Church leaders encouraged to continue talks with NI politicians
Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has urged the leaders of the main churches in Ireland to continue their discussions with the political parties here about the absence of devolved government.
Mrs Bradley made her comments after she met the six leaders at Stormont House yesterday ahead of discussions with the parties around restoring devolution.
The leaders representing the Catholic Church and denominations of Protestantism said their meeting yesterday had been positive and encouraging, but again stressed that building trust is important to help resurrect power-sharing.
The churches were represented by Presbyterian Moderator Dr Charles McMullen; Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor; Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Rev Trevor Gribben; Church of Ireland Primate Dr Richard Clarke; President of the Methodist Church, the Rev William Davison, and the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, John McDowell. Last month, church leaders met political representatives to share their concerns about the lack of devolution and the importance of relationships and building trust.
Following their meeting with the Secretary of State, the church leaders said they had impressed upon her the same concerns, as they did with the party leaders.
In a joint statement they said: "Our discussions today came on the back of our meeting with the political parties a week ago, where we discussed our concerns over the impact of the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland and the importance of relationships and building trust. We also impressed upon the Secretary of State those same concerns, as we did last week with the party leaders, and reiterated our willingness and desire to assist and support where we could in the challenges that lie ahead. We also emphasised the imperative to find space for ongoing dialogue."
Mrs Bradley said she welcomed the initiative by the church leaders to meet the political parties last month and encouraged them to continue those discussions.