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Church leaders urge politicians in Ireland to reach agreement

30 June 2017

PA

Agreement, for now: Theresa May received Arlene Foster, head of the DUP, in Downing Street on Monday

Agreement, for now: Theresa May received Arlene Foster, head of the DUP, in Downing Street on Monday

THE impasse that has frozen the Northern Ireland Assembly, and para­lysed devolved government for six months, is harming the pro­vince’s input into Brexit negotia­tions and causing hardship to the most vulnerable in society, Irish church leaders have warned.

In a letter to the leaders of the main political parties before this week’s deadline for the Assembly, the churchmen, including both the C of I and RC Archbishops of Armagh, the Presbyterian Moder­ator, and the President of the Methodist Church, have called on the province’s politi­cians to come to a settlement for the common good.

“While we acknowledge the com­plexi­ties involved in reaching an agreement, we want to express our con­tinued concern that, without an agreed budget, and with no executive ministers in place, the most vul­nerable are at greater risk, while crucial decisions on education, health, and welfare are not being taken,” the letter said.

The churchmen said that vol­un­tary and community groups at the heart of villages, towns, and cities “face mounting uncertainty, and are finding it increasingly diffi­cult to support those most in need.

“Furthermore, with no executive there has been comparatively little co-ordinated local input into the Brexit discussions, and even less detailed preparation for what lies ahead for Northern Ireland and the island as a whole.”

The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, and her negotiating colleagues ar­­rived back from London on the same day, having secured £1 billion in extra money for Northern Ireland as a price to be paid for supporting Theresa May’s minority Conserva­tive Government. Ms Foster ex­­pressed the hope that their achieve­ment would help in re-establishing the Assembly.

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