25/04/2019

Call For Return To Govt At Lyra McKee Funeral

A priest has made an impassioned plea to the political leaders of Northern Ireland, asking why it took the death of 29-year-old Lyra McKee to bring the parties together.

Politicians from the region's main parties along with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Secretary of State Karen Bradley attended the funeral at St Anne's Cathedral yesterday, Wednesday 24 April.

Ms McKee, a journalist originally from north Belfast, was shot dead in the Creggan area of L'Derry while observing dissident republican rioting last Thursday, 18 April.

Several politicians, including the SDLP's Colum Eastwood, have called for all-party discussions aimed at restoring power sharing. It comes after party leaders attended a vigil in L'Derry following the death on Good Friday.

Speaking at the funeral, Fr Martin Magill said: "I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday. I am however left with a question: 'Why in God's name does it take the death of a 29 year old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?'"

His comments were followed by a standing ovation throughout the cathedral, videos of which have since swept social media.

Following the service, leader of the Alliance Party Naomi Long, who was in attendance, said his question "spoke truth to power".
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The east Belfast MLA added: "Asked myself the same thing all weekend. We just have to do better."

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionist Party leader Robin Swann has said there is "no excuses" for parties who are refusing to engage in meaningful talks, and called on the Secretary of State to call out those not engaging in a process to restore devolution.

"Sinn Fein and the DUP may have been listening to Father Magill but they have failed to hear what he said. It was heart wrenching that within a few hours of Father Magill injecting some realism into the political discourse at the funeral of Lyra McKee, the same old rhetoric was played out within hours in the media. It was as if they hadn't heard a single word he said. I hope it was a knee-jerk reaction to the uncomfortable truth."

The north Antrim MLA continued: "This is an abdication of political responsibility. It is clear that some are still intent on making excuses for not engaging in meaningful talks. For too long they have been allowed to hide behind soundbites and slogans. The Secretary of State needs to call them out and set the direction for talks or else society should move on without them. They should not be allowed to hold the rest of us back. There should not be preconditions to talks.

"Now is the time for some straight talking. Otherwise we will be failing another generation. Lyra McKee's death should be the last at the hands of terrorists."



(JG/MH)

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