Political leaders across Ireland and Britain need to work together to show leadership around Brexit, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh has said.
Describing border communities as “worried” and “anxious” about the UK’s impending exit from the European Union, the Primate of All-Ireland told iCatholic.ie that they “are wondering what is going to happen, and when you have uncertainty like that, it’s only natural that people will be fearful”.
In this context, and citing the January 21 car bomb in his home town of Derry, Dr Martin stressed the importance of politicians and other leaders engaging in genuine dialogue around Brexit.
“It does appear that we need to get our act together to be able to ensure that there is peace and reconciliation, all those things we have worked so hard to achieve in recent years,” he said, describing the bombing as “horrific” and a reminder of how things used to be in the North.
“I think it’s so important that we work with each other now,” he said. “I would call on the political leaders in Northern Ireland, political leaders north and south in this island, in the UK government, the Irish Government, all of our local assembly members, to get together at this point to show some leadership because the communities are calling for that.”
He expressed concern, however, that the ongoing impasse around Stormont following the assembly’s January 2017 collapse over the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal was making matters worse.
“We’ve been without our assembly now for more than two years, and what that does is it puts people back into their corners, where we do tend towards rhetoric and shouting at each other and scoring points – we win, you lose, we lose, you win,” he said. “This is the time when we need to work together for a win-win for all people on this island.”
Maintaining that a return to the Troubles must be avoided “at all costs”, the archbishop said he believed it is time to capitalise on the relationships that improved during the peace process.
“This is a time for all of our political leaders to model that for the common good,” he said.