Friday 24 May 2019

Theresa May to join Taoiseach and President Higgins at Lyra McKee funeral

Murdered journalist Lyra McKee. Photo: PSNI/PA
Murdered journalist Lyra McKee. Photo: PSNI/PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

UK Prime Minister Theresa May will attend the funeral of Lyra McKee in Belfast today, Downing Street have confirmed.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins are also due to attend the young journalist's funeral this afternoon.

In a statement issued last night, Ms McKee's mother Joan, brothers Gary and David and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan called on people to continue the 29-year-old's message of hope.

Ms McKee was shot dead during violent scenes in the Creggan estate in Derry last Thursday.

In the statement, released by Kinnear & Co solicitors, the family said: "On Thursday 18th April our beautiful Lyra was taken from us.

"A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us.

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to the Free Derry Corner. Photo: Joe Boland/PA Wire
A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to the Free Derry Corner. Photo: Joe Boland/PA Wire

"A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn't wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart.

"She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth.

"Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none. This openness, and her desire to bring people together, made her totally apolitical.

"We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and love we have witnessed this past few days. It has been of immense solace that Lyra meant so much to so many.

Vigil: RTÉ reporter Juliette Gash and other members of the media attend an eve-of-funeral vigil for murdered journalist Lyra McKee in Parnell Square East yesterday. Photo: RollingNews.ie
Vigil: RTÉ reporter Juliette Gash and other members of the media attend an eve-of-funeral vigil for murdered journalist Lyra McKee in Parnell Square East yesterday. Photo: RollingNews.ie

"We ask everyone who knew Lyra to continue her message of positivity and hope, by respecting her memory with dignity and respect.

"We as a family know that the whole community has been touched by the events of Thursday night and that many are rightly angry.

"However, we would ask that Lyra's life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together.

"Lyra's answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness."

Dissident republican group the New IRA on Monday accepted responsibility for her murder.

In a statement given to 'The Irish News' using a recognised code word, the New IRA offered "full and sincere apologies" to her family and friends.

The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.

The New IRA statement said: "We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.

"In the course of attacking the enemy, Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces.

"The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."

The New IRA was responsible for a car bomb outside a courthouse in Bishop Street, Derry.

The PSNI said yesterday a woman (57) had been arrested in connection with Ms McKee's murder. On Sunday, two teens aged 18 and 19 arrested in connection with the murder were released without charge.

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