Belfast Telegraph

Let her legacy be peace, says friend

Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

A friend of Lyra McKee told mourners that her lasting legacy should be peace.

Stephen Lusty made the plea in an emotional address, where he said our society had been robbed of a future stateswoman.

He told mourners: "We have two choices: we can look into the holes and wait forever... or we can fill those holes today.

"Today we grieve but tomorrow let us fill that hole by adopting Lyra's future and vision."

Mr Lusty recalled how Lyra had been planning to propose to her partner Sara Canning on a trip to New York next month.

He described how she had shown him pictures of the engagement ring she had picked out for Sara just hours before she was murdered.

Lyra, he added, had made him put a wedding date for "Donegal in 2022" in his diary and that she wanted him to wear his kilt to the ceremony.

"She gave me strict instructions to wear my kilt, which she always wanted to borrow, adorn it with some Harry Potter, and to find or refind my own version of Sara," he added.

He told mourners that Lara's "starlight" filled the cathedral and he praised her as smart, kind and compassionate.

He said she was fearless and naive in her early days.

He added that Lyra had supported him through a dark time in his own , when he was scared, lonely and isolated.

Mr Lustry said Lyra was a "new age punk", the embodiment of Alternative Ulster, one of Belfast band Stiff Little Fingers' best known songs.

"She embodied the future of finding commonality, enjoying difference in others," he said.

He told the congregation that, 40 years after the song's release, her loss showed what it took to live in an Alternative Ulster.

We had, he said, been robbed of a talent destined to become a stateswoman, with only holes left behind.

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