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Archbishop Eamon Martin ( Irish Catholic bishops)

The bishops of Northern Ireland have sharply criticised the outgoing British Government for maintaining the two-child benefits cap and called for its abolition in the next Parliament. Source: The Tablet.

The introduction of the two-child cap on child benefits by the outgoing government in Westminster was strongly condemned by Northern Ireland’s bishops as “socially and morally abhorrent”.

In a stinging pastoral reflection ahead of yesterday’s election, the five bishops said the tax on having children had compounded child poverty in Northern Ireland, which suffers some of the highest levels of poverty in the UK.

They appealed to politicians to make the eradication of “unacceptable levels” of child poverty an urgent priority.

“Too many families are suffering real financial hardships” and a lack of access to health and social services which “are at breaking point”, they warned, adding that under-funding of Northern Ireland by the UK Government had undermined local democracy and further eroded confidence in politics. 

The statement was issued on behalf of Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, his auxiliary Bishop Michael Router, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop Alan McGuckian of Down and Connor and Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher.

They said there should be a needs-based analysis of the economic and social deficits in the funding of Northern Ireland. 

They also highlighted recent data which showed that 26.3 per cent of Northern Ireland’s population is on a hospital waiting list while the spending per pupil in education is consistently lower than in England and adequate resources for special education needs services continues to fall far short, despite rapid growth in the number of children requiring this assistance over the past 10 years.

The statement from Northern Ireland’s bishops emphasised that at the heart of the vision of a vibrant, cohesive and flourishing society is “an absolute commitment to the dignity, value and right to life of every person, at every stage, and in every condition of life”.


Bishops condemn two-child benefit cap as ‘morally abhorrent’ (By Sarah Mac Donald, The Tablet)