Belfast Telegraph

Friends of slain Lyra McKee 'honoured' to attend France commemoration

Crowds gather at the Reporters Memorial in Bayeux during the 26th Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Awards Of War Correspondents yesterday
Crowds gather at the Reporters Memorial in Bayeux during the 26th Bayeux Calvados-Normandy Awards Of War Correspondents yesterday
Lyra McKee

By Mairead Holland

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee have said they felt "deeply humbled and honoured" to attend a commemoration for her in France.

Niall O Murchu and Ciaran MacAirt represented the McKee family and Ms McKee's partner Sara at the ceremony in Bayeux in Normandy.

The Reporters Without Borders memorial site honours more than 2,000 journalists killed in the line of duty since 1944.

Ms McKee's mother Joan was too frail to make the journey, but a message from her sister Nichola was read aloud.

Also being remembered was Jamal Khashoggi, who was assassinated in the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul.

Ms McKee died after being shot by the New IRA as she observed rioting in Londonderry on April 18 this year.

Months beforehand the 29-year-old had secured a two-book deal with publisher Faber & Faber.

Her first book Angels With Blue Faces was published posthumously by Excalibur Press.

Mr O Murchu, who is also the McKee family's solicitor, told those assembled that Lyra was "an amazing young woman who was just beginning her journey in life".

The pair first met in 2014 when Ms McKee became involved with the cross-community Paper Trail project, of which Mr O Murchu is chairperson.

The project, which seeks to help victims and survivors of the Troubles, was founded by Mr MacAirt.

Mr O Murchu said it was a great privilege to talk about his gifted friend's "life and legacy".

He added in a speech: "I have thought about what she (Lyra) would say if she was able to join us here today.

"First of all, she would be very shy and embarrassed with all of the attention. Extremely humble, she just would not know what to say.

"Then, out of sight of everyone, she would start talking at a million miles an hour for at least an hour, excitedly telling us about all the amazing people she had met, how honoured and amazed she was to be spoken of by such an organisation ... and to be invited here. Most of all she would be proud... to be in such esteemed company."

Ms McKee's sister Nichola thanked the organisation for honouring her sister.

She said: "Lyra fell in love with journalism at the age of 16 and dedicated herself to giving a voice to those without a voice in our society and beyond through her writing."

The family plans to travel to the memorial in the summer.

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