Northern Ireland news

Church leaders call for unified political response to recent violence

Church leaders have published an open letter appealing to politicians to `treat Northern Ireland's fragile peace with care'

CHURCH leaders have reminded politicians from Ireland, Britain and the EU of their responsibilities to "peace, reconciliation and the protection of the most vulnerable" following recent violence and community tensions.

The Irish Church Leaders Group today publishes an open letter appealing to "treat Northern Ireland's fragile peace with care".

Describing rioting as "heartbreaking", they call on the Stormont Executive to "make a joint approach" to the British government and EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

They also express support for the PSNI, after meeting the Chief Constable to encourage its "ongoing commitment to political and civic engagement to address root causes of violence".

The letter is signed by Catholic Primate of All-Ireland Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Primate John McDowell, Presbyterian Moderator David Bruce, Methodist President Tom McKnight and Dr Ivan Patterson, President of the Irish Council of Churches.

It says the causes of the recent violence "are complex and, in some respects, deep-rooted", with church workers and community leaders on the ground frustrated "at seeing another generation of young people risk their lives and their futures".

"These challenges can only be addressed by political leaders coming together with a genuine desire to find solutions and accommodations which meet the legitimate concerns of others as well as their own."

They said the only "good chance of a successful outcome", is if the EU and the British government "are approached jointly by the entire Northern Ireland Executive advocating for the protection of the common good".

"Such a joint approach would be difficult to turn down, but to develop it will require a renewed generosity of spirit from political leaders on all sides of our community."

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