LEADERS of the Catholic, Presbyterian, Anglican and Methodist churches in Ireland have held talks with Stormont parties in the latest attempt to break the political deadlock.
British and Irish Ministers including Secretary of State Karen Bradley also attended the meeting on Tuesday.
The delegation of church leaders told the Stormont parties it was time to demonstrate courageous political leadership.
Archbishop Richard Clarke said: "One of the messages we tried to send today is that in a vacuum, other forces will move into that vacuum and take control of it.
"And for that reason, there is this absolutely huge need to ensure that somehow, normal political life starts again."
Archbishop Eamon Martin added, “If we don’t sit around the table and talk, then what else?”
Following the meeting, Sinn Féin leader in the north Michelle O’Neill said: “All of society has a stake in this process so we very much welcome the start of a broad engagement with wider society beginning with the church leaders that were at Stormont today and we thank them for their contribution.
“We want to meet with a wide range of civic society, all the churches, the trade unions, business organisations, womens groups, language groups, the community and voluntary sector and everyone out there because this process and these institutions belong to us all.
“These talks have the potential to restore the power-sharing institutions and that is the best way to ensure that the next generation benefits from the full potential of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.
“We all know what the outstanding issues are. We believe they can and must be resolved so Sinn Féin will continue to engage in these talks with positivity and a determination to do the business.
“None of the issues are insurmountable or unresolvable. Agreement can be reached and the institutions restored with the positive political will and support of all parties and both governments.
“The way forward is through implementation of agreements already made, safeguarding rights enjoyed by citizens in the rest of Ireland and in Britain, and delivering good governance.”
DUP leader Arlene Foster added, “Getting the Assembly back up and running immediately would be a courageous thing to do, a compassionate thing to do and the right thing to do.”