Meeting between the Taoiseach and the Church Leaders Group (Ireland)

15 Apr 2021

The following statement was published by the Government Press Office:

The Taoiseach today met with all island Christian Church Leaders:

Most Rev Eamon Martin, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of all Ireland 

Most Rev John McDowell, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh & Primate of all Ireland

Rt Rev Dr David Bruce, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland  

Rev Dr Tom McKnight, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland and

Very Rev Dr Ivan Patterson, President of the Irish Council of Churches

The Taoiseach praised the Church Leaders for their ongoing contribution to peace building, and recognised the work that Churches undertake on an ongoing and daily basis at community levels in Northern Ireland. 

The Taoiseach and Church Leaders had a very constructive discussion on Northern Ireland, including a shared and grave concern at recent incidents of violence on the streets. 

The Taoiseach and Church Leaders agreed that the causes of the recent violence are complex, – but reiterated that it is essential that calm, measured and positive leadership be exercised at every level – political, civic and community, for all the people of Northern Ireland. 

The Taoiseach and the Church Leaders discussed the complexities and sensitivities around implementation of the NI/Ire Protocol and the commitment to uphold the B/GFA in all its parts and to disrupt life in NI as little as possible.

The Taoiseach and Church Leaders recognised the 1921 centenaries as profoundly important and sensitive moments in engaging with the shared history of these islands and agreed that it would be important to promote a sensitive, inclusive and respectful approach in the marking of those centenaries still to come. 

In this context, the Taoiseach welcomed the Church Leaders’ St Patrick’s Day message reflecting on the centenary of partition and of the formation of Northern Ireland, which highlighted the valuable opportunity they provide to recognise different perspectives on our history in a way that explores what can be learned for today and contributes to reconciliation and healing on the island.

The Taoiseach discussed with the Church Leaders the Government’s Shared Island initiative. Both the Church Leaders and the Taoiseach recognised  the importance of dialogue, engagement and respect for all communities and traditions on these islands in fostering reconciliation through the framework of the Good Friday Agreement.

The meeting also focused on a number of issues relating to social cohesion, in particular the need to ensure that, as we build towards recovery following the pandemic, that it is inclusive and balanced, leaving no one behind. 

The Taoiseach referred to the Government’s intention to publish a National Economic Recovery Plan. The Plan will outline how Government will help people return to work, and support sectors which have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and who will face particular challenges during the recovery phase.

The Taoiseach stressed the importance that, as we plot a pathway through recovery and beyond, there is a need to move beyond uniquely economic measures in gauging our progress as a country, to ensure a more holistic approach, which encompasses people’s quality of life. To this end, work has begun on developing an overarching Well-being Framework for Ireland. This was welcomed by the Church Leaders who noted the link to the work being done through the Irish Inter-Church Meeting with DCU on ‘The Economics of Belonging’.

The Taoiseach and Church Leaders agreed the pandemic has posed challenges for all of our citizens in terms of their mental health and wellbeing and recognised the importance of faith to the spiritual and mental well-being of many people and communities and look forward to the time when church services and other in-person activities can resume.


For media contact: Catholic Communications Office Maynooth: Martin Long +353 (0) 86 172 7678 and Brenda Drumm +353 (0) 87 310 4444.