The leaders of the main churches in Ireland have said building trust is important to help restore power-sharing at Stormont.

The religious leaders met Northern Secretary Karen Bradley at Stormont as she considers kick-starting fresh political talks to try and break an impasse created since the collapse of Stormont institutions early last year.

The religious figures representing the Catholic Church and denominations of Protestantism said their meeting had been positive and encouraging.

In a joint statement they said: "Our discussions today came on the back of our meeting with the political parties a week ago, where we discussed our concerns over the impact of the absence of devolved government in Northern Ireland and the importance of relationships and building trust.

"We also impressed upon the Secretary of State those same concerns, as we did last week with the party leaders, and reiterated our willingness and desire to assist and support where we could in the challenges that lie ahead. We also emphasised the imperative to find space for ongoing dialogue."

Endless rounds of negotiations have failed to engineer restoration of the institutions, with the two main parties - the DUP and Sinn Féin - fundamentally split over issues like Brexit.

Stormont has not sat since early last year after Sinn Féin left the institutions in protest at the DUP's handling of a botched green energy scheme and a dispute over an Irish language act.

Repeated rounds of negotiations have failed to bring about their resurrection.

Church leaders present were the Most Rev Dr Richard Clarke, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland; Rev William Davison, President of the Methodist Church in Ireland; The Most Rev Bishop Noel Treanor, Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor; and the Right Rev Dr Charles McMullen, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

Ms Bradley has promised to cut Stormont Assembly members' pay by more than £13,000 and clarify civil service powers, which have been severely curtailed in the absence of ministers.

Steps are expected to be taken this autumn to allow for policing-related appointments and a British government consultation on addressing the legacy of thousands of conflict deaths has just closed after receiving a massive response.

Ms Bradley said: "Since my statement in September, I've continued to engage with the political parties and the Irish Government, as appropriate, seeking their views on both the legislation I will shortly be taking forward and the means of restarting talks aimed at restoring devolution.

"Today is another important step in that process."

Sinn Féin is seeking guarantees around what it terms rights and equality issues such as the use of the Irish language and claims the DUP reneged on a draft agreement.

The DUP has accused its former coalition partners of damaging public services by walking away from devolved government.

It has urged greater involvement of direct rule ministers from London as the hiatus stretches on.