Irish church leaders urge an end to the nastiness of the Brexit debates
As the final stages of the initial part of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union draw to a close, we as Church Leaders here on the island of Ireland are inspired by the challenge of Jesus to love our neighbour.
Relationships between the people of this island, both North and South, and between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, have improved and deepened immeasurably over the past 30 or so years. This atmosphere of mutual respect, understanding and growing friendship has been the positive background against which many significant developments have taken place – ceasefires, political accommodation, increased connectedness and rising prosperity for many.
It is important that we acknowledge the legitimate aspirations of those who voted to leave the European Union and those who voted to remain. We also pray at this time that the inevitable tensions, which the Brexit negotiations and their outworking will entail, will not be allowed to undermine the quality of relationships and mutual understanding which are both so important in enabling all of us to work together for the common good.
In this context, we particularly want to encourage public representatives, and all others who give leadership in our society, to weigh their words carefully, to respect the integrity of those who conscientiously differ from them and to speak with grace.
Regardless of the outcome of this process, as peoples and communities who share this island, we will remain closely related and will have to both get along together and work together in this changing and somewhat uncertain world that lies ahead.
This calling will be helped immensely as we all strive to listen and relate to one another in the context of mutual respect and even growing trust, rather in a divisive and unhealthy atmosphere of needlessly destructive debate and broken and fractured relationships.
The Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; the Rev William Davison, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; the Most Rev Eamon Martin, Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; the Right Rev Dr Charles McMullen, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland; the Rev Brian Anderson, President of the Irish Council of Churches