Wednesday 22 May 2019

Editorial: 'Lyra's legacy must be the spoils of peace she sought'

We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past. Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past. Photo: Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Editorial

Editorial

Bullets have to "stop" somewhere, explained the PSNI's Mark Hamilton, pondering on how a gunman could randomly open fire in a crowded suburban street. The tragedy was that when they "stopped" so too did the rich life of gifted journalist Lyra McKee.

Her murderer took time to pick up the two spent shells but none at all to think of the young life also spent. The murder occurred on the eve of Good Friday - 21 years after the eponymous deal we had hoped had caged the savagery of the past. A savagery dissidents are desperate to unleash onto the streets once more. Only weeks back, the 'New IRA' almost killed several innocent people exploding a car bomb in a crowded area of Derry.

The contrast between Lyra and these murderers could not be more pronounced.

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She was a campaigner who used empathy and compassion to change the world. She wrote: "We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace. The spoils just never seemed to reach us."

The context for her comment was the terrible toll the Troubles had taken on so many young people in the North who ended their lives in suicide. The unifying causes Ms McKee embraced were the very antithesis of the divisive hatred the terrorists seek to sow.

She was not "destined to witness the horrors of war" but their darkness touched her nonetheless. But as Assistant Chief Constable Hamilton pointed out yesterday in the aftermath of her murder: "There is more peace in this city than violence." The war is over.

Ms McKee's murder has rightly sparked a wave of revulsion. But it is to be hoped it will also spark a new resolution to end the political vacuum in the North which plays into the hands of subversives. We know too bitterly where these desperate and dark cul-de-sacs of hatred end. Nobel Prize winner, Derryman and architect of the Good Friday Agreement John Hume famously said: "When people are divided the only solution is agreement."

Northern Ireland's politicians must show some leadership. The lack of direction and drift in the North is making it all the easier for terrorists to split communities.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past."

The principle of consent was the game-changer in establishing peace. Visiting the North yesterday, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi said: "You not only had a moment of silence, you presented a sense of resolve that justice would be done and the memory of that young woman would be a lesson for all of us. Our work is about the future." We owe it to Lyra McKee to make it a better one.

Irish Independent

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