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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019
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'The loss of Lyra': Funeral service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee to take place in Belfast

The 29-year-old journalist was killed in Derry in the early hours of Good Friday.

LYRA MCKEE (1)

THE FUNERAL OF 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead in Derry last Thursday, will take place at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast this afternoon. 

Led jointly by Dean of St Anne’s Stephen Forde and Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill, her funeral service begins at 1pm and will be attended by President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. 

Today, Lyra’s friends and loved ones have suggested that those attending wear Harry Potter, Hufflepuff or Marvel-related t-shirts to the funeral in honour of McKee. 

“It’s going to be a celebration of her life,” her partner Sara Canning has said. “If people would like to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter, or Marvel related t-shirts… I know she would love it.”

photo posted online yesterday by one of Lyra’s friends showed a t-shirt with the word ”#teamlyra” printed above the Hufflepuff house crest from the Harry Potter novels. 

One of four Hogwarts school houses in JK Rowling’s fictional universe, Hufflepuff is the most inclusive of the houses, its members known for their dedication, hard work and loyalty.

Fellow journalists unable to attend this afternoon’s service have been asked to step out of work – together or alone – to commemorate Lyra.

‘The loss of Lyra’

The young journalist’s murder during rioting at the Fannad Drive area in Creggan has been condemned across the political spectrum. 

In a statement published yesterday, the New IRA admitted responsibility for Lyra McKee’s death. 

A 57-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with her killing. Two men aged 18 and 19 were previously arrested in connection with the murder and were subsequently released without charge.

Tributes have been paid over the past five days to the young journalist, an advocate for human and LGBTQI rights and civil liberties.

Vigils were held in towns and cities across Ireland following her murder. On Good Friday afternoon, Dublin’s Unitarian Church read the names of the 3,500 people killed as a result of conflict in Northern Ireland, adding one more name to its list of victims that morning. 

Subsequent vigils were held in Belfast, Dublin, Derry, Newry and Omagh. On Easter Sunday, a group of McKee’s friends held a protest outside the headquarters of a dissident Republican group in Derry. 

Walking to Junior McDaid house in Derry, HQ of a number of dissident republican groups, McKee’s friends put red handprints on the walls of the building. 

Londonderry unrest Tributes left to Lyra McKee in Derry Source: PA Wire/PA Images

Yesterday in Limerick, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held a vigil honouring Lyra while a second vigil took place at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance. 

Paying tribute to her partner on Good Friday, Sara Canning said Lyra’s “senseless murder” had left “a family without a beloved daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a great-aunt, has left so many friends without their confident, victims in the LGBTQIA 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.”

“We are all poor for the loss of Lyra.”

A GoFundMe page set up in honour of Lyra has since raised almost all of its £60,000 goal to cover the costs today’s funeral and to help decide on her legacy. 

‘Her legacy’

Having contributed to the Atlantic, the Belfast Telegraph and the Pensive Quill, Lyra McKee recently signed a two-book deal with publisher Faber.

Her second book The Lost Boys, which explores the disappearances of a number of children and young men during The Troubles, was due to be published next year. 

Topics covered by McKee for a variety of publications include the difficulties faced by young people coming out as gay in conservative and religious households in Northern Ireland and the legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict.

Lyra was just eight years old when the Good Friday Agreement was signed on 10 April 1998 and the guns finally fell silent in the North. She and her friends were part of the generation that became known as The Ceasefire Babies – the people too young to remember the worst of the conflict. 

In her own words: 

We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, spared from the horrors of war. But still, the aftereffects of those horrors seemed to follow us. 

Following her funeral service today, Lyra McKee will be laid to rest at Carnmoney Cemetery in Newtownabbey.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

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