Editor's Viewpoint: Saoradh dissidents mock Lyra McKee's memory with odious parade
Who would believe that only hours after the murder of Lyra McKee in Londonderry, an event that dominated world headlines, Saoradh, the political wing of the New IRA, which shot dead the 29-year-old journalist and then condoned it, would be seen parading down the main thoroughfare of Ireland’s capital city to celebrate the Easter Rising.
It was a grotesque spectacle, hard-faced adults with the traditional strut and swagger, masquerading as soldiers, no doubt sewing the badges onto their tunics for the trip to Dublin even as the latest victim of violence here bled to death.
The Irish Independent newspaper has indicated that a Government minister in Dublin will call for new laws to prevent further such demonstrations, and rightly so. We want to see a similar law introduced in Northern Ireland.
In today’s Belfast Telegraph Martin Dillon has called for a “Lyra McKee Law”, which will penalise those who demonstrate, advocate or raise money for any organisation whose aim is to effect political change through the pursuit of violence. Dillon is an award-winning journalist whose work has taken a forensic look at terrorism. He has a strong point in claiming that such a legal step would be an important advance in removing the cult of the gunman from our discourse and our society at its most vulnerable.
Other worthwhile suggestions have been made by those who want to ensure that Lyra’s death should not be forgotten, and that it should stand for something. It is understandable and also right that people in the midst of their grief need to try to extrapolate some meaningful purpose from such a senseless murder. As we have noted many times before, the dissidents are composed of micro-terror groups. However, they also consist of diehard thugs, who in their misguided and vile way want to cause murder and mayhem.
The truth is they have nothing to offer all of us in Northern Ireland but further pain, heartache and tears.
Sadly, however, the persistent and inexcusable political drift in Northern Ireland makes a bad situation worse, and we need more than ever to revive and sustain devolved government at Stormont.
The call for renewed talks from SDLP leader Colum Eastwood is timely and should be heeded.
We simply cannot allow a continuing political vacuum to allow our long-standing divisions and acrimonies to deepen even further.
This is not a time for complacency and we need urgently to take all measures necessary to re-establish a meaningful political process, and to banish the men and women of violence permanently beyond the margins of our society.
The first step must be a fresh resolve in Belfast and Dublin to introduce legislation to ensure that we have no more sickening displays of the kind we witnessed by republican extremists in Dublin at the weekend.
Over the weekend we have shared in an outpouring of grief and anger at the murder of such a talented young woman. A young woman who was about the future and whose sadly short life stands in stark contrast to those who are only about the past.
It could be said that, ironically, the dissidents have finally achieved their aim of uniting all of the people on this island, but not in the way they intended. They have brought us together in a wave of utter revulsion against their violence and all they stand for.
In these dark days of sorrow, this at least is something we can all build on.