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Northern Ireland religious leaders welcome return of Stormont

The Primate of All-Ireland has welcomed a new political agreement that restores the suspended democratic institutions set up as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The legislative assembly and governing executive – established on a cross-community power-sharing basis between parties representing both the Catholic and Protestant communities – collapsed more than three years ago due to a lack of trust between the parties.

However, on 10th January the Irish and British governments – co-guarantors of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought an end to 30 years of sectarian strife that saw more than 3,500 people killed – published a new set of proposals to restore trust. The following morning, the assembly met and elected a new minister.

The Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, joined with other Church leaders in welcoming the new deal as “a balanced accommodation that is focused on the common good.”

Along with leaders of the other mainline Churches, he said he hoped the reestablishment of the institutions “can begin to address the political and social crisis that has developed due to the prolonged absence of a functioning executive and assembly.”

The region has suffered a severe crisis in both education and health care in recent years due to a chronic lack of funds and the absence of decision-makers.

Picture: General View of Parliament Buildings at Stormont, Belfast. (Paul Faith/PA).