Monday 26 August 2019

Editorial: 'Leaders must lead - it's time to reach out for progress'

Fr Martin Magill made a powerful call to politicians at the funeral of murder victim Lyra McKee,
Fr Martin Magill made a powerful call to politicians at the funeral of murder victim Lyra McKee,


They say no country is as unhappy as the one which needs heroes. And, just like the buses, you spend an age waiting then two come along at the same time.

It took the death of Lyra McKee for many to realise what a beacon she was, and the words of Fr Martin Magill to shame political leaders into doing what they are morally obliged to do. Restoration of power- sharing in the North was never optional. Democrats have an obligation to serve the people who voted for them.

There are plenty on hand to subvert the democratic process if given the chance, as we have seen so tragically. It is a disgrace the people of the North have been deprived of government for more than two years.

Ms McKee's death and Fr Magill's homily have embarrassed bitter opponents into doing precisely what they ought to have been compelled to do as a matter of conscience and professional integrity. But obduracy, opportunism or pure bloody-mindedness has prevailed to date.

An intervention was needed. That the catalyst was Ms McKee's murder puts a massive onus on all concerned to meet their responsibilities instead of running from them.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Irish and British governments pledged to restore momentum for political progress. It further promised "actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership".

Almost immediately it was being argued the three weeks given for the duration of talks would be insufficient. Hearts and minds can change in seconds if there is a will to do so.

But if each side is determined to remain in their hermetically sealed caves, all the time in the world will make no difference. Those who would present themselves as leaders must now bring meaning to their roles.

There was black irony in the fact language was the reason talks broke down in the beginning. If people are interested in a relationship they will find a way to make it work.

Some may wonder whoever signed off the statement with the words: "We will review progress at the end of May," having a laugh at the expense of the British prime minister, given her precarious situation.

Intransigence and a refusal to see the full picture has prolonged political paralysis.

Nelson Mandela spent decades breaking rocks and still found it in his heart to extend a hand to his enemy.

Politicians spoke of difficulties, Fr Magill spoke of doorways. And the world is mostly changed by people who aren't ready. Heroes are more defined by the paths they have chosen than by any awesome powers, as Ms McKee's short life demonstrated.

After so much inaction, a gesture of reaching out should not be too taxing.

Irish Independent

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