Vigils in Northern Ireland for murdered gay journalist Lyra McKee


northern ireland gay journalist lyra mckee
Photo: International Journalism Festival/Wikimedia Commons

Vigils have been held across Northern Ireland following the shooting death of gay journalist Lyra McKee, as police search for her killers.

The 29-year-old was shot after violence broke out in Londonderry in Northern Ireland on Thursday night.

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The Police Service of Northern Island attributed the killing to the New Irish Republican Army, a dissident republican group. Police had been conducting searches for firearms and explosives after the group allegedly planned attacks over the Easter weekend.

During the riot, a gunman fired shots “indiscriminately” towards police officers and McKee, who was standing near a police vehicle, was wounded in what police described as a “terrorist incident”. She later died in hospital.

At a vigil in Derry on Friday, McKee’s partner Sara Canning described the journalist as a “tireless advocate and activist” for the LGBTIQ community.

Canning said she had been left without “the woman I was planning to grow old with”.

“The senseless murder of Lyra McKee has left a family without a beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt and a great-aunt; so many friends without their confidante,” Canning said.

“Our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act.

“This cannot stand, Lyra’s death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else’s life and her legacy will live on and the life that she has left behind.”

McKee was killed just hours before the 21st anniversary of the signing of a peace agreement in Northern Ireland to end the period of conflict in the country known as “The Troubles”.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said McKee “changed lives” as a journalist and an activist “and [she] will do so again in death.”

“Twenty-one years ago on Good Friday, we as a people, north and south, chose peace, democracy, powersharing and ever closer co-operation, and we will not be dragged into the past,” he said.

“This was an act of fear, this was an act of hate, and this was an act of cowardice.

“Those who carried it out do not share the views of our nation nor of our republic and we reject them.

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“This was an attack not just on one citizen – it was an attack on all of us, our nation and our freedoms.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May said McKee’s death was “shocking and truly senseless” and she “died doing her job with great courage.”

Police appeal for information

Two teenage men, aged 18 and 19, were arrested and held under the terrorism act but later released without charges at the weekend.

Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Island have appealed for anyone with information on the killing to come forward.

“We have received very positive support from the community but we need to convert this support into tangible evidence that will enable us to bring Lyra’s killers to justice,” Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said.

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