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JK Rowling pays tribute to 'talented, deeply loved' Lyra McKee

The pair had formed a friendship through social media

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has paid tribute to "deeply loved" journalist Lyra McKee, with whom she had formed a friendship through social media.

Ms Rowling said she felt "ice-cold shock" when she heard of the death of the 29-year-old, who was shot in the Creggan area of Londonderry a year ago this weekend by dissident republican group the New IRA while observing clashes with police.

"I never met Lyra face-to-face, but we used to chat a lot... mostly about politics and writing," the author of the world-famous series said.

"I'll never forget the ice cold shock of thinking I'd heard her name on the news and dashing to turn up the volume, telling myself 'it can't be her', even though I knew it must be.

"She was such a talent and so deeply loved, as was proven by the outpouring after her death. I'm thinking of her partner, her family and friends right now and sending love," she said, posting on Twitter.

"Anniversaries of loss are always hard, but I think the first is the worst."

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Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) this week joined “in solidarity and remembrance” to mark the first anniversary of Ms McKee's murder.

The NUJ said the commemoration is to celebrate the journalist’s life and legacy.

Colleagues and friends used the hashtag #WeStandWithLyra on social media to pay tribute.

It comes as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) issued a fresh appeal for information into her death, offering anonymity to anyone who can help to catch the killer.

The PSNI has sent letters to those living close to where she was killed urging them to take any new information to detectives.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: “While this appeal for information is being distributed by the police, it is also a direct appeal from the McKee family for help in getting justice for Lyra.”

In the letter, Mr Murphy asks for mobile phone footage or photographs from the night, as well as requesting to speak to anyone who was present and can identify those involved in the disorder and has first-hand evidence relating to the events before or after the murder.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “Lyra was a journalist who represented the best of Northern Ireland with a future ahead that reflected her optimism, her confidence, her ambition and her strong sense of social justice and commitment to equality.

“As we remember Lyra today, and think of her partner and family, we also think of journalists elsewhere who put their lives on the line when they get up and go to work each day.

“The greatest tribute we can pay Lyra is to find ways to encourage and promote the kind of imaginative, insightful and brave journalism for which she will be remembered.”

Seamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said: “Lyra had an unrivalled zest for life and for living.

“That is what makes her senseless killing so cruel. In her journalism she combined her passion for journalism with a deep commitment to social change.

“In her writings, in her approach to issues of poverty, equality and exclusion, Lyra was not afraid to ask the difficult question, to challenge the conventional and accepted wisdoms and to look for new and imaginative solutions to problems. That’s her legacy.

“What marked Lyra apart was her optimism, her unfailing good humour and her refusal to become cynical while fearlessly questioning the status quo.

“Like Martin O’Hagan, Lyra did not ask for the crown of martyrdom. On her first anniversary it is important that we celebrate the legacy of a woman of imagination, humour and enormous talent.

“My thoughts are with Lyra’s partner, family and colleagues for whom her spirit remains an abiding presence.”

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