Church leaders unite to urge Stormont politicians to end impasse

Men say there is a pressing need to end the political deadlock ‘in the interests of all in our society’

Ireland’s church leaders have appealed in an open letter to politicians involved in the Northern Ireland talks process ‘to go the extra mile’ to reach a deal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire.

Ireland’s church leaders have appealed in an open letter to politicians involved in the Northern Ireland talks process ‘to go the extra mile’ to reach a deal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire.

 

Ireland’s church leaders have appealed in an open letter to politicians involved in the Northern Ireland talks process “to go the extra mile” and reach an accommodation that works “for the common good of all in our society”.

The open letter has been copied to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire.

They churchmen noted how “it has been some 114 days since March’s election to the Northern Ireland Assembly. With the current June 29th talks deadline drawing near, as Church leaders we wanted to encourage you...and re-emphasise the pressing need for everyone to act together to end the current political impasse in the interests of all in our society.”

Acknowledging the complexities involved, they expressed “our continued concern that without an agreed budget and with no Executive ministers in place, the most vulnerable are at greater risk, while crucial decisions on education, health and welfare are not being taken.”

‘Mounting uncertainty’

Small voluntary and community groups, which played “such a vital role at the heart of our villages, towns and cities”, faced “mounting uncertainty and were finding it increasingly difficult to support those most in need,” they said.

Furthermore, they added, “with no Executive there has been comparatively little co-ordinated local input into the Brexit discussions and even less detailed preparation for what lies ahead for Northern Ireland and the island as a whole.”

In conclusion they said “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 sent by the Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, Methodist President Rev Dr Laurence Graham, Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, president of the Irish Council of Churches Bishop John McDowell, and the Presbyterian Moderator Rev Dr Noble McNeely.

It has been sent to the SDLP’s Colum Eastwood, DUP’s Arlene Foster, Alliance Party’s Naomi Long, Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, and the Ulster Unionist Party’s Robin Swann.