Belfast Telegraph

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister recalls how Lyra McKee murder sparked talks

Simon Coveney spoke with Ms McKee’s sister on Friday as powersharing was confirmed.

Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney (left) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith (Niall Carson/PA)
Irish Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney (left) and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Julian Smith (Niall Carson/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

Murdered journalist Lyra McKee was recalled as a deal to restore devolved government to Northern Ireland was sealed.

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney paid tribute to the murdered journalist as he revealed he had spoken to her sister about the historic return of devolution.

On Thursday night, Mr Coveney had read a quote from Ms McKee’s book, which was published after her death, as he and Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith unveiled the draft accord.

After the confirmation that a new executive would be formed, the Tanaiste said: “I spoke to Lyra’s sister this morning, who I think was really relieved and excited about the prospect of a functioning Stormont again.”

The Belfast woman was shot dead by dissident republicans as she observed a riot in Londonderry last April.

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Lyra McKee

Her funeral heard what many regarded as a public rebuke to politicians by the presiding priest at her funeral, Fr Martin Magill, who asked why it had taken such a tragedy for them to come together in united purpose.

The cleric’s words were met with a standing ovation by the congregation.

Fresh talks were called in the aftermath, which were to go on to last over nine months until this week.

On Thursday night, Mr Coveney said he took the words of Fr Magill as a cue to work towards finding a solution to the impasse which has left Northern Ireland without devolved government for three years.

The people of Northern Ireland punch way above their weight in so many fields Simon Coveney

“I think it’s also very important to remember the awful murder of Lyra McKee that brought us back to these talks nine months ago,” he said.

“The Irish and British governments and all the party leaders were left in no doubt by the wave of applause and the very public demand in St Anne’s Cathedral that we had been called out to get politics in Northern Ireland working again.”

Mr Coveney noted that Ms McKee had written about Northern Ireland being a country that disproportionately contributed talent to the rest of the world, and went on to quote a passage from her book.

“And she’s right,” he added. “The people of Northern Ireland punch way above their weight in so many fields. It’s now time their politicians stepped up and fully represented their constituents.”

PA

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