Derry born Archbishop Eamon Martin urges incoming government to ‘put people first’
With a few days until polling in the General Election Archbishop Eamon Martin has urged whoever forms the next government to ‘put people first’.
“On Saturday the people of Ireland go to the polls at a very difficult and challenging time for many in our country. Each week seems to bring its own sad news story of violence and crime, suicide, hardship or addictions. This election provides an opportunity for citizens to choose those who will govern our country and a chance to set out the changes they wish to see,” said the Derry-born Primate of All Ireland.
Addressing the challenge of Brexit Archbishop Martin referred to how his own cross-border archbishopric was in the eye of that particular geopolitical storm.
“The Archdiocese of Armagh straddles the border and will be greatly affected by ‘Brexit’. It will be extremely important that the free movement of people and goods across the border will be maintained and that the process of peace building, reconciliation and understanding on this island is not threatened in any way. Border communities need to be consulted on the financial, technical and social supports they will need to offset any negative repercussions from ‘Brexit’,” stated Archbishop Martin.
The church leader urged any incoming government not to be in thrall to the market when it came to the challenge of addressing the housing crisis.
“The right to own one’s own home is a basic human right. The next government needs to put people first and not always be bound by market forces and private developers.
“Each local authority must receive the necessary resources to provide affordable housing for those most in need. Ireland, as the country of ‘one thousand welcomes’, must also consider with compassion its responsibility for welcoming the stranger and meeting the accommodation needs of those migrants and asylum seekers who come here,” remarked the Derry man.
He offered a number of specific prescriptions for addressing the pressures facing the health service. Any incoming health minister should, he said, ensure that “every medium sized town has a primary care centre to look after the basic health needs at a local level; more public nursing care beds are available for ‘step-down’ services to free up beds in acute hospitals, and more home care packages are available for those who wish to receive or provide care in the home and family; the salary and working conditions of nurses and other frontline health workers is commensurate with their invaluable service to society.”
He called for more resources to tackle the root causes of gangland violence and urged Catholics “to make it clear to all those seeking our vote that we expect them to support the sacredness of all human life, the dignity of the person, and the centrality of the family”.