By Ann Marie Foley - 19 January, 2017
Politicians in Northern Ireland have been urged to work for the common good by the Catholic and Church of Ireland Archbishops.
In the wake of what he called the “premature collapse” of the political institutions “so soon after the last election”, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, issued a special message to politicians and all who serve in the civil and political sphere.
He said it is “a serious matter for all of us and cannot be taken lightly.” He urged the politicians: “Do not resort to predictable, wearisome slogans or denigrating, divisive language.”
He said that he is picking up from people on the ground the risk of further disillusionment with the political process, and he acknowledged that it takes courage and generosity to stand for public office, but it also brings a “trusted responsibility for leadership and integrity”.
It is important for the people, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged – the poor, those who struggle daily to bring up their families and make ends meet – to have confidence in politicians, he said.
He added, “Your call to public service will sometimes mean making sacrifices, offering compromise and building bridges to overcome barriers as they arise.
“We have all learned through bitter experience that wrong is never all on one side – too many families among us still grieve the losses, or nurse the wounds of sectarianism and hatred. We do not want that for our children and grandchildren.”
He concluded by saying that other troubled parts of the world look to Northern Ireland as a sign of hope that peace can be achieved. He urged the politicians to continue to work to sustain the painstaking progress which many, including past politicians, have helped to deliver.
He said that the churches are available to assist in any way and will pray for politicians in the coming weeks.
The Most Revd Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, has written personally to the leaders of the main political parties in Northern Ireland.
He assured them of his prayers at what he called “this politically difficult time”.
He asked all members of the Church of Ireland to pray for God’s guidance, and urged them to: “seek to say and do only that which is for the common good of all the people of Northern Ireland. Such prayer is clearly enjoined on us by the Scriptures and by the Church of Ireland’s Book of Common Prayer”.