Belfast Telegraph

Politicians must step up to mark, says Lyra funeral priest

Father Martin Magill
Father Martin Magill
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The priest who delivered a powerful homily during the funeral of Lyra McKee said it was an invitation for politicians to work together to tackle the origins of violence among young people.

Father Martin Magill, who helped officiate at the service, also said the time had come for party leaders to resolve their differences and restore the power-sharing Executive at Stormont.

Ms McKee was shot dead by the New IRA last Thursday night.

Thousands of mourners lined the streets of Belfast to pay their respects at Wednesday's funeral.

Fr Magill (right) prompted spontaneous applause and a standing ovation when he asked the congregation why "in the name of God" did it take the death of a 29-year-old woman to bring them all together under one roof?

He told RTE's Morning Ireland programme that she "never gave up" in her work and advised others to learn from her doggedness to resolve matters.

Fr Magill, the parish priest of St John's in west Belfast, said that although he understands that politics is difficult, he was inspired by the women and individuals of Derry to speak out about the political impasse in Northern Ireland.

Pointing to the situation in the Creggan area, where Ms McKee lost her life, he said he was very concerned about the number of young people who are becoming involved in violence after the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement.

Fr Magill also said he hopes that deprived areas will really feel the benefits of the peace process.

The priest said he wasn't looking for a blame game in his impassioned plea to politicians.

He added that although he noticed an uncomfortable reaction from some of the congregation to his words, he said he wasn't expecting the reaction.

He said he would really like to see all the political parties get back together again to resolve issues and bring about a new Stormont Assembly.

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