This is a statement on the political situation in Northern Ireland that the Presbyterian Moderator will make today:
At the start of this month, in our New Year Message, I wrote with Ireland’s other church leaders that ‘The world is an uncertain place’. We did not know that within two short weeks Northern Ireland’s political institutions would be plunged into further crisis.
It is at times like these that we must be clear about the values upon which we want our society and institutions to be based.
For both to function well, there must be integrity, a commitment to openness, generosity of spirit and cooperation for the common good.
These values – and personal and collective demonstrations of goodwill and empathy – are also important and are at the heart of what it means to love our neighbour, as our Lord Jesus commanded.
No institution is perfect and as imperfect people in an imperfect world, we all fail at times to embrace values that promote respect, encourage and build others up.
With an election on the horizon and what are likely to be very difficult negotiations that follow, I call on all involved to show a willingness to listen carefully to each other, to honour and value one another and to work constructively in partnership.
The drawing of too many ‘lines in the sand’ will only thwart progress on resolving the pressing issues that we face as a society.
Northern Ireland’s political institutions are the fruit of difficult and committed negotiation and I give thanks for all those who have worked so hard over the past 18 years and beyond. We have come a long way, but still have far to go.
It will be my prayer in the next number of days and weeks that our political leaders will receive abundant grace and wisdom, so that a vision for the common good will emerge.
Rt Rev Dr Frank Sellar, Moderator Presbyterian Church in Ireland