Thursday 19 September 2019

Functioning politics the 'only response' to warped dissident thinking - Coveney

DUP leader Arlene Foster with Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, before the funeral of Lyra McKee. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster with Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, before the funeral of Lyra McKee. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ralph Riegel

TANAISTE Simon Coveney warned that the only response to "warped dissident and paramilitary thinking" in Northern Ireland following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee (29) is to restore normal government in Belfast.

Mr Coveney said he was hopeful in advance of a meeting today in Belfast with Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley that the Derry murder of Ms McKee may prove one of the catalysts to restoring the Stormont executive and prompting compromise and generosity between the various parties in Northern Ireland.

Politicians and Church leaders said that would be a fitting legacy to the investigative journalist.

Speculation has mounted that both the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein are now willing to compromise to restore the Stormont executive - with some claiming such resumption talks could begin as soon as late May.

"We have always said that the way to respond to that kind of warped thinking that comes from dissidents and from paramilitaries is functioning politics," Mr Coveney said.

"Those of us who are committed to that have an obligation to make it work."

"That is not easy - it is not easy for political parties in Northern Ireland to do that. Politics in Northern Ireland is challenging, we know that."

"It can be very polarised, very partisan and very crude at times."

"To come together, to find compromise, to find middle ground positions, to be generous towards competitors isn't easy."

Mr Coveney warned against blaming the killing of Ms McKee entirely on the failure to restore the Northern Ireland executive.

"I don't think it is correct to make a direct link between a killing which should not have happened and happened because of totally irresponsible rioting on the streets of Derry."

"It was a tragedy."

"Somebody who was an amazing person has been taken from their family and from many others who she influenced."

"(It was) because of dissident Republican activity and reckless behaviour that not only fatally endangered her but also endangered many other people including the PSNI."

But he acknowledged that the onus was on the two Governments and Northern Ireland parties to restore proper government to give paramilitaries the best possible answer.

"We have seen the consequences over the past two years of the lack of political leadership in Northern Ireland in a structure and functioning executive and functioning Stormont."

"This is what we need. The tragedy of the last week will be, I hope, part of the catalyst needed to allow for a new beginning for politics in Northern Ireland."

"But it is up to the Governments to work with the parties to make sure we can put a structure in place that can facilitate that."

"I am going to Belfast (today) and will be meeting Secretary of State Karen Bradley and hopefully we will have more to say after that."

"The governments and all political parties in Northern Ireland are aware that it needs its own Government. We need politics to work in Northern Ireland. We know what happens when politics doesn't work in Northern Ireland and we have seen a tragic example of that in the last week."

"The Secretary of State and I, as well as both governments, are aware of our responsibilities. We are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement."

"I think it is too early to speculate (on compromises). But I think both governments, in particular, know that we have a responsibility to work together and to give both leadership and structure to help the parties to find a way of re-establishing a functioning Stormont and a functioning executive."

Online Editors

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