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Do your utmost to restore the Assembly, clerics urge

By Noel McAdam

The four main church leaders have urged Stormont parties to "do their utmost" to restore the devolved Assembly.

Ahead of the resumption of negotiations between the five biggest Assembly parties next Monday, they said political leaders should build bridges and overcome differences.

Their aim should be, a statement said, "to provide leadership for the good of all the people of Northern Ireland, irrespective of political or religious background".

The statement was signed on behalf of Presbyterian Moderator Dr Frank Sellar, Catholic Primate Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke, and Methodist President the Rev Bill Mullally.

And they drew on yesterday's 100th anniversary commemorations at Messines in Belgium at which they were all present.

The First World War commemoration had "marked the tragedy and futility of war and the searing pain and loss which Irish people from all walks of life encountered one hundred years ago at the Battle of Messines".

"The battle was the first time that soldiers from both traditions in Ireland, unionist and nationalist, fought side-by-side during the conflict," their joint statement said.

"At this time, in 2017, when talks among the political parties in Northern Ireland have been postponed until after the UK General Election, it seems like an appropriate moment to draw on the words of the Peace Pledge at the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines."

The pledge states: "We appeal to all people in Ireland to help build a peaceful and tolerant society. Let us remember the solidarity and trust that developed between Protestant and Catholic soldiers when they served together in these trenches.

"We affirm that a fitting tribute to the principles for which men and women from the island of Ireland died in both World Wars would be permanent peace."

The church leaders went on: "It is our hope and prayer that the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland will all do their utmost to build bridges, overcome differences and find constructive ways forward to build on the peace which has been established at home, and to continue through the devolved Assembly to provide leadership for the good of all the people of Northern Ireland."

Belfast Telegraph


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