The uncertainty of Brexit, the increase in people needing to avail of food banks, and the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland are just some of the issues Ireland’s Church Leaders highlighted in their New Year statement for 2019.

The joint statement encourages political, community and Church leaders to talk with one another and build relationships to “foster mutual understanding.”

“We see pictures in newspapers and on television that speak of suffering and despair in different countries and regions,” the statement says, adding that many live their lives with a lack of security and an absence of hope.

The ongoing uncertainty of Brexit has added to those worries…Many businesses fear for the future, while many families, struggling to make ends meet today, are anxious about what that future might hold.

They add that the willingness of people in local communities to reach out to their neighbours through initiatives such as food banks is encouraging, though the increase in people needing these services is “a worrying trend.”

They state that the lack of a working government in Northern Ireland “drains hope from our society” and adds pressure to services like schools and hospitals.

“While such situations can be very challenging for many people, today across Ireland there are also glimmers of hope,” the statement says.  “Up and down the island, neighbours are looking out for neighbours.”

Ordinary people, community and church groups are caring for those in need.  People of good intent are stepping up to the mark and giving positive leadership on the ground, working for the common good.

“In villages and towns across the island, political, church and community leaders are making a difference at a local level,” it says.

In regards to Northern’s Ireland’s current governmental crisis they added:

As Church leaders we have urged the leaders of our political parties in Northern Ireland to do the same – to make a difference and to bring a sense of hope.

“We were encouraged by the willingness of party leaders to meet with us last September,” it says, “as we sought to provide a safe space to facilitate open discussion and mutual understanding.”

Along with other regional meetings across Ireland, they hope such initiatives will be taken by “different people of good will at local and regional level.”

ENDS