Lyra killers cowards acting out cartoon vision of republicanism, Micheál Martin tells Easter 1916 commemoration
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin TD used his address at the party's Easter 1916 commemoration in Arbour Hill on Sunday to brand the killers of Lyra McKee as 'fundamentalists' and 'cowards' who are acting out a 'cartoon vision of republicanism'.
Speaking over the graves of James Connolly, Pádraig Pearse, Tom Clarke and 11 other leaders of the Easter Rising in Stoneybatter in Dublin, Mr. Martin said: "Let’s be very clear that the murder of Lyra McKee is the responsibility of those involved alone.
"It is the sick and inevitable outcome of fundamentalists who no matter how often they wave the tricolour have nothing but contempt for the Irish people and for the democratic republicanism which is this island’s strongest tradition.
"These people are cowards who hide behind masks and act out a cartoon vision of republican activism. And yet they cause great harm. They intimidate people going about their daily lives.
"They murder the legitimate forces of law and order. They attack democratic institutions. They brutalise and maim young people. And as we saw so tragically on the streets of Derry on the eve of Good Friday 2019, to them a journalist serving the public interest is simply collateral damage.
"We have to be resolute in fighting these groups. We must challenge them at every opportunity and hold them to account for their behaviour."
While Mr. Martin said the responsibility for the murder of the 29-year-old Belfast writer in Creggan on April 18 lay with those who had ordered the discharge of gunfire, he acknowledged that a dangerous political vacuum exists in the North that needs to be addressed.
He said: "We also have to challenge the sense of disillusionment with politics which is no excuse for violence but is destructive and divisive.
"For the last seven years Fianna Fáil has been pointing to the worsening political situation in Northern Ireland. At these commemorations and nearly every week in Dáil Éireann we have expressed our concern about a cycle of inaction, dispute and complacency which was steadily becoming worse.
"Well before the collapse of the political institutions we argued that something needed to be done to break the dominance of partisan control – something which was allowed to flourish once the governments stepped-back from active engagement.
"Today, 21 years after the crowning achievement of democratic politics on this island, two of the three strands of the Good Friday Agreement are suspended in full and the third is a pale shadow of its former self."
Mr. Martin said Brexit and the collapse of the power-sharing institutions two-and-a-half-years ago had created a democratic deficit in the North.
"We are absolutely right to demand that the British parliament not fatally undermine the Agreement, but let’s not fool ourselves about the damage done to the Agreement well before Brexit.
"Over two years ago the democratic institutions of Northern Ireland were pulled-down over a heating scheme. No matter how much people try to claim otherwise, they weren’t pulled down on high principle or to improve democratic legitimacy, they were pulled down to score political points.
"This comes from a mentality which says that the existence of parliament or government is negotiable. What they don’t seem to understand is that for democrats, a parliament is a place you go to solve problems – not a place you refuse to go unless your problems are sorted in advance," he said.