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Church should turn attention to austerity policies

Last week, a delegation from the Northern Ireland Catholic Council for Social Affairs (NICCOSA), led by the Bishop of Down and Connor, the Most Rev Noel Treanor, met with a delegation of the DUP at Stormont.

They met to give their support to proposed legislation that would sanctify discrimination against LGBT people.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church in England and Wales issued advice to Catholic voters. In it, the bishops argued that business "should see itself at the service of society", asking: "Do your candidates support a living wage and a thriving private sector committed to fair pay and the dignity of human work?" Back at Stormont, the Assembly was pushing through the final stages of the Welfare Reform Bill. This Bill is a central plank of the Tory programme of austerity, which is designed to upend the social fabric of our society. Is this not more suitable for the concerned attention of the Catholic Church?

During our campaign of opposition to austerity, the trade unions sought meetings with the hierarchies of the main Christian denominations. Apart from one meeting, two years ago, there has been no sustained anti-austerity campaign which could in any way be compared to the high-profile stance of the Catholic Church in England and Wales.

I would suggest to Bishop Treanor that the long-term impact of welfare reform and austerity policies on their congregation will be considerably more profound and damaging than all the 'gay cake' on this island.

PETER BUNTING

Assistant general secretary

Irish Congress of Trade Unions

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