Belfast Telegraph

Over 1,000 pack into Londonderry’s Guildhall Square to sing for peace

The crowd in Guildhall Square for the Sing for Peace event
The crowd in Guildhall Square for the Sing for Peace event
Lyra McKee’s partner Sara Canning
Dr Nicola Herron
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

More than 1,000 people stood in Londonderry's Guildhall Square singing for peace last night in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

The Sing for Peace rally brought together all sides of the community for a communal sing-a-long of poignant tunes such as Give Peace A Chance, Bridge Over Troubled Water and We Shall Overcome.

Lyra was murdered on Easter Thursday by a New IRA gunman who opened fire during a riot in the Creggan estate.

Her partner Sara Canning was among those who attended last night's rally.

She stood linking arms with heartbroken friends as the songs were performed on the steps of the civic building.

Richard Moore, who was blinded by a plastic bullet more than four decades ago, urged politicians to come together and work for peace before joining the crowd in a rendition of We Shall Overcome.

Presbyterian minister Rev David Latimer and John Hume's wife Pat also urged politicians to get back to building peace.

Singer Conor McGinty sang his new peace anthem Moving On (No Going Back) and Donna Taggart reduced many of the crowd to tears with her song Jealous of the Angels.

Organiser Dr Nicola Herron said she was inspired to put the event together after crying over Ms McKee's tragic death.

"I felt we needed to start a movement for peace," she explained.

"We all felt peace was a passive thing, something that someone else looked after with peace agreements and accords and Stormont.

"We thought it was a done deal and we sat back and ignored the signs that the cracks were getting bigger and that violence was seeping into that vacuum.

"I felt as a society we needed to step up.

"This is a city of music, one where people love people.

"It doesn't make sense to us to be known as a city where people kill people.

"It was lovely tonight to look out and see everyone coming together in song and love."

Fellow organiser Tommy Murphy said the rally was "an expression from people's hearts that they want political violence to stop".

He said: "There is no need for it and no reason for it. No one else should have to die as a result of political violence.

"Lyra represented so much about what is good about young people and about creating a new future.

"People shouldn't be dying needlessly anymore.

"This can't be happening. There has to be a better way."

Kathleen Bradley, a friend of Lyra's who also attended the event, said she felt her spirit there with them.

"This was just wonderful," she said.

"It made my heart swell to think of so many people coming together.

"It was a beautiful event and we felt Lyra here, particularly during Donna Taggart's song.

"It was very emotional for us, but this was a very positive event.

"We are all still very much in shock and it is hitting us at different times.

"But in Lyra's own words, it will get better - we just need to keep going."

After the event, crowds of people queued to get into the Guildhall to sign Rev Latimer's 'people's pledge' to urge politicians to start talking again.

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