Belfast Telegraph

Lyra McKee's funeral to be 'celebration' of young life lost too soon

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Political and Church leaders will be among the mourners at the funeral of Lyra McKee in Belfast today.

The 29-year-old died after being shot in the head by the New IRA during rioting in Londonderry's Creggan estate last Thursday.

Her funeral service will be held at 1pm in St Anne's Cathedral.

The service will be led jointly by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, and Fr Martin Magill of St John's parish in west Belfast.

The funeral, described as a "celebration of her life", will be attended by political and faith leaders from across Northern Ireland.

Also in attendance will be Irish President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tanaiste and Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney and Irish Children's Minister Katherine Zappone.

They will join Lyra's partner Sara Canning (35) and family members including her mother Joan (68), sisters Nichola, Mary, Joan, brothers Gary and David, nieces and nephews and wider family circle.

Ms Canning and Lyra's friends asked that those attending the funeral wear Harry Potter or Marvel-related items to celebrate her life.

Her family has also invited members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to provide a guard of honour for her cortege.

Those taking part have been asked to wear their union badges.

Lyra will be laid to rest afterwards in a strictly private ceremony at Carnmoney Cemetery to be attended by close family and friends only.

Meanwhile, those who are unable to travel to Belfast for today's funeral will gather in Derry's Guildhall Square at 1pm to coincide with the funeral service.

At the same time NUJ vigils will be held at Buchanan Street Steps in Glasgow and at St Bride's Church on London's Fleet Street.

Books of condolence will also be available at the receptions in Headland House, the NUJ's London headquarters, and also in Dublin.

Last night, on the eve of the funeral, the NUJ held a vigil at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin city centre.

Hundreds of Ms McKee's NUJ colleagues gathered to celebrate the life of the activist and hear music by the Dublin gay and lesbian choir, Gloria.

Dr Grainne Healy, co-director of the Yes Equality Campaign read Ms McKee's 'Letter to my 14-year-old self'.

Excerpts from Ms McKee's many other works were read aloud as crowds stood in silence with Pride flags and left flowers and candles around pictures of Ms McKee.

The vigil was concluded by a minute's applause.

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