“The call to public service, especially to political office, can often be onerous, especially in uncertain and challenging times. On behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, I would like to offer my congratulations to Mr Heaton-Harris on his appointment and assure him of my prayers, along with the prayers of many in our Church across the island of Ireland,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.
“Mr Heaton-Harris assumes this office, along with his Cabinet colleagues, at a time when the UK is facing some of the most trying and complex domestic issues, especially the increasing impact of the cost of living emergency alongside the energy crisis. On top of these, as Secretary of State he will have to deal with the unique issues which confront Northern Ireland, including matters relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the continued lack of a functioning Executive.”
In a letter to the newly appointed Secretary of State, Dr Kirkpatrick said “Last September my predecessor said that the power-sharing arrangements which exist in Northern Ireland, ‘while not by any means perfect, are precious.’ As a Church, we deeply regret that circumstances are such that parties have not found themselves in a position to re-form the Assembly and Executive, especially at this time of mounting hardship so that significant issues like the cost of living emergency, healthcare reform, education and a budget, can be addressed.
“It is my hope and prayer that working with your colleagues in Government, along with local parties, and the Irish Government, you will be able to facilitate the necessary steps that create the circumstances whereby devolution can be restored,” he said.
Dr Kirkpatrick concluded his letter by saying, “Earlier this week, in a letter to the Prime Minister, I said that the Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 13:4 that the ‘one in authority is God’s servant for good.’ While the issues you face are many and varied, as you get to grips with your office, I am also reminded that Jesus calls us to go the extra mile. In that, you can also be assured of my prayers and those of many in our Church.”