Belfast Telegraph

Belfast to Derry walk a 'chance to carry Lyra McKee's voice'

A vigil held in Dublin yesterday for Lyra McKee
A vigil held in Dublin yesterday for Lyra McKee
NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley speaks at event
Crowd holds images of Lyra

By Gillian Halliday

Friends and loved-ones of Lyra McKee are to walk between Belfast and Londonderry in memory of the murdered journalist.

Lyra's Walk will take place over two days next month, starting in Belfast's Writers' Square on May 25 before travelling 68 miles on foot, finishing in the north west.

Organisers say they are staging the 'walk for peace' to "reclaim the Good Friday Agreement".

Yesterday, an organiser said that Ms McKee's death at the hands of dissident republicans must be the last to happen here. Details of the walk emerged as hundreds of people - including Northern Ireland's political and faith leaders - prepare to gather in St Anne's Cathedral for the 29-year-old's funeral today.

One of Ms McKee's friends, who asked not to be named, said the idea for the walk came from a group of people affected by the murder.

"The main purpose of the walk is to carry Lyra's voice, to reclaim the Good Friday Agreement.

"This should not have happened to Lyra," they said.

"Lyra took part in Hike for Hope walk from Derry to Belfast for suicide awareness not so long ago, so it's a reflection of that as well."

Describing Lyra as someone who was so full of life and vitality, the friend said her death must be the catalyst for change.

"(Her death) is personal to everyone. Everyone's been affected by this and something needs to be done in a peaceful way," they added.

"Lyra has to be the last. How many more people do we need to lose before this ends?"

They added that the event has been given the blessing of Ms McKee's family and partner, Sara Canning.

"This is our future, and all we're asking is that people dedicate one weekend to this. It won't be just a walk. There will be things like discussions as well," the friend added.

"This is to honour what she stood for. We believe in Lyra and what she believed in."

The organiser also said Lyra's Walk will be non-political, but added politicians could participate on a solely personal basis.

Public pressure is growing for politicians to restore devolution.

An online petition urging the parties to take their Stormont seats in honour of Ms McKee has gained over 6,500 signatures in 48 hours. The Change.org petition also calls for her death to have not been in vain.

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