Belfast Telegraph

Parties owe Lyra's family an apology for lack of talks progress, says SDLP leader

Frustrated: Colum Eastwood
Frustrated: Colum Eastwood

By Stall Reporter

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has said that Northern Ireland's parties owe the family of Lyra McKee an apology for the lack of progress in political talks.

The family of Ms McKee have written to Northern Ireland's MLAs, MPs and MEPs asking them to work for peace to ensure that her killing is the last by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland.

Mr Eastwood said that politicians had promised to do all they could to ensure Ms McKee's death was not in vain but had "failed".

The McKee family said the momentum to restore devolution in the wake of the journalist's murder in April had waned and political parties were "failing our people".

Ms McKee was shot dead by the New IRA during a riot in the Creggan area of Derry.

Foyle MLA Mr Eastwood said the SDLP wanted to work to secure a compromise to see the return of power-sharing at Stormont.

"At the beginning of the summer, political leaders stood united in Creggan and again inside St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. We used the familiar words of solidarity and sympathy as a young woman, with so much passion for this place and its people, was taken from our community," the SDLP leader said.

"We promised that we would do all we could to come together in Lyra's memory and protect other families from suffering the loss that the McKees have been forced to endure. By any measure, they have been failed.

"Progress has been made. But we have again reached a point where the process has been privatised to two parties and the rest of us have been told to wait for white smoke."

Mr Eastwood said Northern Ireland had reached a moment where politicians needed to make a decision on the future.

"Every day we spend in our trenches, refusing to co-operate and meet the needs of people and communities across this island, promotes the politics of division further. And it strengthens the position of those who are seeking to fight old wars," the Foyle MLA said.

"We are at a moment of choice. We can choose to occupy the space of brave accommodation or we can retreat to the narrow politics of blame, recrimination and stalemate."

Following Ms McKee's death, talks at Stormont were reconvened, led by Tanaiste Simon Coveney and then Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

After initially appearing to make progress talks then stalled again.

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