Fr Martin Magill says NI politicians felt pressure at Lyra McKee funeral


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Media captionFr Martin Magill speaking to The Andrew Marr Show

The priest who criticised politicians at Lyra McKee’s funeral has said people in the church put “pressure” on them to join a standing ovation.

Ms McKee was shot while observing a riot in Londonderry last week.

Fr Martin Magill was applauded when he asked why it had taken the journalist’s death to bring politicians together.

He told the BBC he believes people in Northern Ireland now want more movement from politicians so that the latest talks to restore Stormont can succeed.

  • New NI political talks process announced
  • McKee funeral priest confronts politicians

In an interview recorded for this Sunday’s Andrew Marr programme, Fr Magill said politicians were slow to stand up when his words were applauded in Belfast’s St Anne’s Cathedral.

“The people, in a sense, really put the pressure on in the cathedral to stand,” the priest said.

“Obviously the politicians realised; ‘Oh goodness, everybody behind us is standing, we need to move,’ and they literally moved because people had moved.

“To some extent it’s almost a metaphor – that I get the sense that people want our politicians to move, and they want them to move now.

“By that I mean in terms of entering into those talks and in a way that will bring a positive result at the end of them.”

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Media caption“Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?”

During the funeral service, Fr Magill had commended Northern Ireland’s political leaders for “standing together” in the Creggan area of Londonderry on Good Friday to attend a vigil for Ms McKee.

However, he then added: “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?”

Fr Magill’s words resonated “across the world,” according to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

She acknowledged his influence as she announced the starting date for a fresh round of all-party talks aimed at restoring Stormont’s power-sharing government.

The negotiations are due to begin on 7 May.

Northern Ireland has been without devolution for more than two years after a bitter falling out between the coalition partners the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin pulled out of the coalition at the height of a financial controversy over the DUP’s handling of a green energy scheme.

Since then, the two parties have been involved in several failed rounds of negotiations, but have been unable to compromise over a number of issues including an Irish language act and the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Fr Magill’s interview will be broadcast as part of The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One at 09:00 BST on Sunday, 28 April.

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