As this week’s talks deadline draws near, Ireland’s Church Leaders have written to the leaders of the five main political parties involved in the current Northern Ireland talks process to strongly encourage them “to go the extra mile” to reach an accommodation that works “for the common good of all in our society.”
The letter, which has also been copied to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and to Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, highlights the fact that without an agreed budget, or Executive ministers in place to make crucial decisions, both the most vulnerable people and the small voluntary and community groups that serve them, are at risk.
Sent by the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, President of the Irish Council of Churches and the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the letter also makes the point that “little co-ordinated local input into the Brexit discussions” has taken place, “and even less detailed preparation for what lies ahead for Northern Ireland and the island as a whole” can happen without a functioning Executive in place.
Recognising their responsibility to pray for all those in political authority, the Church Leaders point out the responsibility of the political parties towards the people of Northern Ireland, writing that their prayer and hope is that the politicians “will take the action necessary to end the uncertainty that is weighing heavily on our society.
“This week we strongly encourage all the political leaders involved in the talks to go the extra mile to reach an accommodation, which establishes a sustainable administration that will work for the common good of all in our society.”
The letter was circulated to Mr Colum Eastwood MLA, Rt Hon Arlene Foster MLA, Ms Naomi Long MLA, Ms Michelle O’Neill MLA, Mr Robin Swann MLA cc Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and to Mr Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The letter is signed by Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh; Rev Dr Laurence Graham, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; Archbishop Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh; Bishop John McDowell, President of the Irish Council of Churches; and, Rt Rev Dr Noble McNeely, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.