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Gay Irish leader among thousands at funeral for LGBTI journalist Lyra McKee

Gay Irish leader among thousands at funeral for LGBTI journalist Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee

Thousands attended the funeral of LGBTI journalist Lyra McKee today (24 April) after her death last week.

A masked gunman allegedly shot the 29-year-old journalist to death on Thursday (18 April) while she reported on ‘dissident republican activity’ in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Family and friends, as well as gay Irish leader Leo Varadkar, attended the funeral at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn also attended the funeral. Controversially, DUP Leader Arlene Foster — whose party is staunchly anti-gay — also attended the funeral.

As the funeral car with the body of Lyra McKee drove up to the church, onlookers gave the journalist a round of applause.

As pall-bearers carried the coffin into the church, the public outside gave her another round of applause.

Catholic priest Father Magill said: ‘I dare to hope that Lyra’s murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning. I detect a deep desire for this.

He then added: ‘To those who had any part in her murder, I encourage you to reflect on Lyra McKee, journalist and writer, as a powerful example of “The pen is mightier than the sword”.

‘I plead with you to take the road of non-violence to achieve your political ends,’ he said.

Prior to the funeral, Lyra’s partner Sara Canning urged mourners to show their respects by wearing Harry Potter and Avengers outfits.

She said: ‘It’s going to be a celebration of her life and if people would like to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter or Marvel related items, I know she would love it.’

Lyra McKee ‘was the greatest listener’

The family of Lyra McKee released a statement yesterday (23 April) ahead of the funeral today.

‘Our beautiful Lyra was taken from us,’ the statement read. ‘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.’

It then added: ‘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.’

The family said thanked the public for all of their support and love. But they asked if the public could respect their wishes for a cemetery burial with close friends and family only.

A star on the rise, shot down

McKee lived in Londonderry where she edited media trade publication, Mediagazer. Forbes named her on its 30 under 30 in media list in 2016.

She had published a non-fiction novella about The Troubles in Northern Ireland called Angels with Blue Faces. Publishing house Faber & Faber had also given her a two-book deal, of which the first book The Lost Boys was due for release next year.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described McKee as ‘one of the most promising journalists’ in Northern Ireland.

Hundreds of people have paid tribute to Mckee, including British Prime Minister Theresa May who said she ‘died doing her job with great courage’.

Not long before her murder, McKee tweeted a photo of the riots with the caption ‘Derry tonight. Absolute madness’.

After the news of her death, a GoFundMe page became active to raise money for funeral costs.

At the time of writing, it has over £60,000 ($78,000). If you’d like to donate, check out the GoFundMe page.

See also

LGBTI people share moving stories of their high school prom