Calls For Fresh Govt Talks In Wake Of L'Derry Murder

Leaders of Northern Ireland's political parties have called for a fresh round of talks aimed at restoring devolved government following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in L'Derry.

The 29-year-old was shot dead during a night of rioting in the Creggan area of city. She was standing beside police when a new IRA gunman fired the fatal shots.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said he has written to party leaders and both the UK and Irish Governments in a bid to immediately convene talks. Addressing the political representatives, he said: "There is an unmistakeable public desire that the tragic and terrible loss of Lyra McKee marks a turning point for our peace and political process.

"On the streets of Creggan, in Derry and across Ireland a clear and resolute message has been sent to Lyra's killers and to all of those still wedded to the futility of violence. They are the enemies of all of us on this island and enemies of the shared future we have all chosen to build. 

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"There was however another equally strong message in the aftermath of last week's murder. It was a simple and direct message to all of us tasked with political leadership – resolve your differences, end the division and get back to work.  

"21 years after the Good Friday Agreement we have been far too casual with our peace and our politics. We have too easily forgotten that failure in our politics always results in danger in our streets. We have been far too ready to disagree with one another and not ready enough to value and build upon the peace we inherited.

"As political leaders, we are responsible for the context of political division which has let all of our people down. We can't allow it to go on."

The Foyle MLA proposed a round of urgent talks later this week.

Leader of the Ulster Unionists, Robin Swann MLA, has also written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking her to intervene. In a statement released on Monday, he said he was "fully supportive" of Mr Eastwood's call. "We can't allow either local government or European election campaigns to stall the process any further and any party who wishes to exclude themselves shouldn't be allowed to hold the rest of us back."

Alliance Leader Naomi Long also tweeted her support for the talks to reconvene and said she has written to the Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney to initiate the negotiation process.


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