The new auxiliary bishop of Armagh has warned that a hard border in Ireland after Brexit would be “a very regressive step”.

Driving the news

Michael Router, parish priest of Killann, was ordained auxiliary bishop of Armagh on Sunday. The diocese of Armagh covers territory in both the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland, and is home to a quarter of a million Catholics.

Router spoke to The Tablet after his ordination and said people in Northern Ireland “don’t want a hard border”.

“People are very worried that we will have some form of checkpoints or customs on the border and it could lead to violence again. Anything that can be done to avoid that we will try to do”, Router said.

Go deeper

The new auxiliary bishop said he hoped that politicians would “work together and work out a solution that is for the good of all the people on the island, both communities in Northern Ireland and people in the South”.

Router warned that a Brexit deal without the Irish backstop would jeopardise the advances made in the Northern Ireland peace process in recent years.

For the record

Addressing the faithful in Armagh’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Router admitted that “the Irish Church’s mistakes and failures have caused deep hurt and pain to many people”.

He added that the “dethroning” of the Church in the modern world and its separation from the “dominant institutions of societies where it long held political and social power” would help the Church to find “a new and creative voice”.

What’s next

In his maiden speech to Parliament Thursday new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised to “turbo-charge” preparations for a no-deal Brexit by October 31.

He warned that “if an agreement [with the EU]is to be reached it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the [Irish] backstop”.

Chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier called Johnson’s threat “unacceptable” and reminded that new PM that the abolition of the backstop is “not within the mandate of the European Council”.


Bishops worry over “racism, xenophobia and religious intolerance” in Ireland