The Church of Ireland is that part of the Irish Church which was influenced by the Reformation while maintaining its origins and continuity with the mission of the early Celtic church of St Patrick, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the 5th century. The Church of Ireland has a strong local identity, but it is also conscious of being part of the Catholic Church, not least through its membership of the Anglican Communion. The Church of Ireland is happy to describe her faith and order, witness and worship as being both "Catholic and Reformed" in substance and expression.
Ireland today is a divided island. The six counties of the north, Northern Ireland, are a part of the United Kingdom and the other 26 counties form the Republic of Ireland, which is a fully independent country, though maintaining close links with the rest of the British Isles, as well as with the European Union of which it is a member. The Church of Ireland's membership embraces both unionist and nationalist perspectives. It believes it has an important reconciling contribution to make towards resolving Ireland's political problems, not least through confronting the evil of sectarianism by its "Hard Gospel" programme. Within the ecumenical context, the Church of Ireland is committed to serious dialogue and active cooperation with all the main churches in Ireland, through its membership of the Irish Council of Churches and the Irish Inter-Church Meeting. It endeavours to contribute positively to the development of interfaith dialogue within the pluralist nature of society, particularly in the Republic and to provide a welcome for the large number of refugee and asylum seekers currently seeking a new beginning in Ireland. It is also a member of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Apart from other Anglican churches, the Church of Ireland is in full communion with the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, the Church of Pakistan, the Church of South India, the Church of North India, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar and through the Porvoo Agreement, with the Baltic-Nordic Lutheran Churches.