Lyra McKee in an undated Facebook photo.
By Irish Echo Staff
A 29-year-old woman described as a “rising star” in journalism was shot dead in Derry during disturbances in the city last night.
Lyra McKee was standing with other members of the public close to officers of the Police Service of Northern Ireland when a gunman opened fire. Her death is being blamed on the group calling itself the New IRA.
Politicians across the spectrum have united to condemn the terrorist attack, while the PSNI has asked relatives of dissident republicans to dissuade them from a violent path.
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Shortly before her death, McKee tweeted with a picture of a riot situation: “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”
Fellow journalist and close friend Matthew Hughes said her killing was “heartbreaking.”
“She was one of my closest friends,” he said. “She was my mentor. She was a groomswoman at my wedding. I can’t imagine life without her, and yet now I must. I’m devastated.”
Fr. Joseph Gormley, a Derry priest, who was called to the hospital at midnight where he anointed McKee, told the BBC, “I would love if those people who had fired those shots came over and saw what they did in Altnagelvin [hospital] last night, if they came over and saw that scene of a young woman and her family.”
Séamus Dooley, the assistant general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said McKee was “a journalist of courage, style and integrity.”
“A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with her partner, family and many friends and colleagues,” the NUJ’s general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said, “A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness.”
Naming her in 2016 in its “30 Under 30” talents to watch in the media, Forbes magazine wrote: “McKee’s passion is to dig into topics that others don’t care about.”
“We were the Good Friday Agreement generation, spared from the horrors of war,” McKee wrote in a piece published in the Atlantic in 2016. “But still, the aftereffects of those horrors seemed to follow us.”
McKee, who also wrote about growing up gay in Belfast, recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber. Editorial director Laura Hassan said at the time, “I think Lyra McKee has a long and prestigious writing career ahead of her.”
She added that the young Belfast writer had a “knack of engaging the head and the heart.”
The first of the proposed books, “The Lost Boys,” was due to be published next year. It was to document the stories of eight boys who went missing in Belfast during the Troubles.
McKee wrote a previous book, “Angels With Blue Faces,” which focused on the November 1981 assassination by the Provisional IRA of Ulster Unionist member of Parliament the Rev. Robert Bradford.