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Lyra McKee funeral: Politicians and loved ones pay tribute to late journalist

Reiss Smith April 24, 2019
Pallbearers carry the coffin of journalist Lyra McKee

Pallbearers carry the coffin of journalist Lyra McKee. (PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images)

Lyra McKee’s friends and family have paid tribute to the late journalist at her funeral in Belfast’s St Anne’s Cathedral.

Huge crowds lined the streets of Belfast ahead of the service, which began at 1pm on Wednesday (April 24).

The hearse carrying McKee’s coffin was topped with flowers bearing the colours of the rainbow flag. Upon its arrival at St Anne’s, applause broke out among the crowd which had gathered in front of the cathedral.

Dean Stephen Forde opened the service, and said: “Lyra was a person who broke down barriers and reached across boundaries, this was her hallmark in life, this is her legacy in death.

“As a journalist she pursued truth wherever it took her, never content with the sullen silence of unanswered questions.”

The hearse carrying Lyra McKee's coffin
The hearse carrying Lyra McKee’s coffin. (Twitter)

Her sister Nichola Corner called the 29-year-old “an inspiration to many people.”

“Her whole life story speaks of rising above or pushing against external challenges,” she said.

Leo Varadkar, Theresa May and Michael D Higgins stand in the front pew at Lyra McKee's funeral.
Leo Varadkar, Theresa May and Michael D Higgins stand in the front pew at Lyra McKee’s funeral. (BRIAN LAWLESS/AFP/Getty)

“Within each of us we have the power to create the kind of society Lyra envisioned.

“One where labels are meaningless, one where every single person is valued, one where every single child gets the chance to grow up and to make their dreams come true.

“Her whole life story speaks of rising above external challenges.”

—Nichola Corner, Lyra McKee’s sister

“This is Lyra’s legacy that we must carry forward.”

To a standing ovation, she finished by saying: “In the words of Lyra herself: ‘We must change our own world one piece at a time.’ Now let’s get to work.”

Lyra McKee had planned to propose to partner Sara Canning

Stephen Lustry, a friend of McKee’s, said that her death had “left many holes—journalism, technology, all the communities that she was part of, her friends, and above all her beloved family and [her partner] Sara Canning.”

He noted that she had planned to propose to Canning during an upcoming trip to New York, Sky News’ David Mercer tweeted.

Leo Varadkar, Theresa May and Michael D Higgins sit together in St Anne’s Cathedral.
Leo Varadkar, Theresa May and Michael D Higgins sit together in St Anne’s Cathedral. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty)

The service brought together politicians from disparate factions.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald attended along with DUP leader Arlene Foster, while British Prime Minister Theresa May sat between Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish President Michael D Higgins.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also attended. Both he and May were absent from this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions in order to make the service.

Jeremy Corbyn and Irish Republican Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald attend the funeral service of journalist Lyra McKee.
Jeremy Corbyn and Irish Republican Sinn Fein party leader Mary Lou McDonald attend the funeral service of journalist Lyra McKee. (BRIAN LAWLESS/AFP/Getty)

McKee was shot dead on while observing riots in Derry, Northern Ireland, on April 18.

She was a promising young journalist who had recently completed a book about the disappearances of Troubles-era children.

Described as a “a tireless advocate and activist,” by Canning, she first rose to prominence after writing an essay to her teenage self about being gay.

More: Europe, Ireland, Ireland, Jeremy Corbyn, Lyra McKee, Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

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