Northern Ireland

Lyra McKee mural in Florida defaced with swastika and anti-LGBTQ+ graffiti

Volunteers worked to restore a mural for Lyra McKee in Orlando, Florida.
Volunteers worked to restore a mural for Lyra McKee in Orlando, Florida. Volunteers worked to restore a mural for Lyra McKee in Orlando, Florida.

A mural in Florida dedicated to the late Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee has been restored after being defaced with a swastika and anti-transgender slogans.

The mural outside two LGBTQ+ centres in Orlando was first unveiled in 2019 in tribute to Ms McKee who died after being shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry.

She had previously visited Orlando in 2017 as part of a UK delegation, one year after a gunman opened fire at a gay nightclub and killed 49 people.

Volunteers quickly responded over the weekend to repair the damage to the murals, with local representatives condemning the intimidating nature of the graffiti.

A statement from the Zebra Youth organisation called the messages "hateful" and "transphobic".

"We will not allow the recent vandalism to our building by a hate group to detour or waver us," they said.

"We greatly appreciate the support of the Orlando Police Department and our government leaders...Zebra Youth stands strong in our dedication to empowering LGBTQ+ youth to become healthy, productive, and self-sufficient individuals. We will never allow hate to win."

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Anna Vishkaee Eskamani from the Florida House of Representatives called the attacks "absolutely disgusting"while Orlando's council also passed a resolution offering the sympathy of local citizens to Ms McKee's family, friends and partner Sara Canning.

Earlier this year, the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had issued a statement to mark four years since Ms McKee's death.

“In strongly rejecting sectarianism, she embodied the Northern Ireland that I see today – one of realising a better Northern Ireland than what had come before her," he said at the time.

“We stand united against the insidious ideology of those who stole her dreams and what she could have gone on to contribute.”

The former US President Bill Clinton and the ex-US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had also paid tribute to the journalist after attending a special documentary screening in Belfast.

Mr Clinton commented at the time: "“Her death is a powerful reminder that there are few permanent victories in politics or life.

“We owe it to her to, in her words, to say goodbye to bombs and bullets once and for all.”