"We Also Gather In Celebration": Hundreds Gather At Vigil For Murdered Journalist Lyra McKee

Crowds gathered at the Garden of Remembrance last night for a vigil, honouring the memory of Lyra McKee through readings and music.

Crowds attending the vigil for Lyra McKee

Hundreds gathered at the Garden of Remembrance on Parnell Square last night for a vigil in memory of journalist Lyra McKee, organised by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

McKee was shot and killed last week during a riot in Creggan, Derry. A dissident republican group calling itself the ‘New IRA’ has claimed responsibility for her death.

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ, told those assembled at yesterday’s vigil “We gather in anger at the death of our friend, at the murder of our friend. We gather in anger at those who seek to claim our streets and who disrespect our democracy.

“But tonight we also gather in celebration, in celebration of a feminist, an activist, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a journalist, a remarkable human being, a kind, compassionate, funny and caring person who brought light and laughter wherever she went, even as often she was angry, frustrated and mad as hell at those who refused to move at the pace which she would have them move.

“A person who refused to accept that things had to be the way they were.”

Dooley told the crowd that a Go Fund Me page created to cover the costs of McKee’s funeral, set up with a goal of €20,000, has reached €60,000 and continues to receive donations. He said the extra funds will be used to establish a bursary “in honour of an outstanding journalist.”

The vigil celebrated McKee’s life and career, with readings from the young journalist’s own work at the heart of the proceedings. Dr Gráinne Healy, Co-Director of the Yes Equality Campaign, read out McKee’s ‘A letter to my 14-year-old self,’ a heartfelt letter in which McKee shared her experience of growing up gay in Belfast and reassured LGBT+ youth that life gets easier.

“Life is so hard right now,” McKee wrote. “Every day, you wake up wondering who else will find out your secret and hate you. It won’t always be like this. It’s going to get better.”

Eleanor O’Mahony, editor of Trinity College’s student newspaper The University Times, read out ‘The Ceasefire Babies,’ an article by McKee that appeared in The Independent in 2016.

The vigil saw two musical performances, with singer Noel O’Grady performing a rendition of Paul Brady’s ‘The Island’ and Glória, Dublin’s Lesbian and Gay Choir, performing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow.’

Dooley closed the vigil by telling the crowd “Journalists should never be honoured with a minute’s silence, and so instead we’re having a round of applause which can last for as long as you’re able.”

Lyra McKee’s funeral in Belfast today

Lyra Mckee’s funeral will be held in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, at 1pm today. Several hundred are expected to attend, and those unable to get inside the cathedral will be able to hear the service broadcast from outside the building.

In a statement ahead of the funeral, her family said “On Thursday April 18 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 passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the service, representing the British government alongside Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley. They will be joined by President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone, along with other political and community leaders.

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

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