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Simon Coveney: Lyra McKee's death inspired Northern talks, now politicians should take charge

The new deal is a balanced approach that can get the parliament up and running, the Tánaiste writes.

Simon Coveney Tánaiste

“THERE IS NEVER the perfect time to do the right thing in Northern Ireland.”

I used those words to open an editorial in a Northern Irish newspaper nine months ago as the Irish and British governments gathered at Stormont House in the wake of the horrific murder of Lyra McKee.

We all came up that iconic hill with the words of Father Martin Magill, speaking at Lyra’s funeral, in our ears: “Why in God’s name does it take the death of the 29-year-old woman, with her whole life in front of her, to get to this point?”

Sitting in St Anne’s Cathedral as that wave of applause hit the most senior politicians from the UK and Ireland is a moment I will never forget.

It has inspired and driven me in the months that have passed since. So too have Northern Ireland’s political leaders, who came together and showed leadership and commitment in Derry in the immediate wake of Lyra’s murder.

So what have we all been doing for hundreds of hours in Stormont over the last nine months? Well, we had the odd argument.

But more importantly, we have worked tirelessly through some extremely complex issues to get to the point where both governments are confident that what we published yesterday represents a fair deal to re-establish the executive and assembly in Northern Ireland.

It’s a deal that is unquestionably in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.

I want to note the words Lyra McKee wrote in the book she never lived to see published.

She said: “Northern Ireland is a beautiful tragedy, strangled by the chains of its past. It’s a place full of darkness and mysteries. It’s also my home. Sometimes I love it and hate it in equal measure. Yet, despite being a tiny country, we disproportionately contribute talent to the rest of the world.”

She’s right. The people of Northern Ireland punch way above their weight in many fields. It’s time their politicians fully represented them.

New Decade, New Approach is a balanced deal that can see the parliament building at Stormont fully up and running after three years.

It can see the elected representatives of the people of Northern Ireland take their seats and act in the interests of the people who elected them.

Northern Ireland is facing real challenges, but also exciting opportunities in 2020. What better way to kick off the new year than by closing the chapter on Stormont’s collapse?

That would respond to the clear demand of the people of Northern Ireland to re-establish the Assembly and the Executive.

By working in the interests of all the people of this island through the North-South Ministerial Council, we would see the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement restored.

I’ll finish where I started: there is never the perfect time to do the right thing in Northern Ireland. But there is the right time. That is now.

I call on all political leaders in Northern Ireland to get back to work.

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About the author:

Simon Coveney  / Tánaiste

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