Fr Martin Magill says the return of power sharing is the new beginning he had hoped for.
“Listening to people and politicians there’s no doubt about it, it has changed the atmosphere and lifted the mood, the fact that we have people dedicated to key issues.” said Magill, the parish priest of St John’s on Falls Road, Belfast.
“This certainly gives us a new opportunity,” he said.
In April 2019, he delivered a sermon at the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee in St Anne’s Cathedral saying: “I dare to hope that Lyra’s murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning. I detect a deep desire for this.”
This speech, directed at present politicians is credited with moving Northern Irish politicians and British and Irish Governments to re-starting the talks to resume Stormont.
However, Magill does not credit himself or the death on Lyra alone for the spark that finally moved the parties in Northern Ireland toward resuming government.
“More recently the night of the nurses strike, whenever we passed the hospital and saw nurses on the picket line, that’s for me was really saying ‘golly our situation really needs to be changed, we can’t let this go on’.”
“I would suggest in many ways that that really pushed the issue.”
He hopes that Stormont will immediately begin to tackle issues in the education and health systems.
He feels that waiting lists are a major concern, as well as taking care of staff and mental health services: “There is real concern around the question of mental health and people who are ending their own lives.”