Northern Ireland news

Lyra McKee's funeral will be 'celebration of her life' says partner

Tributes left at the scene where Lyra McKee was murdered in the Creggan estate, Derry, on Thursday night. Picture Margaret McLaughlin
Mairead Holland

MOURNERS at the funeral of murdered journalist Lyra McKee are being invited to wear items of Harry Potter or Marvel clothing to celebrate her life.

The funeral of the 29-year-old is to take place at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on Wednesday April 24 at 1pm.

The author and civil liberties campaigner, who was working on her second book, was shot in the head as she observed rioting in the Creggan estate, Derry, on the night of April 18.

In a post on her Facebook page yesterday her partner Sara Canning said Ms McKee "would love it" if people "would like to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter, or Marvel related items" at the service.

The family of Lyra McKee also said they are happy for mourners to wear tee-shirts and scarves reflecting their sister's interest in Harry Potter and Marvel although not full costumes.

''We want the funeral to be a dignified celebration of Lyra's life,'' said her sister Mary Crossan.

Ms McKee was born in Belfast and attended the former St Gemma's High School in the city, but had been living in Derry.

Sara Canning speaks at a vigil in memory of her partner in the Creggan in Derry on Friday April 19:

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She was standing near a police vehicle when sh was shot after a masked gunman fired towards police and onlookers.

Two teenagers, aged 18 and 19, who had been detained under anti-terrorism legislation were released without charge last night.

The words "not in our name - RIP Lyra" have been added to the famous Free Derry mural in the city's Bogside area.

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to Free Derry Corner. Picture by Joe Boland/PA Wire 

Speaking at the Easter Sunday mass in Saint Columba’s Church, Long Tower, in Derry, Bishop Donal McKeown prayed for "all those who are heartbroken at the tragic loss of Lyra”.

He said: "Our beautiful building lies just yards from the house where the murdered journalist Lyra McKee and Sara Canning had decided to make their home.

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"On Good Friday this whole community stood uncomprehending at the foot of a Cross. So, on this Easter morning, we gather with deep sadness in our hearts and without any simplistic message about the Resurrection."

Bishop McKeown also told the BBC's Sunday Sequence programme that people in the Creggan estate were "disgusted at what happened" and needed to be "liberated" from dissident republicans.

"We don't want to be laboured with a reputation that comes from a small group that represents a small number of people but is actually a danger to all of us," he said.

A statement issued by the hardline republican political party Saoradh on Friday sought to justify the use of violence on Thursday night.

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Saoradh, which translates as liberation in Irish, has the support of the dissident republican group the New IRA.

Meanwhile, a fundraising page set up by Ms McKee's friend Michael Harris had yesterday reached more than £55,000 to help her family with funeral costs and her legacy.

Mr Harris, who met Ms McKee through her campaigning work to reform the law of libel in Northern Ireland, described her as "one of the nicest, smartest and most decent people I have ever met".

He said: "Lyra was part of a new generation of Northern Irish journalists (and young people) who had moved past sectarian identities and wanted to build a more progressive, more peaceful Northern Ireland. Lyra was a powerful advocate for LGBTi rights, civil liberties and human rights.

"Lyra was also an incredible investigative journalist. She was in Forbes 30 Under 30 List, had a growing international reputation and was working on her second book. She .... was a passionate defender of press freedom and exposing the truth."

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