At the invitation of An Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar TD, a delegation representing bishops and officials from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference held a two-hour bilateral meeting on Thursday 31 August with ministers in Government Buildings, Dublin. This was the first such meeting to take place under the Church-State structured dialogue process with Mr Varadkar as Taoiseach.
The Church delegation was led by Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, the president and vice-president respectively of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
After the meeting Archbishop Eamon Martin said, “We had a constructive discussion with the Taoiseach and his ministers today, and we focused on issues which are fundamental to sustaining the common good of Irish life. I believe that regular Church-State dialogue is in the interest of everyone and reflects a truly pluralist society.”
The agenda for the meeting included: World Meeting of Families 2018 and possible visit by Pope Francis; education issues; the 8th Amendment to the Constitution; Northern Ireland; International issues (development aid); and justice and social issues.
The delegation representing bishops and officials comprised Archbishop Eamon Martin; Archbishop Diarmuid Martin; Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly of Cashel & Emly; Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam; Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh & Clonmacnois; Ms Finola Finnan, Deputy Director of Trócaire; Monsignor Gearóid Dullea, Executive Secretary of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference; Mr Harry Casey, Executive Administrator of Commissions and Agencies; Ms Kate Liffey, National Director for Catechetics; and Martin Long, Director of the Catholic Communications Office.
The delegation representing the Government included the Taoiseach, Mr Leo Varadkar TD; Ms Frances Fitzgerald TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation; Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health; Mr Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Education and Skills; Ms Regina Doherty TD, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection; and Mr Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. The meeting also included officials from the Department of the Taoiseach including Mr Martin Fraser, Secretary General; Ms Miriam Dollard, Head of Protocol and Mr Brian Murphy, Chief of Staff.