Reader's Blog: McKee killing shows little has changed since 1981

In a callous and reckless act of indiscriminate violence, the New IRA murdered Lyra McKee. Their victim was a respected and courageous journalist, whose untimely death, at the age of 29, is a huge personal loss to her family and friends, and to her journalistic colleagues.

Her murder was condemned by all political leaders, including the leader of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, and her predecessor, Gerry Adams.

Thirty-eight years ago this month, also in Derry, another young woman, of the same age was murdered. Her name was Joanne Mathers. She was a Protestant and a mother of a one-year-old child. 

She was a census enumerator and was murdered by the IRA because they were opposed to the census taking place in the middle of the 1981 hunger strike. 

In January of 2017, her husband, Lowry, said he could never forgive Martin McGuinness and the IRA for “destroying his family”. In response to Mr Mathers, at the time, Martin McGuinness said: “Dealing with the legacy of the past remains one of the key outstanding challenges of our peace process.”

In keeping with this sentiment, wouldn’t it be appropriate for Mr Adams and Ms McDonald to also condemn the murder of Joanne Mathers?

Furthermore, the best way of ensuring there are no more victims is for Sinn Féin and the DUP to achieve political agreement and the restoration of power-sharing and the primacy of politics over violence. 

When politics fail, the vacuum is filled by terrorists.

John Cushnahan

Former Fine Gael MEP and Leader of the Alliance Party
Co Limerick

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