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Tributes as Lyra McKee's mum dies weeks before the first anniversary of her daughter's New IRA murder

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Lyra McKee and her mother Joan

Lyra McKee and her mother Joan

Joan with daughter Nichola

Joan with daughter Nichola

Lyra McKee and her mother Joan

Leaders from across the political divide have united to pay tribute to the mother of murdered journalist Lyra McKee, and some laid the blame for her death with the New IRA.

Joan Lawrie died peacefully in hospital surrounded by her family on Tuesday night. Lyra had been the main carer for her disabled mum.

The mother-of-six passed away just weeks before the first anniversary of her daughter's murder.

Joan's health deteriorated further after the death of her youngest child.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead by a dissident republican gunman in Londonderry on April 18.

Justice Minister and Alliance leader Naomi Long said: "My deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of Joan and I am dreadfully sorry for their loss.

"Joan and other members of her family lived with their bereavement and pain since the day Lyra died.

"Those who so callously murdered Lyra are ultimately responsible for another life being lost, this time as a result of the heartbreak they caused."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "This is heartbreaking news. Joan should never have had to suffer the loss of Lyra.

"I would appeal again to anyone with information about Lyra's murder who has not yet come forward to bring it to the police.

"This family has been torn apart by a horrific crime and they deserve justice."

Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken said: "This is another terrible blow to the whole McKee family. They have been caused untold and unwarranted suffering by criminals. It is well past time for those who stole Lyra's life away as a daughter, sister, aunt and partner to stop causing more pain and tragedy."

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "No pain can compare to that felt by Lyra's family and particularly her mother in having her young daughter taken.

"I did not have the privilege of meeting Joan, but I know she will have carried that pain until her own sad passing.

"I hope the family can take some comfort from knowing that Joan's pain has now ended, but that her memory and the memories of Lyra will remain alive with many, many people from all backgrounds across Northern Ireland."

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said: "Joan Lawrie was a mother who raised a beautiful family.

"They were her world and last April that world was turned upside down with the brutal murder of Joan's daughter, Lyra McKee. I met Joan alongside President Higgins, the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister in the side chapel of St Anne's Cathedral and she told us all she had 'lost her baby'.

"It is a moment I will never forget. All of our hearts broke for an innocent young woman and her innocent mother and family."

Joan's daughter Nichola McKee Corner announced her mother's death in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"It is with the greatest sadness that I share this. My mother, Joan Lawrie, passed away peacefully in hospital on 10th March.

"She is now at peace with her beloved daughter Lyra McKee."

Nichola rounded on the New IRA whom she blamed for Joan's death.

"The b******* who murdered my baby sister should also be tried for the murder of my mother - they killed her the day they killed her precious baby girl," she said.

"Mom, give our darling Lyra a huge hug and a million kisses from us. Love you both forever and always. My heart is comforted knowing that you are together again. Always in my heart. Love you Mom xoxoxoxo."

In a statement issued through their solicitor, Niall O'Murchu, the McKees appealed to the media "to respect and honour their deep grief and request privacy at this time".

Joan is survived by her children Gary, Joan, Nichola, David and Mary. Her funeral will remain private.

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