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Marching to the sound of a different drum: Lyra Mckee’s legacy must be honoured

Lyra's legacy must be honoured  -  © private

2 July 2019

Delegates at the Biennial Delegate conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have been urged to honour the memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee by carrying on her campaigning work for social justice and marriage equality.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary and Congress executive council member, moved a special motion calling on the ICTU to campaign on the issues cherished by Lyra McKee, including mental health and the provision of adequate funds to tackle the growing problem of suicide in Northern Ireland.

He called on politicians to end the political impasse in Northern Ireland and urged politicians who had attended the funeral of Lyra McKee in Belfast in April to “return to the negotiating table and stay there until they have finished the job to which they were elected”. Recalling the scenes at Lyra’s funeral he said:

“We do a disservice to the memory of Lyra and of all those whose lives have been sacrificed if we do not challenge the political inertia which has allowed a vacuum to develop in Northern Ireland. Let those who stood in St Ann’s Cathedral and applauded Father Martin Magill’s powerful plea for political leadership in the full glare of the world’s media return to the negotiating table – and stay there to do the work they have been elected to do. Leadership means more than the politics of the last photo opportunity. We should by now have moved beyond the politics of the last atrocity.”

Calling for a more inclusive approach to politics in Northern Ireland, the Irish Secretary added: “The voice of workers, of victims, of long-suffering communities deserve to be treated with respect. We in the trade union movement have been shunted to the side lines for too long and our voice must be heard.”

Referring to Lyra McKee’s legacy he said:

“In her work Lyra shone a light on issues such as mental health, suicide, social exclusion and the discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community. In her short life Lyra sought new horizons, refusing to accept that change is impossible. A pioneering and inveterate user of social media Lyra represented the new, modern face of Northern Ireland; a prophetic voice who rose above tribal differences and sought to promote a more inclusive society, free of sectarianism, bigotry and intolerance. Lyra marched to the sound of a different drum. In her life she experienced homophobia, gender discrimination, class distinction, institutionalised discrimination.”

Séamus Dooley said that even in death Lyra’s memory has been sullied by keyboard warriors, by social media trolls who have also sought to diminish another brave journalist Leona O’Neill, who witnessed the murder of her union colleague. The motion was seconded by Alison Millar, vice president, ICTU and general secretary, NIPSA.

Earlier In her address to Congress, President Sheila Nunan paid tribute to the NUJ’s role in supporting journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey following their arrest. No Stone Unturned campaign (Looking back with hope and anger)

Tags: , ireland, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, lyra mckee, lgbt+, mental health, no stone unturned, northern ireland