Much work is required in exploring and building a unity of hearts and minds towards a shared vision for the future on the island of Ireland, according to the Catholic Primate of All Ireland.

In his New Year's message, the Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said the importance of intergenerational partnership and dialogue on the island "came home" to him last October, when he joined with the other Church leaders to hold a Service of Reflection and Hope to mark the centenary of 1921.

The event made headlines in September when President Michael D Higgins declined an invitation to attend the church service to mark Northern Ireland's centenary.

The service organised by the leaders of the main Christian churches titled 'Marking the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the foundation of Northern Ireland', was held in Armagh at the end of October.

President Higgins declined the invitation because he said the title was not "a neutral statement politically".

Britain's Queen Elizabeth also declined an invitation on health grounds.

In his New Year's message, Archbishop Martin noted that during the service, he expressed "a personal sense of sadness and loss" at the partition of Ireland and, with his fellow religious leaders, acknowledged that perhaps the Churches could have done more to deepen their understanding of each other, to bring healing and peace to their "divided and wounded communities".

He said the involvement of so many young people in the Armagh service brought hope that they could be the ones to help to build the bridges necessary to overcome the mistrust and divisions of the past.

"As we begin a new year, conversations are already taking place about what constitutional change and greater sharing on this island might look like. Intergenerational dialogue has much to offer these conversations - balancing reflection on the past with hope for the future," he said.

He added that no line could easily be drawn on the past and much work needed to be done in exploring and building "a unity of hearts and minds towards a shared vision for our future in this island".

He also used his New Year’s message to commend and encourage young people in their efforts around the global climate crisis and in seeking a more just world.

"A fitting New Year’s resolution for all of us in Church and in society, might be to invest more of our time and resources, listening, dialogue and prayer in our young people who are already making it clear that they see themselves not simply as our future, but also as essential and creative contributors to our present," he said.