| 2.8°C Belfast

Gail Walker: Lyra McKee was a 'prodigiously talented journalist, one of the brightest and best of her generation'


Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee

Lyra McKee

Journalist Lyra McKee was "one of the brightest and best of her generation", with a body of work that included ground-breaking research into suicide in Northern Ireland, the editor of the Belfast Telegraph said.

Ms McKee was a regular contributor to the newspaper, and editor Gail Walker described her as " prodigiously talented journalist".

She was shot dead last night during riots in Derry, while doing her job as a journalist.

The PSNI say they believe the New IRA are behind her death, and are seeking multiple suspects.

"We hoped we had seen the last of these atrocities among us. Instead, this morning Lyra McKee's name joins the long list of those whose lives were ended by gunmen who hadn’t a fraction of the humanity they extinguished," Ms Walker said.

"Lyra was a prodigiously talented journalist, one of the brightest and best of her generation, and I am so proud that she was a regular contributor to the Belfast Telegraph.

"Over the past few years, she wrote for this newspaper on a wide range of subjects, including her ground-breaking research into the number of suicides in Northern Ireland since the ceasefires as well as brave and insightful political and social comment.

"But Lyra was also adept when it came to writing copy about her own life - wonderful, instinctive prose that was at once both revealing, reflective and moving.

"She was an Editor's dream - Lyra always responded to calls or messages quickly, was always up for writing copy, always helped if you needed contacts, always rang in if she chanced across a story.

"As a friend, she was kind, caring and loyal - and great fun.

"It is deeply vexing that the last copy she filed for us was for a Valentine's Day feature, when she talked about the great happiness she had found with "the love of her life", the young woman with whom she recently moved to Londonderry to live with. On the professional front, too, as well as her journalism, she had signed a book deal with Faber & Faber.

"That Lyra should have been shot dead at a time of such joy, when life was just beginning to really come together for her, is the cruellest of ironies.

"The loss of such a journalistic talent is immense, but the loss of such a genuinely lovely, warm and empathic person is a huge and enduring heartbreak for her family and partner and my thoughts are with them all."

Suzanne Breen, Belfast Telegraph political editor, also paid tribute to Lyra, who she was close friends with.

She said: "One of my best friends, Lyra McKee, has been shot dead by republican dissidents in Derry. She was a gem of a journalist and human being. The most compassionate and sensitive person I’ve ever met. She cared about people and stories that nobody else did.

"At just 29, she’d signed a two book deal with Faber. You’d never have guessed it. A media rarity, she was totally without ego.

"Watching footage of the shooting is heart-breaking. I never thought I'd be writing this. They ended your precious life Lyra,

but we, who love you, will ensure your memory and work lives on."

Belfast Telegraph