Belfast Telegraph

Church leaders call on NI politicians to focus on restoring devolution

They said the situation had damaged the health service and schools.

(PA)
(PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

Church leaders have urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to keep their eyes on the goal of restoring devolution.

In their joint statement, the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches said they were disappointed a return to powersharing was not possible before Christmas.

They said: “As leaders of Ireland’s main churches, we want to encourage all those taking part and we pray that, together, they fully grasp this opportunity when they return to the negotiating table in January.

“It is incumbent on all of us to recognise the road that has been travelled since the collapse of the Executive nearly three years ago.”

For the sake of the whole community, we urge all our political representatives to go that extra mile

They said it had damaged our health service and our schools.

The statement added: “It has also nurtured a growing sense of despair in our politics and contributed to additional hardships and worry experienced by the most vulnerable people in our society.

“While we acknowledge that points of difference obviously remain, the goal of restoring devolution remains within reach, even if it still rests a little way off.

“We add our collective support for this process and encourage those taking part to continue working creatively and courageously towards a deal that can bring stability and begin to restore a sense of hope.

“For the sake of the whole community, we urge all our political representatives to go that extra mile.”

They prayed that through “generosity of spirit and courageous leadership a balanced accommodation” that serves the common good, and has reconciliation at its heart, can be found and one that will lead to a sustainable power-sharing executive in the New Year.

“As the talks pause over the Christmas period and our thoughts turn once more to the birth of the Prince of Peace, it is our prayer that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will also rest upon the whole community and the land that we share,” the statement said.

Talks ended without a resolution, with the British Government accusing the DUP of thwarting a break through before the festive break.

PA

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