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25/09/2021

Derry will not let Lyra’s death be in vain

Derry is a city in mourning, a city deeply wounded, but a city that is resolute and will not let Lyra McKee’s death be in vain. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a young woman I had never met but have been moved by profoundly. I am not alone in this feeling. Lyra McKee, 29, was laid to rest following a poignant service at St Anne’s Cathedral in her native Belfast. The brilliant journalist, writer and campaigner, was senselessly shot dead as she did her job. She was a talented journalist who was covering the trouble that flared up in Creggan last Thursday night following police raids in the area. A young woman, standing innocently by, was struck in the head by a bullet fired from the gun of a member of the New IRA. He fired indiscriminately up Fanad Drive in the direction of police but also in the direction of numerous bystanders, including men, women and children. Lyra described herself as a child of the ceasefire but little did she know, when that ceasefire would come of age – celebrating its 21st year of relative peace – she would be robbed of seeing a future where it finally really worked. I know the people of Derry have taken this hard. Derry is a city that has suffered deeply because of the Troubles. Lyra’s brutal and pointless death has picked a painful scab that had taken a long time to heal. Now the familiar flow of that blood has reminded us of the agony we once lived in. From a personal perspective, I felt deeply moved by Lyra’s death for a number of reasons; as a journalist, as someone who has lost a family member so mindlessly to a bullet and as a proud Derry woman. I felt sick, hurt, ashamed and fearful that anyone would believe that the thugs that did this are representative of this city. They are not. People in this city have been held to ransom much too long by a small number of backward-thinking idiots who believe that their ‘cause’ is legitimate. Our children want to live in peace. Our peace process isn’t perfect but we have all agreed that talking to each other and working together is better than killing each other...well, all of us except you – you’re quite happy to drag us back into the mire. Can you not take a hint? Have you not felt the enormity and gravity of the rejection the community you claim to represent has unleashed upon you? United Ireland – well, you’ve finally achieved that – you’ve united Ireland in its disgust and condemnation against your thuggery and bully-boy tactics. A young, gifted woman is dead now because of you. You have blood on your hands. Go away. You’re not wanted. You’re embarrassing yourselves. You’re pathetic.

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