Monday 19 August 2019

'Parties now need to show determination in negotiations,' says priest

DUP leader Arlene Foster with Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill before the funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Photo: PA
DUP leader Arlene Foster with Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill before the funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Photo: PA
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

The priest who challenged politicians with his powerful words at the funeral of Lyra McKee has said he wants to hear about "more than just the difficulties" in the upcoming talks in the North.

Fr Martin Magill said politicians need to show "determination" and the kind of "doggedness" Ms McKee demonstrated during her journalism career, in the negotiations to restore Northern Ireland's political institutions.

His remarks came after he told how he had spoken to both Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and the DUP's Arlene Foster after the funeral.

He said that while he had "pleasant" conversations with the two leaders, both of them told him of the "difficulties" they saw ahead.

Fr Magill said: "I need to hear more than just the difficulties. I need to hear determination.

"We know there are problems... But we've got to work through those," he said.

Fr Magill's eulogy at the funeral of Ms McKee - who was gunned down by the New IRA earlier this month - made headlines around the world.

He asked: "Why in God's name does it take the death of the 29-year old woman, with her whole life in front of her, to get to this point?"

It resulted in a standing ovation among the congregation with the politicians joining in when they realised those behind them had taken to their feet.

Fr Magill told the BBC: "The people, in a sense, really put the pressure on in the cathedral to stand. Obviously the politicians realised; 'Oh goodness, everybody behind us is standing, we need to move' and they literally moved because people had moved."

He said he believed it was a metaphor for the talks announced by the British and Irish governments last week.

Separately, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin branded those responsible for Ms McKee's murder as "cowards" with a "cartoon vision" of republican activism.

He said despite this they "cause great harm", intimidating people going about their daily lives.

"We have to be resolute in fighting these groups," Mr Martin said.

Irish Independent

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