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Partner of Lyra McKee ‘heartbroken’ she didn’t live to see same-sex marriage vote

Emma Powys Maurice July 10, 2019

Lyra McKee's partner, Sara Canning (Channel 4 News)

The partner of murdered Irish journalist Lyra McKee says she’s “heartbroken” that Lyra isn’t around to see MPs vote for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The gay journalist was shot and killed while reporting on riots in Derry on April 18.  Four men were arrested for her murder, which was labelled a terrorist incident.

As MPs took a significant step towards passing marriage equality in Northern Ireland on Tuesday (July 9), Lyra’s partner Sara Canning spoke to Channel 4 News about reaching this incredible milestone without Lyra at her side.

“It’s absolutely momentous,” she said. “I am torn between being absolutely over the moon for my friends who will be able to — hopefully, should this pass down the line in October — be able to marry their partners and feel like an equal part of society.

“I’m also heartbroken because the person I wanted to marry isn’t here to see it happen, and I know it was something that Lyra was very, very passionate about.”

Canning added: “She went to the marriage equality marches and she was excited about the future, and about seeing it pass in Northern Ireland.”

Same-sex marriage proposed as “Lyra’s legacy”

It was revealed at Lyra’s funeral on April 24 that she was planning to propose to Canning.

In the wake of her death, politicians and friends of Lyra suggested introducing same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland as her legacy.

Canning even made a personal plea to Prime Minister Theresa May. She said: “If the politicians won’t legislate for equal marriage at Stormont, then the Prime Minister should do it at Westminster. That’s what I told Theresa May at Lyra’s funeral.

“I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country. Surely that’s not too much to ask?”

Same-sex marriage could be legal in Northern Ireland after October 21

Although the move towards marriage equality comes tragically too late for Lyra, Northern Ireland’s LGBT+ community are filled with hope that the amendment will be passed.

However, the clause will require secondary legislation and will only come into force if power-sharing talks fail to restore devolution by October 21. Should the Stormont executive become functional by this deadline, the amendment will become void.

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