Ireland's Catholic bishops have urged citizens, North and South, to vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

They say that exercising the European franchise has rarely been more important here given the potentially profound and far-reaching implications of Brexit for all on this island.

In a statement, the bishops urge electors to act in an informed and conscientious way with a particular concern for the common good rather than for local or national interests only.

They caution that when voters look honestly and critically at where the European Union  and its Member States have fallen short in realising its fundamental values, they should not forget to appreciate the European project's historic and significant achievements.

"Let us recognise the good it has delivered in promoting solidarity between European peoples and nations.  Let us recognise its contribution to developing our economies and regions. Let us also acknowledge its greatest achievement, that of maintaining peace in Europe," the statement continues.

The bishops say it is universally acknowledged that the EU faces profound challenges but warn that disengagement is not the answer and that participating in the elections "is more important than ever".

Voting ensures "that we have our say in the future shape and direction of the parliament for the next five years," they say.

"At this crucial juncture in the history of Europe, we need a European Parliament that will protect and uphold the values on which the EU is built.

The Treaty of the European Union outlines that the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities," the bishops said.

They urged Irish voters to remember that the European Union, in its foundation, was rooted in Christian principles of social justice, including the common good, solidarity and subsidiarity - the latter term meaning that all decisions should be taken at the appropriate level in the pyramid of power be it local, regional, national or multi-national.

The bishops conclude by saying that the European project, its institutions and its political method, are key to promoting and consolidating a lasting peace.