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Image / Editorial

‘A remarkable human being’: Hundreds gather at vigil for Lyra McKee

by Jennifer McShane
23rd Apr 2019

A vigil in Dublin city centre was held to commemorate the life of Lyra McKee who was killed last week during riots. The feminist, activist and journalist was just 29-years-old when she was fatally shot on Thursday during a riot in the Creggan area of Derry. A group calling itself the New IRA has claimed responsibility for her death.

The vigil was held in celebration of her life but also in “anger” at the tragic end to her life.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) organised the vigil, which saw hundreds of Lyra’s NUJ colleagues celebrate the life of the activist who achieved so much and touched the lives of those around her. Dr Grainne Healy, co-director of the Yes Equality Campaign read Ms McKee’s “Letter to my 14-year-old self” – in which she described her experiences growing up gay in Belfast.

Related: Lyra McKee: The ceasefire baby whose life ended with a single bullet

The vigil was concluded by over a minute of applause.

 “We gather in anger at the death of our friend, at the murder of our friend. We gather in anger at those who seek to claim our streets and who disrespect our democracy,” Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the NUJ told the crowd.

“But tonight we also gather in celebration, in celebration of a feminist, an activist, a daughter, a sister, a lover, a journalist, a remarkable human being, a kind, compassionate, funny and caring person who brought light and laughter wherever she went, even as often she was angry, frustrated and mad as hell at those who refused to move at the pace which she would have them move.”

“A person who refused to accept that things had to be the way they were”

Gloria, Dublin’s Gay and Lesbian choir sang ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ while singer Noel O’Grady sung a rendition of ‘The Island’.

“A gentle innocent soul”

“On Thursday, April 18 our beautiful Lyra was taken from us. A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us,” her family said in a statement.

“A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn’t wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone. She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed in passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth. Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none”

Lyra’s funeral will take place tomorrow, Wednesday, April 24.

Main photograph: @BelTel