Church of Ireland Primate Archbishop Richard Clarke has warned that populism is imperiling the very roots of democracy and highlighted the dangers of populism abroad and in Ireland.

He told his church's General Synod that church members should be very aware of the massive dangers that a political vacuum inevitably poses to the wellbeing of this island and particularly of its most vulnerable residents.

He recalled the 1930s when what he described as "self-appointed messiahs sprang up" and society paid the price for them being given absolute and unaccountable power over the lives of their people.

The Archbishop warned that wherever we may live on this island, we need to be conscious of how we all can too easily be carried along mindlessly on a wave of popular and populist emotion, where mantras and knee-jerk sound-bites are replacing reasoned, respectful and nuanced discussion.

He commended the people of Derry for demonstrating "that there is a wholesome way forward following decades of division and violence" and said he hoped this will continue.  

He also warned that the ongoing fourth industrial revolution raises questions around the value of human beings as more automation takes place in society and the economy.