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RIP Lyra McKee

FREELANCE journalist Lyra McKee was shot on the night of 18 April while covering rioting in Derry, Northern Ireland. She died of her injuries.

Lyra McKee

This is the photo that Lyra McKee supplied to Forbes magazine when it declared her one of its 30 under 30 in media in 2016.

The National Union of Journalists issued a statement in which General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with her partner, family and many friends and colleagues. A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness.

Alongside her journalistic work Lyra had a promising future as a novelist and in a relatively short career was recognised as a bright, intelligent reporter. Faber is due to publish her book, The Lost Boys, in 2020. Her death is a major loss to journalism.

For the International Federation of Journalists, its President Philippe Leruth said:

We express our deep condolences to Lyra McKee's family and relatives. Lyra's death is a real loss for press freedom in Europe and for the young generation of journalists.

European Federation of Journalists President Mogens Blicher Bjerregård added:

Lyra McKee was a very dedicated journalist. She has extensively covered the Northern Irish conflict, focusing on the victims of violence. She was killed on duty, while informing the public about last night's police operations. We call on the authorities to shed light on this crime. Her case cannot become a new case of impunity [for those who attack journalists].

The leaders of the Ulster Unionist Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, Social Democratic and Labour Party, Alliance Party and Green Party issued a rare joint statement condemning the "heinous crime".

A group called Saoradh issued a statement indicating that a "Republican Volunteer" had fired the shot and "Tragically a young journalist covering the events, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally while standing behind armed Crown Force personnel and armoured vehicles." The Sunday Life - workplace of Martin O'Hagan, the last journalist to be killed in Northern Ireland - and others have reported that Saoradh is linked to the dissident Republican group the "New IRA", though Saoradh disputes this.

Rioting broke out on the night of 18 April in the Creggan district of Derry when the Police Service of Northern Ireland started a search there for weapons held by dissident Republicans. Lyra McKee was observing this when she was shot. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Belfast Telegraph that police had information of planned attacks in the city over the Easter weekend.

Lyra McKee had worked for the Belfast Telegraph and was also known for her Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self, written in 2014 about what it would be like to come out to her mother as a lesbian. The Letter was made into a short film.

20 April 2019

Two men aged 18 and 19 have been arrested in the course of the police investigation.

"There is no comfort for us in knowing that her killing, unlike that of Martin O'Hagan or Veronica Guerin, was not targeted," Ciarán Ó Maoláin, Secretary of the Belfast and District NUJ Branch to which Lyra McKee belonged, told the BBC. "Like them, Lyra was killed because she was a journalist."

"It would be wrong to say that she was fearless - she was too intelligent for that," he added. "She was, however, brave enough to take calculated risks in pursuit of a story and before the shot was fired she may have felt safest in the lee of an armoured police vehicle."

A GoFundMe appeal to go to the family of Lyra McKee for funeral expenses and to decide on her legacy had raised £53,000 by the end of 20 April.

22 April 2019

The two who were arrested were released without charge yesterday.

20 April 2019

There will be a vigil for Lyra in London: 1pm at St Bride's Church on Wednesday 24/04/19 (map). This coincides with her funeral in Belfast.