Belfast Telegraph

Irish President adds his name to book of condolence in Belfast

Irish President Michael D Higgins signing the book of condolence in Belfast
Irish President Michael D Higgins signing the book of condolence in Belfast
Journalist Darragh McIntyre with filmmaker Alison Millar at City Hall
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Friends and colleagues of Lyra McKee joined the Irish President and Lord Mayor of Belfast yesterday to sign a book of condolence in City Hall.

First citizen Deirdre Hargey opened proceedings in a show of unity with councillors from across the parties.

She said: "I think it was important today, in the city that Lyra came from, that this council shows unity, and in the city we show solidarity and the deepest sympathy.

"There's no place for this 21 years after the Good Friday Agreement and we all need to work at recommitting ourselves to building peace within our society."

As a large queue gathered, many of those waiting to express their sympathy spoke of their disbelief.

Filmmaker Alison Millar had known Ms McKee for 12 years and had been due to meet her for dinner with friends last night.

"She was just a beautiful, compassionate, honest, hard-working, spirited human being. Now she's just been stolen, murdered," she said.

"The support across the country today is unbelievable. It means everything to her partner Sara and family."

BBC reporter and friend Darragh McIntyre called her a "smart, wonderful woman".

"She was totally committed, resourceful and had a very beguiling approach to her work, which actually reminded me of Columbo," he said.

"She would skirt around the story but always get to the heart of it."

He added: "I'm pretty certain the gunman didn't intend to kill her, it's neither here nor there.

"You have this young woman who is killed, like so many others over the last 50 years, because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time over one cause or another.

"She's another sacrifice, it's savage."

Michael D Higgins embraced Ms Millar on his arrival at City Hall to offer his condolences over the tragedy.

"It was an outrageous act and I want on behalf of all of the people of Ireland to express our deepest sympathy to her partner Sara and her family and friends, and all of those who will have worked with her," he said.

"The circumstances in which it happened, the firing on the police force that are seeking to protect the peace process, cannot be condoned by anybody. Our hearts go out.

"A loss of a journalist at any time, in any part of the world, is an attack on the truth."

Marty Stevenson (45), chair of the Quire Belfast LGBT singers group and had known of Ms McKee through her work with the Rainbow Project.

She said: "She was very highly regarded and respected, it's just a sad day.

"A girl doing what she loved in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"I think it's hugely important for people to send a message in Belfast today."

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