Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Politicians must act, not utter platitudes

It will be interesting to see if such a call finds any traction when the local government election campaign gets under way or will it, like so often in the past, be trampled underfoot in the unchanging tribal politics?
It will be interesting to see if such a call finds any traction when the local government election campaign gets under way or will it, like so often in the past, be trampled underfoot in the unchanging tribal politics?

Editor's Viewpoint

Anthony McIntyre is a former IRA man who spent 18 years in prison for murder. For many people that is enough reason to ignore anything he might say, but they would be wrong. He has long accepted that the IRA's terrorist campaign during the Troubles was unwinnable and that Irish unity cannot be achieved at the point of a gun.

And in a telling comment in his article published in this newspaper today he says without equivocation that his IRA had no more right to shoot dead census taker Joanne Mathers all those years ago in Londonderry than the so-called New IRA had to shoot dead Lyra McKee in the same city last week.

He does not shirk from saying that the IRA since 1998 is more of a threat to the nationalist community than to its supposed targets of state forces. The insanity that led to a gunman firing shots - one of which killed Lyra - at police lines crowded with civilians shows the contempt this new republican entity has for human life.

But it is a contempt handed down from previous generations of republicans and as McIntyre says they cannot wash their hands like Pontius Pilate of any responsibility for Lyra's death even if it is only through bequeathment.

To see the political mouthpieces of dissident republicanism Saoradh march to Milltown Cemetery yesterday as if death is something to commemorate should stiffen the resolve of everyone to rid this province of the spectre of violence from whatever source it emanates.

But we should also hold our politicians to account for the current vacuum which has led to demoralisation and despair about the political process.

It is fine that all the political leaders made their way to Derry's Creggan estate last Friday to stand in solidarity and speak with one voice of their rejection of violence and in condemnation of those responsible for Lyra's death.

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But we have seen and heard it all before and then the hope of any glimmer of consensus melts away like snow on a warm spring day.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has urged all the political parties to come together - not just to utter platitudes, but to work towards restoring devolution.

It will be interesting to see if such a call finds any traction when the local government election campaign gets under way or will it, like so often in the past, be trampled underfoot in the unchanging tribal politics?

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