Friends of Lyra McKee start 70-mile peace walk from Belfast to Derry

'We have some walkers who played their part in the Troubles - they are here to show change can happen'

Colin Drury
Saturday 25 May 2019 17:20
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Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee have started a three-day peace walk from Belfast to Derry.

Hundreds of admirers have also joined the trek, which will cover roughly 70 miles, and end with a rally on Monday evening.

Ms McKee, who lived in Belfast, was shot dead by a dissident republican group, the New IRA, while observing clashes with police in Derry last month. She was just 29.

Brenda Gough, the walk’s logistics and location manager, urged anyone who sees the walkers to show their support or even join in.

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody has promised to walk the Monday leg.

“We had over 300 walkers registered, obviously life happens, but the main body of walkers have turned up,” Ms Gough said.

“The aim was to have a very mixed representation of the whole community of Northern Ireland and everyone has stepped up.

“This type of movement attracts people who have a lot of empathy and compassion, and don’t hold prejudice.

“We do have some walkers who have played their part in the Troubles. They are here to support us and show that change can happen.

“That is the ethos of this, we want people to address themselves and not the politicians, because we have the politicians that we vote for. We are responsible for our government. We can’t just blame them.”

The walk started in Belfast’s famed Writer’s Square and will conclude with the rally at Derry Guildhall.

“Starting at Writer’s Square was Sara Canning’s [Ms McKee’s fiancé] idea,” explained Ms Gough. “She said Lyra was a writer and so the start point should be Writer’s Square.

“It’s beside St Anne’s Cathedral where the funeral was, so yeah, we are starting off where we last saw Lyra.”

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During the funeral a priest asked Northern Ireland’s politicians – many of who were in attendance – why it took the death of a young woman to unite their parties.

The latest talks process, designed to restore devolved political power sharing after more than two years without a functioning government, was launched soon after the funeral.

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