I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of her statement, and I echo the comments that she and Tony Lloyd made. On behalf of the Scottish National party, I fully condemn this careless, cruel and cowardly murder. We send our deepest condolences to Lyra’s partner, friends and family.
Lyra McKee was simply doing her job at the time she was murdered, and it was a job she carried out with great skill. The New IRA has admitted its responsibility, saying that it was simply an “accident” and apologising to her friends and family. But sorry is nowhere near good enough. Sorry does not bring Lyra back. Sorry does not ease the suffering of her partner Sara and of her friends and family. Sorry does not alleviate the concerns of communities across Northern Ireland about a step backwards to a past they had hoped to forget. Reading the statement, we would be forgiven for thinking that the past two post-Good-Friday-agreement decades simply had not happened.
This tragedy underlines what people in Northern Ireland have been saying for years now, and there is no possible alternative conclusion: the current stalemate has been going on for too long. So I am grateful for what the Secretary of State said in her statement about talks with the parties this week. Can she confirm what form they will take? Does she have a realistic goal as to when she thinks the Executive can be back up and running by?
I want to finish with Lyra’s own words, powerful words that highlight just what her murder has robbed us of. She wrote a letter to her younger self about growing up gay in Northern Ireland, in which she said:
“You will do ‘normal’ things. You will spend time with your mum. You will go to work and pay your bills. You will go to the cinema with your best friend every week because that’s your ritual—dinner then an action movie where things explode. You will fall in love again. You will smile every day, knowing that someone loves you as much as you love them. Keep hanging on, kid. It’s worth it. I love you.”
Poignantly, she also said:
“We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace. The spoils just never seemed to reach us.”
Let us ensure that she is the last to suffer.