Belfast Telegraph

Martin Dillon: We need a Lyra McKee Law to penalise those who demonstrate or advocate for any organisation whose goal is to effect political change through violence

A car is set alight in the Creggan area of Derry last Thursday, the night Lyra McKee was shot dead
A car is set alight in the Creggan area of Derry last Thursday, the night Lyra McKee was shot dead

By Martin Dillon

The murder of young Lyra McKee strikes deep at the core of our society, calling all of us to respond, not with the 'gotcha' politics of revenge, but with a cry from our better angels for the gentleness and devotion to integrity this young women epitomised in her public and private personae.

The cult of the gunman was a topic that fascinated her because she was working on a book called The Lost Boys.

It is a striking title, suggesting to me that she had a genuine grasp of the phenomenon of young men drawn to violence, or consumed by it in death.

Before she died she had been talking to my friend and colleague Kathryn Johnston about my books on the Troubles and she mentioned that she planned to buy a copy of Political Murder In Northern Ireland.

I have always been troubled by the shocking story of a lost boy in that book. He was a 12-year-old from the Falls area of Belfast who was abducted by his killers and taken to Shaw's Bridge on the edge of the city. He was made to kneel, his anorak was pulled over his head, and he was executed. He was a lost boy, now forgotten, and no one was brought to justice for his murder.

Perhaps Lyra hoped to tell us about him, or about many young men on both sides who were lost to violence, or who delivered it.

She might have read my book God And The Gun and decided that the loyalist killer Billy Wright had been a lost boy, too, who had to watch his sisters being abused in a Church of Ireland institution.

I would have been happy to have spoken to her about her lost boys. I feel, from all I have learned about her in these last few days, that she would have brought us a genuine understanding of the cult of the gunman. Was it a lost boy's bullet that killed her?

Her death has to mean something more than condemnation. People may demand the naming of a street after her, and that would be a fine gesture, but I think there has to be something much more decisive. It is time for society to pass a Lyra McKee Law to penalise those who demonstrate, advocate or raise money for any organisation whose aim is to effect political change through the pursuit of violence. The law could be equally applied to all political parties.

We have to remove the cult of the gunman from our discourse. Romanticising violence gave us more lost boys and lost journalists like Lyra McKee and Martin O'Hagan.

Lyra's partner - Sara Canning
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Lyra's partner - Sara Canning A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
An upset friend as A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Naomi Long Long at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The Vigil for 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Forensics at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Mary Lou McDonald at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Colm Eastwood SDLP at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Lyra Vigil
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Arlene Foster at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Mary Lou McDonald at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Frt. Joe Gormley, PP, Creggan.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. DUP leader Arlene Foster arrives with party colleagues Gary Middleton and Gregory Campbell. Included are Fr. Joe Gormley and Bishop Ken Good.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. PSNI officers place floral tributes left at the scene.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Local Sinn Fein Councillor Kevin Campbell speaking with DUP leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues Gary Middleton and Gregory Campbell.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. PSNI officers place floral tributes left at the scene.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, with Mayor Councillor John Boyle.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, with the DUP's Gregory Campbell and Arlene Foster
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. DUP party leader Arlene Foster, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and Sinn Fein MEP Martinas Anderson.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood, Gregory Campbell, MLA, The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Councillor Kevin Campbell.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood, DIUP party leader Arlene Foster and the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, DUP party leader Arlene Foster, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and Sinn Fein MEP Martinas Anderson.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, and Right Rev. Dr. Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, Right Rev. Dr. Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, and the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster, Bishop Ken Good, Mary Hamilton and Bishop Donal McKeown.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Lyra McKee's partner Sarah Canning speaking to DIUP leader Arlene Foster.
The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster, Bishop Ken Good, Mary Hamilton and Bishop Donal McKeown.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer lays floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Lyra McKee shooting, Derry. Grafitti close to the scene.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer receives floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer searching Fanad Drive in Creggan, Derry following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
A woman with a rainbow flag at a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People signing a book of condolence after a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project reads a letter written by Lyra McKee when she was aged 24 called, Òa letter to my 14-year-old selfÓ, during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project reads a letter written by Lyra McKee when she was aged 24 called, Òa letter to my 14-year-old selfÓ, during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
  • Martin Dillon is an investigative journalist and author who has won international acclaim for his work on the Troubles

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