Church of Ireland slams blueprint to battle division
The Church of Ireland has told First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness that the Cohesion, Sharing and Integration (CSI) strategy aimed at bridging community divisions will not work.
Its damning report published yesterday said the plans had "serious shortcomings" and would fail to provide a shared future.
"CSI lacks an underlying ethic or ethos and a genuine vision of what our shared future might look like," it said. "In such a situation it is difficult to address specific policy areas as these are either not present or, where they are suggested, are often neither consistent nor coherent."
It added: "Regrettably it appears that party politics have overtaken a genuine opportunity for OFMDFM (the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister) to deliver a blueprint for the future.
"The inclusion of so much detail on existing policies masks the serious shortcomings that exist in CSI with regard to future goals and aspirations.
"It is the view of the Church of Ireland that CSI fails to articulate a vision of, programme for, or pathway to a genuine reconciled future for Northern Ireland."
The Church appeared to back the view of critics who claim the CSI envisages a "separate but equal" future for Protestant and Catholic communities.
Its response said: "CSI seeks to promote and maintain a position of equality between two historically divided communities at the expense of community relations and reconciliation. The absence of the language of reconciliation is deeply regrettable."
The Church's submission acknowledges that it is important not to overlook the political and social progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years.
The Church proposed that "the need for peace and reconciliation should take precedence over party politics" and that "collaborative work must and can be done across political and religious divides".