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Standing ovation breaks out at Lyra McKee's funeral when priest challenges politicians about Northern Ireland stalemate.
Standing ovation breaks out at Lyra McKee's funeral when priest challenges politicians about Northern Ireland stalemate.
Image: Sky News/Screengrab

'Why in God's name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman to get to this point?' - priest challenges politicians on NI stalemate

It’s been over two years since the Northern Ireland institutions collapsed. With no functioning government,
Apr 24th 2019, 6:51 PM 30,521 26

Updated Apr 24th 2019, 7:52 PM

A STANDING OVATION and a loud applause erupted at Lyra McKee’s funeral today when the priest openly challenged politicians at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald were all in attendance this afternoon. 

Fr Martin Magill initially commended political leaders for gathering together in Creggan on Good Friday, but then asked: “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?”

Those attending the funeral today stood and applauded his words. Seeing people stand around them, politicians in the pews then also stood and applauded. 

Since the death of Lyra, who was shot in Derry last Thursday, pressure has been mounting on political parties to restore power-sharing at Stormont. 

It’s been over two years since the Northern Ireland institutions collapsed. With no functioning government, the North is effectively being run by unelected civil servants who are operating with limited resources.

Since the tragic death of Lyra, critics have called on politicians to get back around the table for talks. 

Responding to comments made by Fr Magill today, McDonald said she agreed with him, adding that the murder of Lyra “is outrageous”. 

In a clear concise way he has said what I have heard all over Ireland, people want the Executive and the Assembly up and running, people want equality and they want good government they can have confidence in. 
Political leaders should be working together.

She added that Sinn Féin wants to see the full restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and “wants to be in government making decisions on issues which impact on the lives of local people”.

“We have told the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach that the current situation of stalemate of no Executive or Assembly is untenable and cannot continue.

“Sinn Féin is ready to play our full part in a serious and meaningful talks process which removes obstacles to power-sharing, delivers rights, and restores the Assembly,” she said in a statement. 

McDonald called on the UK and Irish governments to meet “with urgency” through the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference, in order “to provide solutions to the outstanding rights issues, which are at the heart of sustainable power sharing”.

Arlene Foster also issued a statement this evening following talks with Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Tánaiste Simon Coveney. 

“For our part I want to ensure we can get down to business,” she said.

“We all need to come to the table in a spirit of wanting to restore the Assembly and dealing with the issues which matter most to people.”

Bradley has said she intends to hold discussions with Stormont’s party leaders this week in a bid to restore power-sharing.

Yesterday, Coveney met Northern Ireland political parties to discuss the current political situation.

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Christina Finn

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