McDonald and Foster 'ready' for restored Assembly following challenge at Lyra McKee funeral

DUP leader Arlene Foster with Sin Fein's Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill before the funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
By Steve Neville

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she agrees with the comments made by Fr Martin Magill at the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee and called for "serious" talks to restore the Assembly in the North.

Fr Magill challenged the politicians in attendance to use the tragic death of Ms McKee as "the catalyst needed for parties to start talking".

To applause from the congregation, Fr Magill asked: "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?"

Ms McDonald, who was sitting next to DUP leader Arlene Foster at the funeral, said in a statement that she agreed with Fr Magill and that "the murder of Lyra McKee is outrageous".

“In a clear concise way he has said what I have heard all over Ireland, people want the Executive and the Assembly up and running, people want equality and they want good government they can have confidence in.

“Political leaders should be working together...Sinn Féin wants to see the full restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement."

Ms McDonald added that she has told Taoiseach Leo Varadkar UK Prime Minister Theresa May that the current "stalemate" in the Northern Executive was "untenable".

She said: "Sinn Féin is ready to play our full part in a serious and meaningful talks process which removes obstacles to power-sharing, delivers rights, and restores the Assembly."

Meanwhile, Ms Foster has also called for talks and an end to the stalemate after the funeral.

"We all need to come to the table in a spirit of wanting to restore the Assembly and dealing with the issues which matter most to people," Ms Foster said, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph.

"It is time to get Government functioning so we can implement key reforms to fix our hospitals and schools. Whilst we have been able to deliver millions of extra resources from Westminster, we could do so much more though through a restored Assembly and Executive.

"We stand ready to restore our local government immediately and in parallel with a talks process to resolve outstanding issues."

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