Belfast Telegraph

Delight of Lyra’s family as murdered journalist honoured at gala ceremony

Lyra McKee’s mum Joan McKee with sister Nichola Corner at the event
Lyra McKee’s mum Joan McKee with sister Nichola Corner at the event
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

The sister of murdered journalist Lyra McKee pledged she would never be forgotten after collecting a posthumous accolade on her behalf.

Ms McKee was the recipient of the Journalists' Charity Award at the Society of Editors UK awards ceremony yesterday.

Her sister Nichola Corner received a standing ovation when she accepted the award on Lyra's behalf at Savoy Place in London.

Her mother Joan was also in attendance.

"Since Lyra was taken from us in the most horrific way, our family has said that her death should not be in vain and the ideals she held dearly are remembered," Nichola said.

"We have been deeply moved by the support we have received and are very thankful that Lyra's qualities as a person and as a committed journalist have been recognised with this special award."

The accolade was presented almost a month since the 29-year-old writer's killing by a gunman.

She was shot while observing street rioting in the Creggan area of Londonderry on April 18.

Dissident republican group the New IRA has admitted responsibility for her murder. Yesterday, the PSNI officer leading the investigation issued a direct appeal to the gunman responsible to hand himself in to police.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the investigation into her death remains "difficult and challenging".

Addressing the murderer directly via the BBC, he stressed the journalist's family and loved-ones deserve answers.

"Come and provide an explanation. Lyra McKee's family deserve an explanation for the events of that night and thus far not one single person has provided a direct explanation to Lyra's family," he said.

He continued that the community had been "incredibly supportive" to the investigation and consistent in its condemnation of the killing.

But he urged anyone with "information as to who the gunman is, where the gunman went, where the gun is or has been, to come forward and talk to me".

Since Ms McKee's death her work as a journalist has been widely shared on social media.

She was published in a wide variety of publications including Mosaic, Private Eye, BuzzFeed News and the Belfast Telegraph, as well as serving as editor for news website Mediagazer. In 2016 Forbes Magazine named her as one of its '30 under 30 in media'.

James Brindle, chief executive of the Journalists' Charity, said Ms McKee's death has been a huge loss to journalism. "What we learned about Lyra in the hours and days that followed her death showed all too clearly that we'd lost a journalist with very special qualities," he said.

"Lyra's courage in bearing witness to violence on the streets of Derry is the type of commitment that journalists admire and hope to possess themselves.

"In addition, she championed the under-represented, gave a voice to those who weren't being heard and held those in power to account. She reached out across the journalistic community to offer her support to people she didn't even know - changing lives with a hand of friendship."

Today Ms McKee's partner Sara Canning will address a marriage equality rally in Belfast, calling for Parliament to legislate for same-sex marriage here.

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