Lyra McKee: Partner says killers 'no better than paedophiles' as she criticises Theresa May on marriage equality

Sara Canning condemns dissident republicans and says she told prime minister she had been ‘derelict in her duty to Northern Ireland’

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 08 May 2019 20:09
Sara Canning, partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee, slams Theresa May as 'derelict' in her duty to Northern Ireland

The partner of Lyra McKee has compared the dissident republicans who killed the journalist in Northern Ireland to paedophiles in the way in which they groom young people to commit violence.

Sara Canning attacked those believed to be responsible for Ms McKee’s, death when she was fatally shot during rioting in Londonderry last month.

“What I would say is, and this might be heavy-handed, and people might speak out against it or whatever, but I don’t really care – they are grooming young men and women,” she told Channel 4 News. “They’re no better, they speak out about paedophile gangs, but they’re no better than paedophiles.”

She added: “They literally take young people who are disenfranchised at the best of times, who are living in poverty, who don’t see a future for themselves in Northern Ireland … And they tell them that the way forward is a gun in their hand. The way forward is never a gun in your hand.”

Ms Canning also said she spoke to Theresa May at her partner’s funeral, and told the prime minister she had been “derelict in her duty to Northern Ireland” by saying abortion and gay marriage were a devolved matter.

She said she told Ms May to move to change the laws through Westminster if local politicians failed to act on the issue. “Marriage equality is a cause to which Lyra and I were very committed,” said Ms Canning. “Lyra and I were supposed to be on a big trip to New York this week. We were going to get engaged.

“We talked about getting married in Donegal, but really we wanted our love and our marriage to be recognised in Northern Ireland, just the same as the rest of our family members and friends.

“But to date, politicians have stopped that happening here, despite the fact that most people support equal marriage. If the politicians won’t legislate for equal marriage at Stormont, then the Prime Minister should do it at Westminster.

She added: “That’s what I told Theresa May at Lyra’s funeral. I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country. Surely that's not too much to ask?”

Last month the New IRA admitted responsibility for the Ms McKee’s death and offered “full and sincere apologies” to her family and friends.

Ms Canning rejected the “mealy-mouthed apologies and back-tracking and absolutely pathetic statements” issued by the group.

“You can’t apologise for killing someone. You can’t call it an accidental shooting. You fire a gun at a crowd, that’s not an accidental shooting. You’re aiming to shoot someone. I mean, it’s ridiculous. They’re not defending anyone. They’re literally a scourge on their communities. They’re a scourge.”

Ms Canning also criticised Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley. She said she told Ms Bradley “that she was doing a pretty terrible job as the secretary of state. Her lack of knowledge around Northern Ireland was appalling. She needed to go and educate herself. How on earth she had taken a job where she had no knowledge of the area”.

Ms Canning will address the event outside Belfast City Hall on 18 May. It is being organised by the Love Equality campaign – an umbrella group made up of organisations that support a law change.

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