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Parliament Buildings, Stormont piror to the start of a new round of political talks Parliament Buildings, Stormont piror to the start of a new round of political talks  (AFP or licensors)

Irish Church Leaders: “A time for courageous leadership”

Christian leaders in Northern Ireland release a joint statement encouraging “substantive development” in talks between political parties, after having met with party leaders in Belfast.

By Joachim Teigen

“A fresh window of opportunity, albeit born of tragedy” the leaders of the main Christian denominations said about the current inter-party talks in Northern Ireland.

Together, the leaders of the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church and the Irish Council of Churches released a statement on 14 May. This after jointly having met with participants in the inter-party talks at Stormont House in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Opportunity born of tragedy

The background of the talks is the murder of journalist Lyra McKee by a member of the New IRA on 19 April, a dissident republican group that rejects the Good Friday Agreement.

The reactions in the wake of the murder pressured politicians to once again attempt to solve the Stormont impasse, a collapse in political negotiations which has caused Northern Ireland to be without a government for two years, thus being governed from Westminster.

New talks between Northern Ireland parties and governments commenced on 7 May.

“Jesus calls us to go the extra mile”

In their statement, the Church leaders jointly expressed that their hope and prayer is that the talks will result in the “establishment of a sustainable power-sharing executive”.

“In our churches” they said, “we are witnessing daily the damaging and continuing impact of not having a functioning devolved government”. They added that “now is the time” to solve the impasse, for the sake of all those who rely on a well-functioning government for their well-being.

They challenged the different parties to meet one another with a spirit of accommodation for the sake of the common good, adding that: “The Lord Jesus calls us all to go the extra mile for one another and to do what is necessary for the greater good”.

Listen to the report by Joachim Teigen
15 May 2019, 15:50