Eamon Martin and Leo Varadkar discuss the North and pluralist Irish society

Eamon Martin.
Eamon Martin.

Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, met the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Thursday to discuss how best the Catholic Church and the southern Irish state can collaborate to help create a pluralist Ireland.

At the invitation of An Taoiseach, a delegation representing bishops and officials from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference held a two-hour bilateral meeting today 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.

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.