Video: Contempt for politicians palpable at Lyra's funeral but Derry's example of unity provides a way forward, MPs told

The shadow secretary for the North, Tony Lloyd, has acknowledged feeling the contempt and anger of the grieving loved ones of Lyra McKee when attending her funeral in Belfast last week.

Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 1:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th April 2019, 1:58 pm
Lyra McKee.

However, Secretary of State, Karen Bradley, said the political unity displayed in Derry in the wake of her murder two weeks ago showed there was hope for the revived political process in the North, which was announced in conjunction with the Tánaiste Simon Coveney on Friday.

Mrs. Bradley said Father Martin Magill's homily last Wednesday, during which he 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 us to this point?", had been a wake-up call.

"All of us heard a clear message that day, from inside the cathedral, from the powerful testimony of Father Martin Magill, from the streets of Creggan and Londonderry, and from Northern Ireland’s political leaders: no more violence, no more division, and no more delay. Northern Ireland’s political leaders must come together now," she told MPs on Monday.

Lyra McKee.

The Secretary of State said the murder of Lyra McKee had been "an attack on all of us".

"Since that sickening attack in Derry, Northern Ireland’s political leaders have shown great leadership in standing up together to reject violence, but it is now time for us to go further.

"The best possible way of showing those who oppose peace and democracy is to show that their efforts are futile and for all the political institutions of the Belfast agreement to be fully restored and functioning, as was intended by those who reached that historic agreement 21 years ago," she said.

Mr. Lloyd welcomed Mrs. Bradley's comments and said faith needed to be restored in the political process.

He said: "Father Magill’s powerful words were heard around the world, but what perhaps people did not see, from those in the cathedral that day who loved Lyra, were some looks of anger - of contempt - as they looked across at the politicians on the pews where the Secretary of State and I sat.

"We need to think about that, because the tragedy of Lyra’s death has given a new impetus for the need for action. Let us not have a future in which people look back with that same anger and contempt because politics has once again failed. Let us build a future where the politics of division is replaced by the politics of unity of purpose, the politics of change and the politics of hope."

Responding, Mrs. Bradley said: "We want Northern Ireland to be in the news and celebrated for all the right reasons. I take him back to the comments of Councillor John Boyle, the mayor of Derry and Strabane, who knew Lyra personally - he was one of her tutors.

"He said that she had always wanted her name in lights, but not for this reason. I think we can all agree with that. He is right to say that the words we heard in the cathedral were echoed around the world, and that they showed a real common understanding of the outrage."

The Secretary of State went on to say that it had been an honour to be invited to attend a 'Unity of Purpose' group meeting in Derry on Friday to discuss a way forward for the city.

The meeting was attended by a broad cross-section of civic society, including politicians, community, statutory and business leaders, all committed to working for the future peace and prosperity of the city.

"It was an honour to be invited to the Unity of Purpose group...It was great to see politicians and members of civic society from all parts of the community in Londonderry sitting around a table and discussing what is right for the people of Derry/Londonderry....We can see from that group that it is entirely possible for politicians from opposing parties and from different parts of the community to work together, and that is what we need to see in Stormont," she said.