Belfast Telegraph

Taking the long road to lasting peace in memory of Lyra McKee

 

The walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee heading down the Glenshane Pass towards Dungiven yesterday
The walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee heading down the Glenshane Pass towards Dungiven yesterday
Around 400 people who set off from Belfast will finish in Londonderry today
Around 400 people who set off from Belfast will finish in Londonderry today
From left: Robin Stewart and Stuart Bailie are among those walking
From left: Elaine Elborn and Maggie Dunlop are among those walking
Medical help: Anne Allen
Sore legs: John Duddy
Lyra McKee
Leona O'Neill

By Leona O'Neill

Their feet may be sore and their bones weary, but their hearts are strong and their resolve is concrete.

A steely determination could be found among the group of people aged between two and 70 who reached Dungiven yesterday, many of whom had already walked more than 50 miles for peace.

They are walking for Lyra McKee, the journalist murdered on a Creggan street last month.

They are walking for a better future for their children, some of whom have been pounding the pavements between Belfast and Londonderry alongside them.

They are marching to put pressure on politicians to stop the downward spiral of lawlessness that seems to have gripped Northern Ireland.

They are marching for an end to the violence.

Holding banners bearing Lyra's name, calling for a rebooting of the Good Friday Agreement and the #NotInMyName slogan, they powered in their dozens over the unforgiving Glenshane Pass and into Dungiven, where they were met with cheers from locals before retiring to St Canice's GAC for warm soup and a much-anticipated sit down.

Wrapping her blistered feet was west Belfast social worker Susan Curran, whose idea sparked the walk.

"The thought occurred to me the night after Lyra had been killed," she said.

"It came really from a conversation among friends, in the annoyance of what happened and the fear of going back to this.

"There was just something about this young woman, killed doing her day's work so barbarically.

"I have three children - a 20-year-old, an 18-year-old and a nine-year-old - and things just felt really depressing and bleak.

"It was just in that day, in that hopelessness and bleakness, that I thought I wanted to do something.

"I thought, I have my legs and I have my shoes, I might just walk to Derry and my friend said 'I'll go with you', and then another friend said 'I'll go too' and it really spiralled from there."

Belfast man Conall McCrory was one of Lyra's friends.

"For me this is about keeping Lyra's name alive," he said. "Lyra wasn't finished and it's about keeping that legacy going. We are not finished either, we will keep going after this.

A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins in Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins in Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Left to right. Georgia(11), Enola(6), Adelaide(6) and Lexie(12) from Crumlin pictured before the march starts. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th May 2019 A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins from Belfast this morning and will finish in Derry on Monday. Around 400 people set off from WriterÕs Square for the walk to Derry in memory of the 29-year-old, who was killed last month as she observed rioting in Derry. The three-day hike will conclude in the Guildhall Square in Derry on Monday, by which time the number of walkers is expected to have swelled to around 700. The event will culminate in a two-hour concert, including a performance by Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. LyraÕs sister Nicola will also address those assembled. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A walk in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begins in Belfast. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

"I think it's also very symbolic what we are doing, walking from Belfast to Derry. It's symbolic of the peace walks that happened 50 years ago this year. I'm very of the mind that this is our generation's peace walk."

Seimi MacAindresy from Andersonstown said that he had felt compelled to walk because of "another young, talented life gone too soon".

Young and old have come together to walk in Lyra's name.

Eleven-year-old CBS pupil John Duddy said he wanted to walk for peace for his generation.

"I am here with my family," he said. "This is a walk for peace. There was a young girl called Lyra who was murdered and this whole walk is for peace. My legs are sore but I am happy to take part."

Former Northern Ireland soccer international Maggie Dunlop (69) said she wanted to join the walk to show solidarity with those who want a peaceful future.

"Lyra was a wonderful young woman who wasn't given the chance to blossom properly into adulthood," she says. "As a former teacher, that affects me.

"I am also a lesbian and we are a strong, supportive community. I was so moved by the walk and wanted to take part. This just feels so important."

Former nurse Anne Allen (70) from east Belfast is walking and then helping to deal with blisters and sprains in the campsite in the evenings.

"There is such a wide variety of people here from all walks of life, and a few not even from Northern Ireland. Lyra is at the forefront of everyone's minds," she said.

Eileen Weir from the Shankill Women's Centre said she "had to" walk for Lyra and for peace.

"I can't go on the walk myself," she said. "But I have manned the water and comfort points along the route, making sure everyone is okay."

BBC Radio Ulster presenter Stuart Baillie said he was moved to walk because of his daughters.

"I have three daughters, one of them close enough to Lyra's age," he said. "And just watching your daughters reaching that brilliant potential in their 20s and in the case of Lyra McKee it has ended, it's gone.

"And I was heartbroken to hear that. I just felt that I should be on the road and along with all these other people."

East Belfast man Robin Stewart was part of the PUP Good Friday Agreement negotiating team. He said he is walking for hope.

"The promises of the Good Friday Agreement did not materialise and weren't delivered on and in fact it has been people within the community who have been left to keep the peace," he said.

"The community has had to take control of the peace process. And the only reason we have a peace process is because people like the organisers of this walk have stood up and said enough is enough, we do deserve better, our children deserve better."

The walk will conclude today in Derry's Guildhall Square at 4.30pm.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph