enter the ministry.
After several other postings Dr Neill was made Bishop of Tuam, Killala and Achonry from 1986 to 1997 before his consecration as Bishop of Cashel and Ossory in 1997.
During his career he has served as a member of the governing body of University College Galway and on the Academic Council of the Irish School of Ecumenics.
He is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
In 1988 it was Dr Neill who proposed resolutions to allow women to be ordained, and he was chairman of the Church of Ireland General Synod Committee on Ordination of Women between 1988 and 1991.
Dr Neill is married to Betty and they have three sons, Stephen who is a rector, Andrew, a businessman, and Peter, an IT manager.