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.