Posted on 02. Oct, 2014
At the Autumn General Meeting of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which took place this week in the Columba Centre of Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, bishops discussed and welcomed the announcement of political talks in Northern Ireland. Please see the full statement below:
Bishops welcomed the announcement of a fresh round of multi-party talks, involving the governments of Ireland and Britain, to address the issues that continue to impede the effective operation of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the path to a stable, reconciled future
Encouraging the parties to engage in a spirit of shared commitment to the common good, bishops called on all to look beyond purely personal or partisan interests and to keep the shared hopes of present and future generations for a more reconciled and prosperous future to the forefront of their efforts as the talks begin.
Bishops expressed the hope that politicians would see the talks as an opportunity to build confidence in the effectiveness of politics and in the capacity of politicians to lead in building a better future for all. Noting the immense progress that has been made in recent years through the combined efforts of many, bishops encouraged those involved in the talks to explore how the partnership between those in the community, religious and civic spheres, which proved so vital in the past, can be reengaged in the search for solutions to present and future difficulties.
Drawing on the Christian imperative to give priority to the needs of the most vulnerable, bishops made a special appeal to the governments of Ireland and Britain to recognise the particular history and circumstances of Northern Ireland and to do all in their power to assist local politicians in building a more balanced and prosperous economy so that Northern Ireland’s alarmingly high levels of child poverty and pressing health and welfare needs can be addressed.
Expressing particular concern at the impact of the proposed welfare cuts and other reductions in public funding on the most vulnerable, bishops emphasised the need for both governments, for the European Union and for others to continue to invest sufficient resources in the transition to a sustainable future in Northern Ireland.