Canadian and US Archbishops have been asked to withdraw from the Anglican Church's decision making body for three years.

The decision was taken at a meeting of 38 primates of the Anglican Communion at the Dromantine Retreat and Conference Centre, near Newry in Co Down.

It was triggered by the election in the US of an openly gay bishop and the blessing of same sex relationships in Canada.

US and Canadian Anglicans have been asked to explain the decisions.

The decision means a formal split in the worldwide Anglican Church over the issue of homosexuality has become more likely.