Church leaders in Ireland in united call for devolution restoration
The leaders of Ireland’s main Churches have encouraged political parties to keep their eyes on the goal of restoring devolution as the talks pause for Christmas, warning that the impasse has “damaged our health service and schools”.
Derry native and Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin joined forces with Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rev Sam McGuffin, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Churches, to make the united call after the talks were paused for the Christmas break.
Their intervention comes after an expected deal to get the Assembly and the Executive back up and running failed at the Eleventh Hour last Thursday, resulting in widespread disappointment.
In their statement, the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches said: “Like many across our community, we are disappointed that it has not been possible to restore the devolved institutions before Christmas. As leaders of Ireland’s main churches, we want to encourage all those taking part and pray that together, they fully grasp this opportunity when they return to the negotiating table in January.
“It is incumbent on all of us to recognise the road that has been travelled since the collapse of the Executive nearly three years ago. It is a journey that has damaged our health service and our schools. It has also nurtured a growing sense of despair in our politics and contributed to additional hardships and worry experienced by the most vulnerable people in our society.
“While we acknowledge that points of difference obviously remain, the goal of restoring devolution remains within reach, even if it still rests a little way off. We add our collective support for this process and encourage those taking part to continue working creatively and courageously towards a deal that can bring stability and begin to restore a sense of hope. For the sake of the whole community, we urge all our political representatives to go that extra mile.
“It is our prayer that through generosity of spirit and courageous leadership a balanced accommodation that serves the common good and has reconciliation at its heart can be found, that will lead to a sustainable power-sharing executive in the New Year.
“As the talks pause over the Christmas period and our thoughts turn once more to the birth of the Prince of Peace, it is our prayer that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will also rest upon the whole community, and the land that we share.”