The leaders of the main Churches in Ireland met with leaders and representatives of the five main political parties in Northern Ireland today (Friday 28 September) at the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s Assembly Buildings in Belfast.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Church leaders to discuss their concerns over the impact of the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland and to explore ways in which they as Church leaders might be of assistance to political representatives in facing the challenges that lie ahead.
The Church leaders affirmed the vital place of political leadership in democratic societies and the significant level of personal commitment which that entails for those who seek to serve society in this essential way. In seeking to meet with the politicians, the Church leaders said, “In times of increasing global uncertainty, local leadership is vital to protect employment and essential public services, to give our communities – and especially our young people – a sense of confidence about the future.”
There was a wide-ranging conversation around the need to restore public confidence in the political process and institutions. Major themes arising from this morning’s conversation included the importance of relationships and trust. Leaders reflected on the need to create the space to allow for more constructive public discourse and for new relationships of trust to develop.
The Church leaders present were: Right Revd Dr Charles McMullen (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland), The Most Revd Eamon Martin (Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland), The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke (Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland), Revd William Davison (President of the Methodist Church in Ireland), Revd Brian Anderson (President of the Irish Council of Churches).
The political leaders and representatives present were: DUP: Mrs Arlene Foster MLA and Dr Philip Weir; Sinn Fein: Mrs Michelle O’Neill MLA and Mr Conor Murphy MLA; SDLP: Mr Colum Eastwood MLA and Ms Nichola Mallon MLA; UUP: Mr Robin Swann MLA and Mr Robbie Butler MLA; Alliance: Dr Stephen Farry MLA and Mr Trevor Lunn MLA
Notes to Editors
• The meeting took place as part of the Church Leaders’ Group’s regular meetings which take place throughout the year.
For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: 00353 (0) 1 505 3017 and Katie Crosby 00353 (0) 86 862 3298