Northern Ireland society feels more divided now than it has “for a generation” following the collapse of Stormont, a Church of Ireland bishop has said.
In his new year message, the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Rt Rev Ken Good, said many people over the past year will have thought to themselves: ‘Stop the world, I want to get off.’
He referred to a host of problems such as “our creaking health and social care service” and “the suicide epidemic north and south”.
Dr Good added: “We’ve seen the collapse of the political institutions at Stormont; our society has felt more divided than for a generation; the full implications of Brexit have only begun dawning on us (with nobody really sure how well or how badly that will end) and there are people in our world – in the year 2017 – dying of starvation and dying from preventable diseases.”
Looking towards 2018, Dr Good urged people to not only “make a difference but to be the difference”.
The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, meanwhile, has urged politicians to “redouble their efforts” to ensure the return of power-sharing government to Northern Ireland.
Archbishop Eamon Martin said: “I’m disappointed that we seem to have gone into a kind of vacuum at the moment, with very little sense of direction.
“I know from speaking to my own friends, family and neighbours that people are frustrated that there appears to be nothing happening.”
He added: “So, at this time of the year, I once more encourage all those who have any part to play in the new year to redouble their efforts – hopefully in time for the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.”