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Archbishop urges Government to 'go the extra mile' with cash to help seal political deal for Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

Published 02/11/2015

Dr Justin Welby talking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday
Dr Justin Welby talking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday
David Ford in the congregation at St Anne’s
Justin Welby taking the service yesterday

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Government to "go the extra mile" in providing money to help reach a political deal at Stormont.

As the parties prepare to lobby London to demand additional cash, Dr Justin Welby told the Belfast Telegraph he would be supportive of such a package particularly addressing mental health issues.

On a one-day trip to Northern Ireland, the head of the Anglican church urged the parties still locked in negotiations to persevere to turn the current crisis into a "moment of hope".

But he told the politicians "the greater the crisis the greater the need to take risks" to reach a resolution.

The Archbishop was in Belfast to preach at a special cross-community service in St Anne's Cathedral to mark the 50th anniversary of Corrymeela.

One core theme of his sermon was "perseverance" which he referred to in every one of a series of media interviews beforehand.

Citing the example of Corrymeela, he also said peace-building in the province and other areas of conflict was a "generational process."

He said: "Everyone thinks if politicians make a few agreements, that's it, it's all done and dusted. But it's not.

"Changing the hearts of people takes generations and Corrymeela is going to be central to that.

"But what is necessary (in the current talks) is to turn that crisis into a moment of hope."

In previous visits to the province, the most Rev Welby spoke of the need for "risk-taking politicians".

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph yesterday how he would apply that to the current negotiations on dismantling paramilitarism and welfare reform, Dr Welby said: "I am always very cautious as an outsider to lecture those who are on the inside.

"I am reluctant to tell politicians what they should do because politicians have a very hard job.

"But that said, in general terms, the greater the crisis the greater the need for politicians to take risks."

And asked if he would support an approach to the Government for more money for a package of measures, believed to include funding for mental health issues, he said: "If that is what it takes... then we need to go that extra mile."

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