Tuesday 17 September 2019

'Agony of the Cross': Church leaders condemn 'cruel and pointless' killing of journalist

Strong message: The landmark Free Derry Corner has been altered in protest at Lyra McKee’s death. Photo: PA
Strong message: The landmark Free Derry Corner has been altered in protest at Lyra McKee’s death. Photo: PA

Sarah MacDonald

Church leaders across Ireland prayed for slain journalist Lyra McKee in their Easter liturgies, describing her killing as a "terrifying expression of hatred and violence".

At Easter Sunday Mass in St Patrick and St Colman's Cathedral in Newry, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin said he was "praying in particular for the loved ones and colleagues of the talented young journalist" for whom "the agony of the Cross is very real".

He said Ms McKee's life had been "cruelly and pointlessly ended by violence" and appealed to people to be comforters who "work for the restoration of hope in society" and "reconcilers and peacemakers".

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin described the killing of the young journalist as a "terrifying expression of hatred and violence".

Out of an "act of evil" he said something deeper can emerge such as the "unanimous rejection of evil as the basis for a future".

"We have witnessed a coming together of people of very different political perspectives in favour of working for the good," Dr Martin said.

At the close of Easter Sunday Mass in Dublin's Pro Cathedral, he asked the congregation to pray for "that terrible disaster in Sri Lanka" and to "pray for our own country, that violence doesn't emerge again at this time after so much effort, and so much prayer, so much commitment to peace".

On Good Friday, Dr Martin expressed shock at the killing of Ms McKee and regret the institutions in Northern Ireland "are not fully working" as this was "the sort of moment when we need leaders on both sides to come together".

Revulsion

Meanwhile, the landmark Free Derry Corner has been marked by graffiti to reflect the revulsion felt at the killing of Ms McKee.

The famous civil rights-era slogan on a gable wall is regularly altered to reflect community sentiment in the Bogside.

A message on the wall said "Not in our name, RIP Lyra" with a heart painted beside it.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown said the nationalist community needs to be liberated from Saoradh, the republican group which issued a statement absolving the "IRA volunteer" who shot Ms McKee. "The one liberation they require in that community is liberation from Saoradh," he said.

Earlier he had addressed parishioners at Derry's St Columba's Church, Long Tower, noting the church lay "just yards from the house where the murdered journalist Lyra McKee and Sara Canning had decided to make their home".

Irish Independent

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