Belfast Telegraph

Journalism world pays tribute to 'bright light'

NUJ's Michelle Stanistreet
NUJ's Michelle Stanistreet
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International
Ian Murray of the Society of Editors

By Michael McHugh

Lyra McKee was a person of courage and integrity, colleagues from the world of journalism said.

The Belfast-born writer (29) had a promising career ahead of her, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) added.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, extended sympathies to Lyra's family.

She said: "A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence.

"Our thoughts are with her partner, family and many friends and colleagues. A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness."

For many people, their first introduction to her work was her piece about growing up gay in Belfast - Letter to my 14-year-old self - which was subsequently turned into a powerful short film, the union said.

Angels With Blue Faces, a non-fiction book about the Troubles murder of South Belfast MP Rev Robert Bradford, was released in 2018.

Faber is due to publish her book The Lost Boys in 2020.

Seamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said: "Lyra McKee was a journalist of courage, style and integrity.

"She was a woman of great commitment and passion.

"I have no doubt that it was that commitment which led to her presence on the streets of the Creggan last night, observing a riot situation in the city."

Lyra had worked for the Belfast Telegraph newspaper as well as a range of other publications.

Amnesty International said it was "utterly devastated" by the death of Ms McKee, who was to appear at one of its events in Belfast next month on the dangers of reporting violent conflicts.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said: "Lyra was a great young journalist, whose commitment to truth was absolute and whose laughter could light up a room.

"Lyra McKee was one of those courageous seekers after truth, with a life ahead of her and so much to give. Our thoughts are with Lyra's partner, her family and many friends."

The Society of Editors also added its voice to those condemning the shooting.

Ian Murray, the society's executive director, said: "Lyra was a tremendous talent and the journalistic world has lost one of its bright hopes for the future.

"The death of anyone under such circumstances is to be roundly condemned, but for those of us working in the media it is terrible to lose such a fantastic colleague."

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based independent non-profit organisation that promotes press freedom, also extended its condolences.

CPJ's Europe and Central Asia programme co-ordinator Gulnoza Said added: "We call on the authorities in Northern Ireland to act swiftly to identify those responsible for the killing of Lyra McKee and bring them to justice.

"Every day, all around the world, journalists put their lives at risk when they bear witness to unrest and conflict."

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