The Presbyterian Church in Ireland has expressed its ‘grave concern’ at proposals to allow the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to give direction to Northern Ireland’s Department of Health over the head of the Northern Ireland Executive.
In a statement it said, “The Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s General Council Standing Committee, meeting on 19th March 2021, noted with grave concern the proposal of the Secretary for State for Northern Ireland to seek powers to give direction to Northern Ireland’s Department of Health.
“To do so at a time when the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive is functioning, represents a serious undermining of the devolved settlement, when there is already significant tension regarding other aspects of the way Northern Ireland is being affected post Brexit.
“The Presbyterian Church in Ireland objected strongly to the Westminster government previously imposing laws on Northern Ireland that removed the protection of the lives of unborn children. This damaging step was taken over the heads of our elected Assembly, with the excuse given that the devolved institutions were not functioning at that time. No such excuse for the undermining of devolution can be used at this time.
The statement concluded by saying, “The Presbyterian Church calls upon the Secretary of State not to take the step he proposes and to let the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly seek to find a consensus way forward, in line with the principle upon which devolution is founded.”