Northern politicians need to fight for a Brexit that suits the people of the North, Derry’s Bishop Donal McKeown has said.
“For the sake of peace on the island, as well as for the sake of economic development on the island, we need to have those who are elected in some sort of a process where they are making decisions for us: we don’t want to be the victims of somebody else’s decision-making process.
“We have to be able to make decisions ourselves,” Bishop McKeown told The Irish Catholic.
Northern Ireland’s politicians have a duty to serve their people, and are paid to do so, he said.
“They have been elected to provide an executive for Northern Ireland.
“The people on the ground, particularly the poor, are suffering most because of the failure of our system to deliver, and if they’re not prepared to deliver services they have to ask themselves very serious questions,” he said.
Commenting on how Brexit is adding an extra layer of uncertainty to the problems of the North, the bishop said in his own diocese of Derry there is a real concern about the implications of Brexit.
“We don’t have an Assembly actually functioning and engaging with the process of Brexit, and all decisions are being taken by people outside of Northern Ireland,” he said.
“I think we as Church leaders and as civic leaders have to keep saying: ‘find ways of ensuring that decisions are taken for the benefit of the people and particularly for those most affected by whatever forms Brexit takes’,” he said.
“We need people fighting for a Brexit that suits us.”
Dr McKeown expressed concerns about the consequences of an ongoing failure of politics in the North.
“Unless our politicians can make politics work, others will simply exploit the space and say there’s a non-political way that we’re going to try to influence things in our direction.
“They have to prove that politics works – that’s the whole essence of the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
“Please make politics work,” he appealed to Northern politicians, “otherwise you are opening the door to undemocratic forces.”