Tuesday 20 August 2019

Lyra McKee: Poignant words of priest at her funeral risk being 'put on the shelf', Dáil hears

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

THE poignant words of a priest at the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee risk being “put on the shelf”, the Dáil has heard.

With little progress in the talks to get the Northern Ireland executive back to work, Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary has questioned whether a July timeline can be lived up to.

Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)
Fianna Fail deputy leader Dara Calleary (Niall Carson/PA)

It is now almost two and a half years since the Assembly collapsed. And despite the threat of Brexit the two main parties – the DUP and Sinn Féin – have refused to work together.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Tánaiste  Simon Coveney are in Belfast today for the latest round-table meeting with the leadership teams of the five main parties in Stormont House.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar are due to discuss progress in the talks in the coming days and decide whether there is a basis upon which to resurrect the institutions.

The format of the latest bid to revive Stormont has seen serving and retired senior civil servants chair several working groups focusing on the main sticking points.

Mr Calleary said the words of Fr Martin McGill had “struck a chord for everybody on this island when he asked the political leaders to get their act together”.

At the funeral of journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead by the New IRA, the cleric asked: "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 to this point?”

A new mural of Lyra McKee in Belfast city centre. Photo: David Young/PA Wire
A new mural of Lyra McKee in Belfast city centre. Photo: David Young/PA Wire

More than a month has passed but there is still no breakthrough.

Fianna Fáil’s deputy leader Mr Calleary said: “People are fed up. They want to see progress. They want to see something happen from these talks.”

In response, Communications Minister Richard Bruton said the Government understand there is “a huge urgency”.

“Clearly it is our hope that those talks bear fruit. This has unfortunately exposed some of the old fault lines that politicians find so difficult to deal with,” he said referencing the political incapability of the DUP and Sinn Féin.

“The Tánaiste’s sense of urgency and his commitment to get this agreement is absolutely undoubted.

“He is seeking intensification of the discussions over the coming days.

“There is a shared sense of urgency. While sharing that sense of urgency we have to give the time and space to individual parties to work through this,” Mr Bruton said.

Mr Calleary said the fault lines “are weakening”.

He said voters want politicians “to take responsibility on a large number of issues”.

“Fault lines have to be challenged. Fault lines have to be dismantled.

“Are Fr McGill’s words going to be put on the shelf again?” he said.

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