Sunday 26 May 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'Priest's plea falls on deaf ears as leaders refuse to 'capitulate''

  

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald arrives for the funeral service of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald arrives for the funeral service of murdered journalist Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Talk is cheap. Compromise has a cost. That seems to be the attitude of the two women who are now making political hostages out of the people of Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald both went out to discredit each other yesterday - but instead they disgraced themselves.

It was as though the words of Fr Martin Magill that flowed over the coffin of Lyra McKee had fallen on deaf ears.

Everybody else in the packed St Anne's Cathedral heard them. They leapt to their feet in support of the cleric's sensible suggestion that now was the moment for a new beginning.

And yet Ms Foster and Ms McDonald woke up to a world where nothing had changed.

About the only thing the leaders of the DUP and Sinn Féin could agree on was that they wouldn't even pretend to be in a position to re-establish normal business.

In any event, for them chaos and dysfunction is normal. The situation has been allowed to fester by the British and Irish governments for too long. A soul-destroying rot has set in. It's 829 days since the Assembly collapsed, and still neither side is willing to budge an inch.

But Fr Magill's plea gave us hope that maybe they would put the people first.

"As I listen to the radio every morning, all I seem to hear about various initiatives in Northern Ireland are these words, 'without a minister, this can't be taken forward'.

"I pray that Lyra's murder may be the catalyst needed for parties to start talking, to reform that which was corrosive in previous assemblies and to begin anew," he said.

If the Belfast cleric was listening to the radio yesterday morning, his heart would have sunk.

On the BBC, Ms Foster acknowledged the "huge frustration" at the political impasse.

She called for talks on restoring the devolved institutions to begin as soon as possible. So far so good.

What was she going to do about it? Nothing.

Her offer was the same as it was more than 18 months ago when the two parties almost reached a deal.

Ms Foster talked in football terms, claiming Sinn Féin wanted "a 5-0 victory".

Things were even worse over on RTÉ where Miriam O'Callaghan was tearing Ms McDonald apart.

The presenter asked what compromise Sinn Féin would offer to honour the words of Fr Magill.

Ms McDonald would absolutely not "capitulate on behalf of people in the North to people who wish to hold back progress in every form".

"We will not capitulate," she repeated while lecturing the presenter on how to interpret the priest's words.

When will they be mature enough to realise that compromising and capitulating are not the same thing?

Irish Independent

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