Family, Friends And Political Leaders Gather For Funeral Of Journalist Lyra McKee

Hundreds of mourners, including leading Irish and British politicians, gathered for McKee's funeral service at St Anne's Church of Ireland cathedral.


Mourners gathered at St Anne’s Church of Ireland cathedral at 1pm this afternoon for the funeral of Lyra McKee, a young journalist murdered by the self-styled New IRA last Thursday when a gunman opened fire on a street in the Creggan area of Derry during a riot.

The chief mourners at the funeral were McKee’s partner Sara Canning, her mother Joan, her sisters Joan, Nichola and Mary, brothers Gary and David, nieces and nephews and great-niece Ava. They were joined by hundreds of people, with those who could not fit inside the cathedral listening to a broadcast of the service outside the building.

As the funeral car drove up to the church, onlookers honoured the journalist with a round of applause. The crowd applauded again as the pall-bearers carried McKee’s coffin inside.

The ecumenical service, led jointly by Dean of St Anne’s Stephen Forde and Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill, was a celebration of McKee’s life and personality. The chosen funeral wreaths included a heart of pink and white flowers and wreaths made up of the rainbow colours used to symbolise the LGBT+ community.

Sara Canning had invited mourners to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter or Marvel related clothing to the funeral, saying “I know she would love it.”

Across Ireland and the UK, journalists stood in solidarity with Lyra while the funeral was taking place.

Politicians in attendance included President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, British prime minister Theresa May, Northern Secretary Karen Bradley, DUP leader Arlene Foster and many other party leaders.

Addressing the congregation, Fr Magill said “I hadn’t heard the term Hufflepuff until I did an internet search and found this definition – ‘Hufflepuff is the most inclusive among the four houses; valuing hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play.’ It struck me that the definition could just as easily have been about Lyra.”

He praised McKee’s warmth, her devotion to her family and work as a journalist, her “determined doggedness,” and her love of life, while offering sharp criticism for her New IRA killers and the politicians who have contributed to a feeling of paralysis in Northern Ireland.

“Since Thursday night we have seen the coming together of many people in various places and the unifying of the community against violence,” he said. “I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday. I am, however, left with a question: ‘Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?’”

He added “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.”

He quoted a friend of McKee’s from Derry, who said “We have had enough. There is a younger generation coming up in the town and they don’t need guns put in their hands. They need jobs, they need a better health service and education. They need a life.”

Fr Magill went on to call McKee’s work as a journalist “a powerful example of ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.'”

He told those involved in Northern Ireland politics “I know you as politicians have a very difficult job, but then so too did Lyra. There is another valuable lesson from her life – she was like ‘a dog with a bone’ when she believed she could make a difference.

“When it comes to our peace process, I would love to see this dogged attitude to the rebuilding of an Assembly that works for the common good. As I listen to the radio every morning, all I seem to hear about various initiatives in Northern Ireland are these words: ‘Without a minister, this can’t be taken forward.’ I pray that Lyra’s murder may be the catalyst needed for parties to start talking, to reform that which was corrosive in previous assemblies and to begin anew.”

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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