27 Mar 2017
We are saddened today to hear that the talks process amongst our MLAs and political leaders has not resulted in the formation of a functioning government at Stormont.
Nineteen years after the Good Friday Agreement Northern Ireland is unrecognisable. We have seen such progress and our peace process continues to offer hope to people in areas of conflict around the world. And yet as we approach Good Friday 2017 we have no functioning government at Stormont.
In the midst of the turbulence of the past few months, there have been meaningful encounters between our politicians. We saw it in the public comments from unexpected corners around the illness and death of Martin McGuinness; in warm applause from a congregation and in stretching out to shake a hand.
Our society is in need of continued public gestures of good will, especially between politicians of different backgrounds and perspectives. In a divided society, gestures of friendship and encounter demonstrate the kinds of relationships that are needed if there is to be any hope of creating a shared future.
To this end we invite politicians to Corrymeela. Corrymeela has long been an environment where people from different perspectives come to meet each other. Such meetings do not seek consensus, but recognise that deep relationships can flourish when disagreement is enacted wisely rather than destructively. To understand another person can contribute to the deepest kind of collaboration, even for political opposites.
We know that many rich and robust relationships exist amongst elected politicians here. We know, too, that our society does not see enough of how resilient these relationships are, and can be. Talks processes that collapse do little to deepen public confidence that day–to–day issues can be areas of collaboration, never mind the important legacy issues of the past, commemorations and cultural expression.
At a time when the relationships between Ireland and the UK are under pressure we offer our location and space and support to all political leaders who want to work together for the betterment and wellbeing of all who live in Northern Ireland.
We believe that people can live and work well together. And we believe that relationships are the foundation of such work and life.
Pádraig Ó Tuama
Leader, The Corrymeela Community.