Church Leaders’ statement 

Today, 2 February, the Church Leaders Group (Ireland) welcomed the anticipated restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland and recognised the challenges in reaching necessary accommodations to enable this to happen.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the Church of Ireland, Catholic Church, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches in Ireland, and the Irish Council of Churches said, “As Church leaders we have consistently called for the UK Government to take all necessary steps to facilitate the restoration of good governance in Northern Ireland and the return of fully functioning and resourced devolved institutions, north-south and east-west bodies.

“As the final steps are taken that should lead to the welcome restoration of devolved government, it is important to recognise that government is never simply an end in itself, but rather a means to an end.  A re-established Executive and Assembly are first and important steps towards re-establishing hope and a vision for the future. However, for that to be achieved it will mean a commitment to focus on the common good.  It will mean prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised of our fellow citizens.  And it will mean at times taking the long over-due hard decisions necessary to transform our public services, many of which are close to breaking point.”

The Church Leaders continued, “Partnership government will almost always be challenging, but at its best it can be much more than the sum of its collective parts.  It can be the means of delivering together a better and more secure future for all of our fellow citizens, as problems are faced up to and solved, and the new opportunities opening up are grasped.

“In November 2023, we met separately with each of the main Northern Ireland political parties and those discussions were both positive and constructive.  Each party expressed a desire and willingness to step up to the mark and play their part in restored institutions, if only the challenge of restoring devolution could be overcome.  We are now approaching that moment.”

The Church Leaders concluded, “As in these coming days our political parties seek to move forward together, acting for the common good and governing for all, they do so with the support and prayers of many in our society, ourselves included.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin
Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

Archbishop John McDowell
Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland

Right Reverend Dr Sam Mawhinney
Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland

Reverend David Turtle
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

Bishop Andrew Forster
President of the Irish Council of Churches