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Editor's Viewpoint

Some bullets never stopped travelling

Editor's Viewpoint


Joan with daughter Nichola

Joan with daughter Nichola

Joan with daughter Nichola

In 1992, teenager James Kennedy was among the five people shot dead in a bookmaker's shop in Belfast. Two years later, his mother died and his father blamed her death on the murderous sectarian attack. He said: "The bullets that killed James didn't just travel in distance, they travelled in time. Some of the bullets never stopped travelling."

It was just such a bullet that killed Joan Lawrie, the mother of journalist Lyra McKee shot dead by the New IRA during rioting in Londonderry. The shockwaves from the shot that killed Lyra kept travelling in time until they dealt a mortal blow to the spirit of her mum.

Mrs Lawrie, as another of her daughters said, was as surely a victim of the New IRA as Lyra. No one could ever be charged with killing her, but the death of Lyra broke her heart. It is impossible for those of us outside that family to know the unending sorrow that Lyra's mum felt since that terrible, devastating night when she was told her daughter had been shot and subsequently died.

To the terrorists, she may be dismissed as collateral damage just like so many others bereaved by the horror of terrorism, but as First Minister Arlene Foster - one of the politicians from across the island and the political divide who expressed sorrow at Mrs Lawrie's passing - said, both mother and daughter will be fondly remembered by a wide number of people.

Now the family have to bury another member, a beloved mother. She and Lyra were especially close but their deaths will leave a gaping void in that household.

And so it is in hundreds, even thousands, of other households where the bereaved of the Troubles still feel the pain of loss. They have learned to live with the absence of loved ones cruelly wrenched from them by terrorists but they have never got over the loss.

Their pain has been sharpened by the failure of politicians to grasp the nettle that is dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. It is not an easy problem to solve to everyone's satisfaction but it is one which has been kicked into the long grass time after time.

There have been promises that new legislation to deal with legacy issues would be introduced shortly at Westminster but the bereaved have still to be convinced.

Meanwhile, the family of Joan and Lyra will mourn their loss and pray that no others will have to suffer similar trauma seeing the lives of loved one ended prematurely.

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