Church leaders meet Sinn Fein to discuss welfare reform

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Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Left to right: Alex Maskey MLA, Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ivan Patterson, Archbishop Alan Harper, Mickey Brady MLA, Cardinal Seán Brady, Methodist President Rev Ian Henderson, Conor Murphy MP MLA

The four church leaders met with a Sinn Féin delegation last Friday to discuss the implications of possible welfare reforms in Northern Ireland. The meeting took place in Armagh and is part an ongoing involvement of the church leaders with this issue. Before Christmas they traveled to London and met with Lord Freud and the Minister for Social Development Nelson McCausland. Then in February they hosted a public debate in Assembly Buildings, Belfast, involving Owen Paterson and Minister McCausland in front of an invited audience representative of interested community groups. The church leaders who attended the meeting were Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop Alan Harper, Methodist President Rev Ian Henderson and Presbyterian Moderator Dr Ivan Patterson. Sinn Féin were represented by MLA’s Conor Murphy MP, Alex Maskey and Mickey Brady. During the two hour meeting the current time frame for legislation was discussed together with ways in which the Assembly could maximize positive benefits while at the same time mitigating the negative effects that any such reforms will bring about, particularly as it may effect children in poverty. For the church leaders, Archbishop Harper, who chaired the meeting said, “We have already shown our concern over welfare reform and its potential impact on family life. Today’s meeting was part of our ongoing interest and engagement with this important issue.” Alex Maskey for Sinn Féin said, “We very much appreciate the interest that the church leaders have taken in welfare reform. Today was an opportunity to discuss issues of common concern and encourage the church leaders to continue their involvement in speaking up for the most vulnerable people in our society.”
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