Church leaders’ statement at ‘Faithful Peacebuilding’ conference in Belfast

27 Mar 2015

 Speaking at the international conference of the Irish Churches’ Peace Project in the Hilton Belfast Templepatrick, the leaders of the participating churches issued the following statement:

“Against the backdrop of continuing political instability, the experience of the Irish Churches’ Peace Project (ICPP) highlights the contribution of local leadership in rebuilding trust and overcoming remaining obstacles to peace in our society.  Notwithstanding the considerable achievements of the peace process, seventeen years on from the Good Friday Agreement there is still significant untapped potential for the development of new relationships in local communities across Northern Ireland and the border region.  We welcome the commitment of the European Union to further peace funding, as advocated by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government.

Our pastoral experience makes us acutely aware that we cannot afford to be complacent about the enduring impact of division in our society, which manifests in multiple, often inter-connected, forms of exclusion.  The threat to social cohesion arising from growing socio-economic inequality is a particular concern, notably in its implications for the younger generations.  As the ICPP enters the final phase of its work we will be reflecting together on how we can continue to build on the new relationships that have been established to facilitate a truly inclusive dialogue about the kind of future we want for our local communities.

We have been greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm and openness local churches have brought to this project, building on existing models of good practice in partnership with statutory agencies, the Community and Voluntary sector and political leaders.  With funding for peace-building work increasingly scarce, the time and energy of volunteers can make a crucial difference.  We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of all those who have taken up the challenge of the Irish Churches’ Peace Project.  The work of peace is central to the Christian call to love of neighbour and as Christians we have a particular responsibility to be agents of reconciliation in our communities, seeking to bring a message of hope and healing to those who are suffering.”


Notes to Editors

  • The Church leaders participating at the ‘Faithful Peacebuilding’ conference in Belfast are:
  • Archbishop Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh
  • Bishop Donal McKeown (representing Archbishop Eamon Martin), Catholic Bishop of Derry and chair of the Irish Churches’ Peace Project
  • Rev Peter Murray, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland
  • Rt Rev Dr Michael Barry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland
  • Rev Dr Donald Watts, President of the Irish Council of Churches
  • Twitter hastags for the conference are #faithpeacebuilding and #icpp, and ‘The Irish Churches Peace Project’ can also be found on Facebook.  Along with the Church leaders there are 150 participants in attendance from across Northern Ireland who are currently taking part in the work of the Irish Churches’ Peace Project.  The three main sessions of the conference consist of international perspectives on peace-building and reconciliation, followed by discussion of the learning in the context of the work of ICPP.
  • The Irish Churches’ Peace Project, launched in 2013, is an initiative of the island’s four largest churches: Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland, Methodist; and the Irish Council of Churches.  The Irish Council of Churches vision is to build a peaceful and stable society, with a better and shared future.  The Irish Churches’ Peace Project seeks to promote reconciliation in our communities through the Churches working together for the transformation of Northern Ireland and the border region.  The ICPP is a £1.3m programme funded through the EU’s PEACE III Programme which is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.  Additional funding is being provided by the Northern Ireland Executive through the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister and by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government of the Government of Ireland.  The project will run until June 2015.
  • Media can contact conference photographer Brian Morrison from (RoI)/(NI)  048/028 90657494 or +44 (0) 7710940115 to obtain photographs for publication

For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long 00353 (0) 86 172 7678