To see the coffin of a young woman who has died at the hands of terrorists lying in a church, is, for me, a cold and chilling reminder of the horrors of our past. By now, all right-thinking people will have welcomed Fr. Martin Magill’s stirring speech where he asked the congregation attending the funeral mass of journalist, Lyra McKee, “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 us to this point?” as he acknowledged politicians from both sides of the divide for finally standing together, side by side.
By now, readers will know that Lyra was a beautiful and talented young woman who was callously gunned down by the so-called New IRA as she observed rioting in Derry’s Creggan estate on April 18th. And, as Fr. Magill’s words sparked a spontaneous round of applause and standing ovation from mourners, we witnessed Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill as well as the DUP’s Arlene Foster looking distinctly uncomfortable, with the trio’s body language appearing to be downright awkward as they glanced sideways at each other to see who else was standing to applaud, with Arlene Foster not even attempting to bring her palms together, rather her response being to feebly tap one hand off the other in what can only be described as an apathetic effort at acknowledgement.
However, even though it’s horrendously tragic that it took the murder of a much-loved young woman, it appears Lyra’s death has kick-started a process as, during a joint press conference with British Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley, Tánaiste Simon Coveney has pledged “to make sure that no other ceasefire babies are murdered,” with fresh talks involving both governments, including the main parties in the North, set to begin on 7th May.
I don’t know about you folks, but I’m praying to anyone who’ll listen that the peace we’ve all enjoyed and deserved on this island will be re-established, along with the restoration of power-sharing, before the onset of the annual scourge we call ‘the marching season’ takes hold. Moreover, I’m also praying that those who’re involved in these talks will stop malingering and show some of the leadership displayed by the late Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley.
Even though many may not have agreed with this duo’s personal style of politics, it’s fair to say they got the job done. From where I’m sitting, the party leaders today haven’t got a patch on these two one-time sworn enemies, who finally realised that, in order to bed down the peace process, they’d each need to take major career risks. For me, (apart from Michael Collins), heroes don’t come much bigger than McGuinness and Paisley, whose unexpected friendship earned them the title ‘The chuckle brothers,’ and I worry if today’s lot have the will, the wisdom and the liathróidí to walk in their shoes. Why? Because, in the minds of the DUP and Sinn Féin leaderships, I’d imagine their reputations are of paramount importance. (But I could be wrong). Thank God, the one-time IRA commander/unrepentant republican, and his best buddy, the unionist preacher-man who swore he’d “never, never, never” sit down with republicans, were change-makers who placed peace first.
It’s no secret that the most influential and powerful politicians on both sides have outwardly indicated their intentions and their eagerness to restore power-sharing, but their spin doctors should make them realise they need to go into these talks knowing that someone will have to compromise; and, while it may appear to them that compromise means losing, it doesn’t. For us, the people they represent, compromise means winning, because those who can find it in their thick skulls to strike a middle ground, who cooperate and who concede, even just a smidgen, are not just heroes, they’re clear winners! All it requires is a bit of give and take, and we’ve got mission accomplished!
Give our frontline Gardaí 24-hour armed support
As a new report from the Policing Authority has revealed that ‘only half of Garda reform targets have been met,’ my reaction is this…if I were only performing at a rate of fifty per cent in my job, I’d be sacked!
Look, I’m a huge supporter of our brave police force, especially the local rank and file Gardaí, whom, with the rise of gang violence, are extremely under-resourced and yet still manage to work very hard for our communities, and I’d imagine since these findings have been made public, morale must surely have hit rock bottom, specifically among those who’re now requesting 24-hour armed support units in all divisions across the country; and rightly so. Give it to them, Minister Flanagan. They deserve it. Remember, these are the Gardaí who’re on the frontline. These are the Gardaí who know where the pressure points are. These are the Gardaí who’re being placed in perilous positions.
So, as a taxpaying Irish citizen, and as an interfering aul wan, I’m requesting Garda Commissioner Drew Harris do two things. One, manage your budget a bit better, and two, look at your reform targets again and ask yourself the following…Were the initiatives realistic? Were they even achievable? If so, were they properly implemented? Or, was the entire exercise a shed-load of, get-it-out-there-and-make-us-look-good PR spin?
Restaurants are not adventure playgrounds
I’ve no problem with mini diners having an occasional little episode in restaurants. It happens. However, even if their appalling editing skills annoy me, I agree with the Mediterranean restaurant in Llandudno, North Wales whose dining room ‘rules’ for parents state that “If a child cannot be stopped from disturbing other dinners (sic) we will unfortunately have to ask you to leave the restaurant”.
Look, whether it’s a child throwing a hissy fit or an adult acting like a feral hooligan, I believe all establishments should be able to politely ask noisy, rowdy, troublesome patrons to leave their premises; after all, a restaurant/hotel is not an adventure playground! Now I’ve never come across a badly-behaved child in any Roscommon establishment I’ve visited, (it’s the truth, they’re all little angels), but I’ve got a major issue with those parents who have a blind spot when it comes to their offspring and whom, instead of making sure the little rugrats sit nicely at the table and not run around causing not only a nuisance but possibly a serious accident, choose instead to ignore them in favour of texting and taking selfies!