Church leaders meet Tánaiste to discuss concerns over Stormont impasse

Deadlock ‘affecting community life, public services and cross-Border co-operation’

Leaders of Ireland's main churches met the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Thursday as part of ongoing dialogue in relation to restoring the devolved institutions to Northern Ireland, following the collapse of the Stormont Assembly in January 2017.

It follows their meeting with Northern Ireland's political parties at the end of September and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, earlier this month,

In a statement on Thursday welcoming the opportunity to meet Mr Coveney, they said: “In our previous meetings with the political parties and the secretary of state over the last few weeks, we have impressed upon them our concerns that the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland was affecting many areas of community life, the delivery of public services and cross-border co-operation.”

They continued: “we conveyed these concerns to the Tánaiste, while emphasising the importance of continuing to build relationships and trust among all concerned, even in these difficult times. We also welcomed the opportunity to hear the Irish Government’s assessment of the current situation.


Engagement and participation

“While not underestimating the challenges involved in moving forward, we emphasised the importance of dialogue and finding the space that encourages engagement and participation. As we had done with the political parties and the secretary of state previously, we reiterated our willingness and desire to assist in the process where we could.”

Church leaders in attendance at the meeting included the Church of Ireland primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, the Presbyterian moderator Rev Dr Charles Mullen, and president of the Methodist Church Rev William Davison. The Catholic primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, who is attending a synod in Rome, was represented by Msgr Joseph McGuinness, administrator of Clogher diocese. Also at the meeting was Rev Brian Anderson, president of the Irish Council of Churches.

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times