Saturday 21 September 2019

Editorial: 'Lyra's 'spoils of peace' must now finally be delivered'

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to the Free Derry Corner. Photo: Joe Boland/PA Wire
A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to the Free Derry Corner. Photo: Joe Boland/PA Wire


There was a story about a child who asked his father: "How come we always play war, and not peace?"

The father was stumped for a bit before answering: "We just don't have enough role models."

Lyra McKee probably never set out to be anyone's role model.

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But her fate has made her one, and she has set the bar very high.

In the aftermath of her murder there has been a sense of helplessness and emptiness.

While understandable, this young woman's murder demands a more meaningful response than either.

The promise of her short, vivid life may have been lost: but as she is laid to rest today, politicians across the divide will come together.

And they must know they have an obligation to do better. Groups like the New IRA thrive when there is a void. A need or a gap they can exploit to reel in the vulnerable.

Yesterday, it finally summed up the courage to admit it was the group that murdered the campaigning journalist.

Dripping with cynicism, its statement offered: "full and sincere apologies" to her family and friends.

The fearsome fighting force previously distinguished itself with a wave of letter bombs - sickly adorned with love hearts and posted from a safe distance - each sealed with a passionate wish to maim and disfigure.

It also planted a car-bomb which narrowly avoided killing more innocent people.

Tragically Lyra walked into the group's indiscriminate sights.

With trademark effrontery and crass insensitivity the "warriors" have, according to their statement, now "instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this".

So that's alright so. The only cause these killers serve is a lost one. And the only future this island can ever have is an agreed one: built on respect for peace and protected by law and order.

There is something uniquely diabolical in the thought of old men dreaming up new wars for young people to die in.

As Lyra McKee expressed so powerfully, the "spoils of peace" have reached too few in the North.

Too many are outside their circle of comfort.

Politicians on all sides have been far too casual with the care they have taken regarding the legacy of the Good Friday Agreement.

There is a massive responsibility on those who take public office to lead by example.

The fact Stormont - "the seat of power" - lies idle is a disgrace when there is so much at stake.

Sinn Féin and the DUP, as the main parties, have failed to show true leadership at a time when instability can only serve the dark purposes of those who wish to divide.

The people of the North know the price of peace.

They will not lightly forgive those who either loosen their grip on it, or try to tear it away.

Irish Independent

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