Messages of sympathy flood in for Lyra McKee
NUJ vigil in Dublin - © nuj
Seamus Dooley speaking at the Dublin vigil - © nuj
President Michael D. Higgins signs a book of condolences - © PA
24 April 2019
Michelle Stanistreet and members of the NUJ will be representing the union at the funeral of Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast, today.
Politicians from all sides of the sectarian divide and both sides of the border will be paying their respects at the funeral service held by Dean of St Anne's, Stephen Forde, and Catholic priest Martin Magill; NUJ members will form a guard of honour
The union held a vigil in her honour in Dublin with music from the Dublin Gay and Lesbian choir, Gloria, the previous evening.
The family of Lyra McKee, who was murdered by the New IRA while covering events on the Creggan estate in Derry on Thursday, released a statement about their daughter:
“On Thursday 18th April our beautiful Lyra was taken from us. A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us.
“A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn’t wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone. She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed in passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth. Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none. This openness, and her desire to bring people together, made her totally apolitical.
“We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and love we have witnessed this past few days. It has been of immense solace that Lyra meant so much to so many. We ask everyone who knew Lyra to continue her message of positivity and hope, by respecting her memory with dignity and respect. We as a family know that the whole community has been touched by the events of Thursday night and that many are rightly angry. However, we would ask that Lyra’s life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.
“We are a private family and would ask as a family that our privacy is respected at this impossibly difficult time. We will, in time, speak to you all, but need space and time in the coming days and weeks to deal with the trauma of Lyra’s sudden tragic death. Until that time, we would request that all media contact could be made via our legal representatives.”
Condolences were given at the UK Parliament led by Karen Bradley, Northern Ireland Secretary. NUJ Parliamentary chair, Liz Saville Roberts, said: "I am sure that the Secretary of State values the need to accord safety to journalists bringing truth from conflicts. Following this horrific attack, would she consider working with the Foreign Secretary to propose a UN convention for the protection of journalists worldwide, to ensure that reporters in conflict zones are not treated as combatants?"
A cross-party Early Day Motion, mourned the death of Lyra, recognised the “profound shock and sympathy that greeted this news right across the community”, commended the bravery of journalists across the world and noted “that last year 95 journalists and media professionals lost their lives in targeted killings, bomb attacks or crossfire incidents worldwide”. NUJ members are encouraged to ask their MP to sign it.
Messages of sympathy have flooded into the union, including from API:
"The Association de la Presse Internationale extends to the partner and family of Lyra McKee and to all Irish journalists their deepest sympathies and condolences on the murder of one of the bravest and most original new voices of Irish journalism. Her pointless death as she did her work strikes a blow at press freedom and at the North of Ireland’s precious peace process. She was a sister, lost to all of us. "Speaking for European fellow journalists we can only echo the words of a dear friend of hers: ‘Let no one dare say that she died in the cause of Irish freedom. Lyra was Irish freedom.’"
In an article for the Washington Post, Lyra McKee’s killing shows how dangerous it is to be a journalist in Northern Ireland, Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish Secretary, said: “The murder of Lyra McKee in Derry, Northern Ireland, on Thursday night has cast a long shadow. Although she was only 29, McKee was a widely respected journalist who had just signed a two-book deal with acclaimed publisher Faber & Faber. She was also a passionate campaigner for LGBT rights in Northern Ireland, penning a 2014 letter to her teenage self about being gay that went viral and was the basis of a short film.”
The union is encouraging every NUJ member to take part in a symbolic action at 1pm today in Lyra’s memory. Whether you are in a newsroom, at lunch or working alone please take a stand for journalism and encourage those around you to join in a simple gesture of solidarity. However you choose to mark Lyra’s life, please share with NUJ colleagues by tweeting a picture using the hashtag #WeStandWithLyra and post to the NUJ Facebook page. Download the poster and tweet your condolences.
Belfast - Lyra's funeral takes place in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast at 1pm on Wednesday 24 April followed by burial in Carnmoney cemetery. NUJ members will form a guard of honour at the funeral.
Glasgow - To coincide with Lyra’s funeral NUJ members have organised a vigil in Glasgow for 1pm on Wednesday, at Buchanan Street Steps, Glasgow.
London - There will be a vigil in London at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street at 1pm. The church has been dedicated as a place of vigil for the whole day. NUJ members can also gather outside Headland House at a vigil organised by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Books of condolences will also be available at the receptions in Headland House, the NUJ’s London headquarters,72 Acton Street, London WC1X 9NB, St Bride's church, and also in the Dublin office, Spencer House, 2nd Floor, Spencer Row,Dublin 1 .
The NUJ has been supporting friends of Lyra who set up a GoFundMe account, as a practical act of solidarity to cover funeral expenses and to establish a legacy to mark Lyra’s contribution to journalism, you can donate to the fund online.