As the Northern Ireland Assembly gets down to business today, Dr Mawhinney said, “On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI), I would like to offer my congratulations to Michelle O’Neil MLA and Emma Little-Pengelly MLA on becoming Northern Ireland’s First and deputy First Ministers. Along with many others, I am thankful that the Assembly has been restored, with all the challenges that involved, but now is the time to move forward recognising the need to work for the common good of all and finding collective solutions to the issues that face us, especially the most vulnerable in society.”
Echoing the words of one of Dr Mawhinney’s recent predecessors, the Moderator continued, “My colleague Dr David Bruce made the point that, ‘politics is not for the faint hearted, it requires courage, strong leadership, maturity, trust and respect.’ He is not wrong. All of these are necessary elements when called to lead in the public square. It is my prayer that Ms O’Neill and Mrs Little-Pengelly will develop a strong working relationship that will enable them to work effectively together for the common good.”
Dr Mawhinney continued, “The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging. The cost-of-living crisis, continued strain on the public sector, growing waiting lists and recent strike action has had an undeniable impact on the public. Now more than ever we look to those in leadership to bring confidence, stability and the necessary progress we all want to see.
“During this time, we have been grateful to Northern Ireland’s senior civil servants, along with others across all sectors, for their leadership. While we welcome the return of devolution, we acknowledge that Ms O’Neill, Mrs Little-Pengelly along with the other Executive Ministers, have a challenging task ahead of them. During this time, and the weeks ahead they can be assured of my prayers and the prayers of many throughout PCI as they begin working together,” he said.
The Convenor of PCI’s Council of Public Affairs, Rev Daniel Kane of West Presbyterian Church in Ballymena, added his congratulations to all those who have taken ministerial responsibilities within the Executive and urged them to draw up a Programme for Government with the utmost of urgency. “Politics in Northern Ireland has always been a challenging endeavour, with the recent years proving increasingly difficult and the challenges ahead should not be underestimated.
“Disagreements are inevitable, as they are part of life. We need a framework for disagreeing well in a way that shows understanding, appreciation, love and respect. This is especially true when considering and disagreeing about the most vulnerable in society, in these circumstances it is not enough to ‘agree to disagree’ there needs to be a way to deliver progress, even in a delicate political climate, and that will require the grace of disagreeing well.”
Mr Kane continued, “Now that the Assembly has been restored, we urge all our political leaders to work with civility and compassion for the peace and prosperity of our province doing everything in their power to set aside party agendas and work for the benefit of everyone in Northern Ireland. I hope that they will be able to demonstrate servant-hearted leadership that will prioritise the needs of the poor and most vulnerable in our society, while always seeking the benefit everyone in Northern Ireland. The Bible reminds and commands us to pray for those in authority, and I would encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ, to invest time in praying for those called to lead.”
Photos (1) Rt Rev Dr Sam Mawhinney, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (2) Rev Daniel Kane, Convenor of PCI’s Council of Public Affairs.