Today Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, led a delegation from the Northern Ireland Catholic Council on Social Affairs (NICCOSA) for the first official meeting between representatives of the Catholic Church and the new leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Mr Colum Eastwood MLA. The meeting took place in Belfast.
Speaking after the meeting, Archbishop Martin said that the Church delegation welcomed the opportunity to discuss a range of issues with the party, including “the shocking increase in levels of childhood poverty during the mandate of the last Assembly and the SDLP’s positive commitment to building a culture of life and care”.
Archbishop Martin continued, “This is the first in a round of meetings our Council on Social Affairs is having with the political parties in the North over coming weeks. We want to support politicians in their noble vocation of building a better society and to explore how we as a Church, with other faith communities and civic groups, can work together with politicians in the next Assembly to address the many challenges confronting our society. We highlighted in particular the growing levels of childhood poverty in Northern Ireland and the increasing gap between rich and poor, as well as the continuing challenges of sectarianism, reconciliation and dealing with the past. Referencing the loss of the mechanisms for ongoing civic engagement promised in the Belfast