Lyra McKee's partner says she has 'lost the woman I was planning to grow old with'
LYRA McKee has been fondly remembered by friends as a "rising star" in journalism who proudly championed the LGBT community.
The 29-year-old gained prominence in 2014 for a blog post called "Letter to my 14-year-old self", in which she wrote about her personal struggles with growing up gay in Belfast.
In the years since, her letter was turned into a short film, she wrote for local and international publications, and had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber.
She previously launched an online crowd-funding project to write a non-fiction book about the Troubles-era cold case murder of South Belfast MP Rev Robert Bradford.
Named as one of the "30 under 30 in media" by Forbes Magazine in 2016, Ms McKee was cited for her passion to "dig into topics that others don't care about".
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The north Belfast woman also worked on a grassroots campaign to reform Northern Ireland's libel laws.
At a vigil in Derry, her partner Sara Canning said she had been left without "the woman I was planning to grow old with".
"We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra," she said.
John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, described Ms McKee as a "hero to many in the LGBT community".
He said she was a "remarkable person" who had "volunteered and fundraised for us, including at a Strictly Come Dancing fundraising event".
"Lyra described herself as someone with two left feet but like everything she did in her life, she gave it everything she had and our lasting memory will be of a smiling and dancing Lyra," he added.
Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), praised her as a "journalist of courage, style and integrity".
Ciarán Ó Maoláin, the NUJ's Belfast secretary, who knew Ms McKee, described her as "intelligent, determined and very witty".
"Those whom she trusted were privileged to be taken into her confidence," he said.
"There is no comfort for us in knowing that her killing, unlike that of Martin O'Hagan or Veronica Guerin, was not targeted."
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Friend Ian Shanks described Ms McKee as "everything you wanted to be in life – honest, funny, sincere, caring".
"I remember how she always wanted to help with our homeless group. She always genuinely cared about everyone around her and beyond," he said.
Close friend Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984, said Ms McKee was a "kind, gentle, witty and stubborn soul".
"I just can't believe that this witty, clever human being has been taken... Feel sick," she said.
Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said Ms McKee's murder has caused "widespread shock and revulsion".
"I have every confidence that the wider community will come together at this time to make clear our conviction that violence solves nothing," he said.