Belfast Telegraph

Church leaders voice their deep outrage

Bishop Ken Good (left) and Bishop Donal McKeown at the vigil in Creggan
Bishop Ken Good (left) and Bishop Donal McKeown at the vigil in Creggan
Alf McCreary

By Alf McCreary

The two bishops of Derry and other church leaders across the board have condemned in the strongest terms the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Church of Ireland bishop the Rt Rev Ken Good said he was "outraged" by the murder and expressed his sympathy with Lyra's partner, family and friends.

He said that her "needless death was not entirely unforeseeable" and he had warned after the dissident bomb attack in Londonderry in January that "the perpetrators had a callous disregard for people's lives".

The bishop said that those who pulled the trigger and others who sanctioned the attack had Ms McKee's "blood on their hands".

"They claim to be liberators of the community but in reality they are its oppressors," he added.

"It beggars belief that anyone would open fire in a built-up area like Creggan at a time when there were many people on the streets.

"We are fortunate that more people were not killed or injured.

"This city and our community are numbed and horrified by what has happened.

"We stand poised between bleakness and hope. The time has come to choose.

"I urge the people of this city to go forward with hope, to turn their backs on the men of violence and to assist the PSNI with their investigations."

The Catholic bishop Donal McKeown also sent his condolences to Ms McKee's family and friends and urged people to stand together against violence.

"I have confidence that the wider community will come together to make clear our conviction that violence solves nothing.

"Last July this city of Derry stood together against those who sought to engender conflict.

"I repeat my call from the Unity of Purpose rally on Fahan Street that destruction and aggression end up damaging the very communities that some people claim to be defending.

"You cannot claim to love your country and at the same time cause death and pain to the people who live here.

"All who live here deserve to be cherished equally. The spirit of coming together against violence has brought us a long way in the last 20 years."

Presbyterian Moderator the Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullen said that Lyra's murder was "totally appalling and unjustifiable".

Also offering his sympathy to her friends and family, he said it was a tragic day for Londonderry and for society as a whole.

He added: "What happened last night was rooted in a past that has absolutely no place in the present or future."

He said it was an act by "those who have nothing to offer anyone".

The Moderator also praised the "selflessness" of the police, adding: "Last night was yet another example of the debt we owe them in the face of needless rioting."

The Methodist president the Reverend Billy Davison also condemned Ms McKee's murder and sent his sympathy to her family and loved ones.

"This murder comes to a city which has had more than its share of such killings and brings into stark contrast the relative peace which most young people have enjoyed since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

This was last night echoed by Revd David Latimer of First Derry Presbyterian, who said: "All of us, Catholic, Protestant and dissenter owe it to Lyra to bring about the change she wanted to see.

"It's heartening to hear our political leaders condemn in unison the fatal shooting of Lyra.

"Don't stop with words.

"Please follow through by choosing to travel through the gates of Stormont."

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