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Family delivers message of love in moving tribute

The grieving family of Lyra McKee have described her as "a friend to all" and "a gentle, innocent soul".

Ahead of her funeral today relatives paid a moving tribute to the young woman, who they said was a "beautiful" person with a warm heart.

The statement from her mother Joan, brothers Gary and David, and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan, said her life should be an example to all.

Lyra (29) was killed after being shot as trouble flared in the Creggan estate last Thursday night.

Her funeral will be held at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast this afternoon.

The family said last night: "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 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."

Relatives said they took comfort from the outpouring of support and love seen in recent days.

They added: "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."

The family made the statement also on behalf of their spouses, and nieces and nephews of Ms McKee (29).

A 57-year-old woman arrested yesterday morning by detectives investigating the murder was later released unconditionally.

Detectives from the PSNI's Major Investigation Team are continuing to appeal for help from the local community in Creggan or anyone else with information.

Two men aged 18 and 19 were initially arrested in connection with the killing but were later released without charge.

Detectives have said the investigation into the killing is continuing at a "rapid pace".

Yesterday two of Ms McKee's friends called on political leaders here to "come together" and break the ongoing Stormont impasse. Kathleen Bradley and Sinead Quinn said they will continue her fight for truth and justice, including marriage equality.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald were among the political and religious leaders who came together at a vigil in the Creggan on Friday afternoon, hours after Lyra's killing.

Ms Quinn said real attempts are needed to restore the Stormont institutions.

"I believe at this stage, more than being united in Creggan, that there are talks going on in the background, even informal," she added.

"While it was wonderful to see the politicians come together for a few moments in Creggan, it's time for them to come together on the bigger issues.

"It's time they came together and realised that as a population we deserve a lot more because that's what Lyra would have wanted.

"She would have been glad to see them standing there and proud to know that her horrendously disgusting death led to that moment.

"However, she would have also been saying: 'Right guys, what's next?'

"And that's our message to our politicians now, too."

Belfast Telegraph