Lyra McKee’s partner made an emotional plea for peace at a vigil in Derry, Northern Ireland, after the lesbian journalist was shot dead on Thursday (April 18).
Thousands of people gathered in the Fanad Drive area of Creggan, where the 29-year-old was killed while observing a riot.
Her partner Sara Canning told the crowds that McKee’s death had left the LGBT+ community “without a tireless advocate and activist,” and her “without the love of my life.”
“Our hopes and dreams, her amazing potential was snuffed out by a single barbaric act,” she said on April 19.
Her amazing potential was snuffed out by a single barbaric act.
—Sara Canning, Lyra McKee’s partner
“This cannot stand. Lyra’s death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else’s life.
“Her legacy will live on in the light that she’s left behind.”
McKee first rose to prominence with “A Letter To My 14-Year-Old Self“, an essay about coming out and enjoying a promising career in writing.
She was the author of Angels With Blue Faces, an investigation into the murder of Ulster Unionist MP Robert Bradford at the hands of the IRA, which is shortly due for release.
Recently McKee had signed a two-book publishing deal with Faber & Faber, with a new book about the disappearances of Troubles-era children due for release in 2020.
Tributes paid to Lyra McKee
Representatives from all of Northern Ireland’s political parties appeared at the rally, including DUP leader Arlene Foster who said: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Catholic or a Protestant, or whether you identify as Irish or British, when people come out with guns to shoot people from their own community then we have to say enough is enough.”
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald took to the stage holding a rainbow flag.
“We stand here today to mark Lyra’s memory in the best way that we can, and that is to dedicate ourselves to peace,” she said.
McKee was “one of the most promising journalists” in Northern Ireland, according to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).
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Ireland’s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that she had “changed lives” through her work, and would continue to do so following her death.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that McKee “died doing her job with great courage,” adding that her murder was “shocking and senseless.”
Friends of the journalist have set up a fundraising page, which raised more than £30,000 in its first eight hours.
The funds will go McKee’s family, for funeral costs and “to decide her legacy.”
Lyra McKee killed during Derry riots
McKee died during riots which broke out after police began conducting searches for weapons and ammunition in Creggan.
Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said: “Lyra McKee was murdered during orchestrated violence.
“A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee. Officers quickly administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a Land Rover to hospital.
“Tragically she died from her injuries. At this stage we believe her murder was carried out by a violent dissident republican.”
Hamilton confirmed that police are treating her death as a “terrorist act.”