‘Fresh start’ Stormont must urgently tackle NI issues says Primate

‘Fresh start’ Stormont must urgently tackle NI issues says Primate Stormont Photo:CNS Photo/Cain Burdeau

It is time for elected politicians who know the North’s “pressing problems” to govern, particularly after being led by London, the Primate of All Ireland has insisted.

The restoring of power-sharing institutions in the North offers “an opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning”, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh told The Irish Catholic following the DUP’s backing of a deal that will see the Stormont Executive back up and running.

“I think there will be a sense of relief felt by a lot of people today who are so anxious that we can have appropriate representation to deal with the very pressing problems that we have in the North at this time,” Archbishop Martin said.

“Clearly the recent strikes brought to our attention the urgent need to deal with issues to do with pay within the civil service, within the health service, the huge waiting lists for people in our health services, the pressing issues within education, the massive problem we have at the moment within homelessness and housing in Northern Ireland, which often goes unmentioned.”

The prelate highlighted the fact the Northern Ireland Assembly has not been functioning for almost two years, and that “we have also experienced the problem of being governed at a distance from Westminster by people who don’t understand our situations, and it’s very important now that locally elected Assembly members get an opportunity to do what we elected them to do”.

Church leaders met with senior representatives of all the North’s parties in November. Archbishop Martin said that following the meeting “we got a strong sense that were this day to come everybody will put the shoulder to the wheel to try to make it work and certainly I – along I think with many people in communities, churches, faith sector, business sector, education, health, social services – everyone will hopefully give a resounding encouragement to everyone across the community now to make this work”.

Archbishop Eamon added: “I’m hoping that any remaining obstacles to getting the Assembly up and running will be overcome and that within days hopefully we will have a functioning Assembly again with the election of the necessary executives to make it work.”