Lyra McKee: Woman shot dead was journalist 'of courage, style and integrity’, as tributes made to victim of Northern Ireland violence

Twenty-nine-year-old 'dedicated to covering the lasting trauma and violence of the Troubles'

Chris Baynes
Friday 19 April 2019 23:05
Woman shot dead in Londonderry unrest

Friends and colleagues have paid to tribute to a 29-year-old journalist shot dead in a “terrorist incident” in Northern Ireland.

Lyra McKee was described as a gifted investigative reporter with “courage, style and integrity” and a “kind, gentle, witty and stubborn soul”.

Born in Belfast, she extensively covered sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and had been published by The Independent, The Atlantic and BuzzFeed News.

Her partner Sara Canning said: "Our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act."

Lilly Dancyger, a New York-based editor at digital publication Narratively, said McKee was “dedicated to covering the lasting trauma and violence of the Troubles”.

“Devastating to hear she was killed tonight by that same violence,” she tweeted.

Police have blamed Irish dissident republicans for McKee’s murder.

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984, described McKee as a “kind, gentle, witty and stubborn soul”.

She added: “I have just heard, that my lovely friend Lyra was murdered tonight in Derry. I just can’t believe, that this witty, clever human being has been taken ... Feel sick.”

Journalist Matthew Hughes said he had been “devastated” by the death of one of his closest friends.

“She was my mentor. She was a groomswoman at my wedding. I can’t imagine life without her, and yet now I must,” he tweeted.

Lyra McKee was seen as a rising star in investigative journalism

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), said: “We are shocked by killing of a journalist of courage, style and integrity. Sympathy to her partner, family and many friends.”

NUJ general secretary said McKee was was one of the most promising journalists in Northern Ireland. She added: "A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence.

"A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness."

McKee was seen as a rising star of investigative journalism. In 2016 she was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30, and last year she signed a two-book deal with Faber and Faber.

The first of those books, The Lost Boys, was scheduled to be published next year and would focus on the “the indirect ways the violence of war plays out, through its secondary waves of victims, and through the way trauma is passed on to subsequent generations,” according to literary agents Janklow and Nesbit.

McKee had also written about her struggle growing up gay in Belfast, and had been an editor at news aggregator Mediagazer since 2011.

Ms Canning said: "Victims and LGBTQI community are left without a tireless advocate and activist and it has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.

"This cannot stand, Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on and the life that she has left behind."

Gabe Rivera, McKee's colleague at Mediagazer, tweeted: “We are shocked and anguished by reports that our brave and wonderful colleague Lyra McKee has been murdered amid violence in Derry.”

Writer Brooke Magnanti said she was “stunned” by the news of McKee’s death. She wrote on Twitter: “She struck me as a thoughtful journalist unafraid to challenge her own beliefs. Rare and precious.”

Friends have set up a crowdfunding page for McKee's family and had raised more than £6,500 within hours.

Politicians also paid tribute to McKee and condemned her murder.

Prime minister Theresa May said: "The death of Lyra McKee in last night's suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless.

"My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues. She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage."

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Mayor of Derry John Boyle, who had known McKee since she was 16, said she was "bright, she was warm, she was witty, but most of all she was an outstanding individual, a great friend to so, so many people in this city in the short time that she was with us".

He added: "There's an awful lot of anger in this city today. It has to be said again, this was not done in the name of the people of this city. Those responsible need to understand that. I can't put it any stronger than that."

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley said she was "deeply shocked and saddened" to hear of the journalist's death.

She added: "Those responsible for last night's violence have nothing to offer anyone in Northern Ireland.

"Their intolerable actions are rejected by the overwhelming majority of people who want to build a peaceful and more prosperous future for everyone in Northern Ireland."

US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is visiting Belfast with a delegation from American congress, extended her condolences after taking part in a minute's silence in Northern Ireland's parliament.

She said: "We join you on the sadness of the tragedy that happened last night, we extend our condolences to the family, and your moment of silence at this time, on Good Friday is especially poignant," she said.

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