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Killed reporter's commitment to truth 'absolute'

Killed reporter's commitment to truth 'absolute'

Lyra McKee gave a TED talk in 2017 about the Orlando gay nightclub shootings the previous year
"Kid, it's gonna be okay... it's going to get better."You're going to join a scheme that trains people your age to be journalists... for the first time in your life you'll feel like you're good at something. You'll have found your calling."Those were the words of Lyra McKee, written for the short film Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self.On Thursday night in Londonderry, Ms McKee was shot dead during rioting that police are treating as a "terrorist incident".On Friday morning, friends, colleagues and many others paid tributes to a "rising star" in the world of journalism.
Her close friend Ann Travers, whose sister was shot dead by IRA gunmen in 1984, said Ms McKee was a journalist "who liked to help others, to try to give answers to people and empower people".
Ann Travers said Lyra McKee was a journalist who "wanted to empower people"
"I used to call her Sherlock Holmes," she said."Once she got hold of something she really didn't give up."Lyra did not deserve this to happen to her and her family don't deserve any of this."
'Believed in tolerance'
Ms McKee worked had written for many other publications, including Buzzfeed, Private Eye, the Atlantic and Mosaic Science.Recently she worked for the California-based news site Mediagazer, a trade publication covering the media industry.She was named Sky News young journalist of the year in 2006 and Forbes Magazine named her as one of their 30 under 30 in media in Europe in 2016.The 29-year-old north Belfast woman had signed a two-book deal with the publisher Faber and Faber, with her forthcoming book The Lost Boys due out in 2020.According to those who knew her best, the gay rights advocate was someone who "believed passionately in social and religious tolerance".Eva Grosman of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building, considered Ms McKee "a good friend".She and others who knew her best felt "numb with grief".
Lyra McKee was killed during a night of violence in Derry - police are blaming dissident republicans
"Life was just getting good for Lyra," she told BBC News NI."She had fallen in love, she was so happy up in Derry - things were starting to go really well."Ms Grosman had invited Lyra to present a TED talk at Stormont in 2017 - she used it to reflect on the 2016 shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in Florida, in which 49 people were killed."It's so poignant when I think back on what she said now," said Ms Grosman."She was talking about intolerance and hate and violence and how senseless it all is, how destructive."And she had the whole audience on their feet at the end of it - I've never seen such an impactful talk."It's so sad to remember her words this morning in light of what has happened to her - it's sickening."
'Intelligent and witty'
Ciaran O Maolain, the Belfast secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), who knew Ms McKee well, described her as "intelligent, determined and very witty"."Those whom she trusted were privileged to be taken into her confidence," he added."There is no comfort for us in knowing that her killing, unlike that of Martin O'Hagan or Veronica Guerin, was not targeted.
Journalist Veronica Gueirn was shot dead in 1996 while driving her car on the Naas road
"Like them, Lyra was killed because she was a journalist."It would be wrong to say that she was fearless - she was too intelligent for that."She was, however, brave enough to take calculated risks in pursuit of a story and before the shot was fired she may have felt safest in the lee of an armoured police vehicle."According to the NUJ, Ms McKee's most recent story was an analysis piece on the rising rate of young suicides since the ceasefires and the Good Friday Agreement.
'Commitment to truth'
On Valentine's Day, she had paid tribute to the "love of my life" Sara in an article for the Belfast Telegraph.Speaking about the moments leading to her death, Mr O Maolain said: "Having heard the rioting, Lyra went out with Sara to cover events and had only just finished discussing the situation with a colleague in Belfast when she was shot."Sara was beside her at the time and later when she died in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry."Amnesty International's head of nations and regions Patrick Corrigan tweeted that Ms McKee's "commitment to truth was absolute".
@PatrickCorrigan
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Killed reporter's commitment to truth 'absolute'

@PatrickCorrigan
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John O'Doherty, the director of the Rainbow Project, an LGBT support group, described her as "a hero" for the LGBT community."Lyra was a remarkable person," he said."We have been reading about the huge impact Lyra had on so many within Northern Ireland's LGBT community, including supporting people in coming out and using her own coming out story to empower others to live as their most authentic selves. "Lyra has volunteered and fundraised for us, including at a Strictly Come Dancing fundraising event."Lyra described herself as someone with two left feet but like everything she did in her life, she gave it everything she had and our lasting memory will be of a smiling and dancing Lyra."
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