'A gentle, innocent soul who wouldn't wish ill on anyone' - Lyra McKee's family pay tribute
The family of murdered journalist Lyra McKee have paid tribute to her, saying she was "a gentle, innocent soul who wouldn't wish ill on anyone".
The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead as she observed rioting in the Creggan estate in Londonderry last Thursday.
Dissident republican group the New IRA has claimed responsibility for her murder.
A tribute from her mother Joan, brothers Gary and David, and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan said: "On Thursday April 18 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 friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn't wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone.
"She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed in 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."
The statement, issued through Kinnear & Co solicitors, continued: "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.
"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.
"We are a private family and would ask as a family that our privacy is respected at this impossibly difficult time. We will, in time, speak to you all, but need space and time in the coming days and weeks to deal with the trauma of Lyra's sudden tragic death."
Lyra McKee's funeral service will be held at 1pm in St Anne's Cathedral on Donegall Street in Belfast on Wednesday, followed by burial in Carnmoney Cemetery.
Police say the investigation into the killing is continuing at a "rapid pace".
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said more than 140 people had contacted officers with information, adding: "This was an attack on the community. Lyra, tragically, was a random victim and I need the public to continue to support us.
"Many witnesses have contacted us to give us information that has been provided to them.
"More than 140 people have contacted us via our MIPP (Major Incident Public Portal) with messages, including mobile phone footage."
Mr Murphy appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.