Heartless act highlights fragility of peace process

The 18th of April was another day in Northern Ireland’s long history of shocking tragedies. The brutal killing and death of Lyra McKee in Derry sent shock waves through the whole country and was a deep reminder, as if we still need it, as to the fragility of the peace process. Any person male or female who possessed a heart would have been brought to tears at the pain and grief and suffering of this young woman’s family. How do you write words adequate enough to explain the senseless, pointless and idiotic act of madness that robbed Lyra McKee of her young vibrant and active life? There are simply no words strong enough to condemn this slaughter, and certainly no words of comfort will ever erase the pain and the grief felt by her partner and her family. To add insult to injury her killers apologised for their evil actions as if it could all be undone. Maybe if the killer was to come forward, give himself up, ask for forgiveness, take his comeuppance, and above all make his peace with God, maybe, and then just maybe, could their apology be taken seriously. 

The politicians who gathered in Derry to protest their outrage and at her funeral did so in a united act of solidarity against the evil which still exists in our country. For more than two years now they have ignored the wishes of the electorate to work together in Stormont for the benefit of all of us, and despite umpteen pleas from every one they refused to do so. With all due respect to Lyra McKee do we really believe that her death will kick-start politicians to run this country? Many are dead and the promises have died also, but we hope and pray that her death will not be in vain. The problem is, why didn’t they start on Monday, why leave it to another week goes by before making a move? But then  as we all know they are good at stalling, putting things off. Why do today what you can put off for another couple of months?


Banbridge, Co Down             

So-called republicans should use energies to learn Irish

There is something that the IRA can do to offer comfort to the family of Lyra McKee. In one word – disband.

I am sure the family and friends of Lyra McKee and most Irish people would be very happy and comforted to know that the organisation has disbanded.

While saying this, I am not saying that the people involved are barred from pursuing their political objectives. There are non-violent and constructive ways for any political beliefs to be progressed. If the leaders of the organisation were wise, they would engage in political debate and reaching out to the community to form coalitions for a common purpose. You know, the kind of things that normal political parties and campaigns do.

If they wanted to do something constructive, they could also learn the Irish language and encourage its use as much as possible.

I always find the so-called republicans who march around in British army uniforms and who can’t speak any Irish a bit of a joke.

If you wear the uniforms of your enemy and can only speak your enemy’s language, what are you fighting for? By using their energies to learn Irish they would do far more for Ireland than firing randomly down a residential street in the dark and murdering innocent bystanders. Learning Irish also has the added advantage of being a bridge to reach out to unionists who are interested in their Irish cultural origins.

Let me finish by using a well-known Irish war cry to the so-called IRA – fág an bealach! (Get off the road).


Trier, Germany

Silencing a journalist

Sandwiched between the killings of journalists Veronica Guerin in 1996 and Lyra McKee in 2019 was the killing of Sunday World  journalist Martin O’Hagan. In September 2001 Mr O’Hagan was murdered just metres from his home by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force in Lurgan, Co Armagh after publishing a series of articles on the drug dealing of loyalist paramilitaries. Mr O’Hagan’s wife Marie escaped death when Martin pushed her into a hedge to protect her.

Following the inquest into Mr O’Hagan’s killing the Northern Ireland coroner Mr John Leckey praised the work of investigative journalists and said that their work needed to be recognised, appreciated and defended. No-one has been convicted of Mr O’Hagan’s murder despite an RUC/PSNI claim that they know who his killers are. 

Journalists are a vital arm of our democracy and a bulwark upon which our democracy flourishes. Therefore, the murder of any journalist is an attack not only on free speech but on democracy itself. The murder of Mr O’Hagan did not evoke the same degree of outrage and opprobrium among press, public and politicians as the killings of Ms Guerin and Ms McKee did. No president of Ireland, taoiseach, tanaiste, NI secretary of state or first minister was in attendance at his funeral. Would it have been different if Mr O’Hagan had been murdered by republican paramilitaries?.


Dublin 2

Christians are entitled to more respect

Christians across Northern Ireland are greatly saddened by the fact that this year’s Belfast City Marathon is to be run on a Sunday.

Many will feel unable to support or take part, as they choose instead to worship God and hear His Word. 

To be honest, there seems no good reason for this change, since the Marathon has been run successfully on Bank Holiday Monday for many years. But Belfast’s churchgoing community are now to be inconvenienced –  an estimated 180 churches are on or near the new route.  Are Christians not entitled to more respect than this?

Every Sunday is a reminder both of Creation and the Resurrection of  Jesus Christ.  These are basic tenets of the Christian faith. It is truly to our benefit and blessing when we ‘Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it

Holy’. (Exodus 20:8 - 11).


Caleb Foundation, Belfast

Why in God’s name not?

Who so quickly initiated, arranged, and managed the funeral of Lyra McKee?

Obviously it was done at the highest level of authority with political involvement and intent. Were the subsequent, so quickly announced, inter-party and inter-governmental talks pre-arranged in conjunction with the funeral?

Were the powers-that-be generally prepared and waiting for just such an emotive opportunity?

Will those talks be equally well managed to produce a resolution of the DUP-Sinn Féin impasse; restoration of devolved government; resolution of the problems imposed on Ireland by Brexit?

If not why in God’s name not?


Strabane, Co Tyrone

Solution to stalemate

Two democratic phenomena – the local elections and inter-party talks – couldn’t be more different. In the former, those who vote determine the result while those who abstain play no part at all. In the latter, those who abstain control and veto everything; while those who would want to participate are disallowed.  

To solve the stalemate let the MLAs elect the Executive, and if some members prefer to abstain, never mind; just let those who do want to work get on with it.  


Director, the de Borda Institute, Belfast BT14