The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has expressed its disappointment and regret at the failure to restore the Northern Ireland Executive before 22nd October 2019, paving the way for liberalisation of abortion law and the introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
Rt Rev Dr William Henry, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said:
“Following our previous call for courageous and compassionate leadership to serve the common good in Northern Ireland we very much regret that this latest opportunity to restore devolution to Northern Ireland has not been fully grasped by our local political parties. We have consistently encouraged those on all sides to set aside their ‘red lines’ to find an accommodation that would allow the formation of an Executive, and have supported the Secretary of State in his efforts.
“It remains surprising that some parties have been willing to allow the UK Parliament to legislate for the people of Northern Ireland without consideration of the devolution settlement, and we are disappointed that the recall of the Northern Ireland Assembly today was dismissed by some as a political stunt.
“It has always been the position of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that decisions on devolved matters, including the sensitive issues of abortion and same sex marriage should remain the responsibility of our locally elected MLAs.
“While we deeply regret that the consequence of this continued stalemate will be the introduction of an abortion regime far beyond what people may imagine, the failure of this attempt to restore devolution means that many other pressing concerns will continue to remain unaddressed which affect the lives of everyone in our society, not least the marginalised and vulnerable.
“Our focus now turns to engaging with the Northern Ireland Office consultation on the regulations that have now to be implemented concerning the change in the definition of marriage, the abortion of unborn children, and the important rights of conscience for those in the medical and nursing professions.
“Although this window of opportunity has now passed we call on party leaders to renew efforts to restore devolution. The impending cliff edge with regard to the cessation of welfare mitigation payments should be a further incentive for our local elected representatives to return to government.
“We continue to pray for our elected representatives and will engage with them in the coming weeks over the impending legislative changes.”
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