Today provides an opportunity for a new start for Northern Ireland’s political institutions and one that can also offer fresh hope, say the leaders of Ireland’s four main Churches.
“It became clear that the line in the sand had turned into a canyon. This protocol graciously allows us to continue to live out the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, albeit in different expressions,” says Methodist Bishop Thomas Bickerton.
‘We are very excited. We hope it will be a moment of grace for us here in the North and for all of Ireland as well’ – Manuel McGivern, spokesperson for Focolare.
These evangelical churches report a good ethnic mix and a young age profile, with 46 per cent of members aged under 30, and 75 per cent aged under 50.
“There are no quick fixes,” but the accord “gave us the opportunity – the breathing space – to look for goodwill”: Archbishop Richard Clarke.
“I thank all those involved. We want to build a future that is respectful, inclusive and vibrant. Northern Ireland can have a very bright future built on respect and celebration of diversity.”
Desertmartin is a Church of Ireland primary school while Knocknagin is a Catholic Maintained Primary. The two are set to make history by becoming the first jointly-run church school in Northern Ireland.
Research shows that 96% of all Chairs; 96% of all principals; 97% of all teachers and 94% of all parents regarded these small schools to be making a valuable contribution to primary education.
An “unacceptable level of child poverty” is affecting over 100,000 children, roughly 6% of Northern Ireland’s population and “constitutes a real crisis”.
"Threat to social cohesion arising from growing socio-economic inequality is a particular concern, notably in its implications for the younger generations."