‘Why are people being drawn into violence?’ - Archbishop

Archbishop Eamon Martin has questioned what has happened to society that has led to young people being so easily drawn into violence, following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Monday, 29th April 2019, 9:07 am
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 10:13 am
Archbishop Eamon Martin and Fr Michael Canny attending the vigil for Lyra McKee. DER1719GS-031

Archbishop Eamon Martin has questioned what has happened to society that has led to young people being so easily drawn into violence, following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

The Derry native made the comments after he joined hundreds of other local people who gathered in silence at Guildhall Square on Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects as Lyra’s funeral got under way in Belfast.

In a message for those involved in dissident violence, the Primate of All Ireland said: “We don’t want this, we don’t want to be going back to these ways. For me it’s really sad that young people who have never experienced the horrors of violence as we did growing up, might blindly walk into this again. I also think, what is it that we haven’t given hope to people; we haven’t given them meaning in their lives and livelihoods and oppportunities. Why is it that people get drawn so easily into violence?

Archbishop Eamon Martin and Fr Michael Canny attending the vigil for Lyra McKee. DER1719GS-031

“These are big questions for all of us in society to ask and I am very grateful to the media in recent days, as Lyra did, asking the difficult questions.”

Archbishop Martin said he wanted to be in Derry with local people “because there has been this real fervent cry from the heart of Derry: Not in our name, give peace a chance and let’s get back to working for peace.

“This real pointless and outrageous death of this young woman, a young journalist going about her business has just made all of us stop in our tracks and say, ‘listen we could easily lapse back into the horrific times that we had in the past’,” he said.

“The people of Derry have known too much sadness, too much sorrow, too much trauma and, therefore, instinctively they have reacted. To see those images going around the world of burning vehicles, fire, violence and rioting, when I think we have also had a very positive message coming from this city in recent days to say: Not In Our Name, give peace a chance, let’s get back to working towards a lasting peace and reconciliation.”

Speaking on the continued political vacuum at Stormont, he said: “It’s over two years since we have had any kind of meaningful assembly or government really in this part of the world and if you create a gap like that inevitably people are going to move in and fill it with their own hatred their own violence.

“I think this does send a message to our political leaders. Sometimes we hear people saying: after the council elections we will sit down, or after Brexit they will sit down, but I think the people of Derry and across this island are saying, ‘Listen, you have our support to sit down now. If that is an outcome of Lyra’s death then maybe something good can come of this awful situation.

“We do need leadership now, we do need compromise and I say that gently, not in any critical way, because I understand it is not easy to bring people along, but sometimes being the leader means you have to go out in front and lead and bring people with you and I think what has happened here in this city and elsewhere over the last few days is that people have said: If you take steps, heroic steps, then we will be with you.”