Lyra McKee : The loss of a friend of our union

Lyra McKee’s death last week shocked us all. Today as her funeral takes place, we share in the collective grief and sadness at the loss of a friend of our union. Yet I can think of no better words to sum up our feelings than those used by our Northern Ireland Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown.

As Patricia said last week:

“Lyra McKee was an investigative journalist and a defender of equality and human rights.

We worked with Lyra in the past and had hoped to again in the future. We worked with her not in only her role as investigative journalist but she also trained our local UNISON activists in their media work.

Lyra was a regular and welcome face at our equality events, marches and demonstrations and she will be sorely missed. We commend her efforts on speaking for LGBT people and the difference she made.

We extend our deepest condolences to her family.

Lyra is not just another dead journalist – another worker, murdered at work. She was a child when the peace accord was signed. She was from the generation that we all hoped would enjoy a better future.

Lyra took her own peace building responsibilities very seriously. She gave voice to victims and relatives of the conflict and survivors of institutional abuse in their search for truth and justice.

Those who killed her are enemies of peace. There is no place in any part of our deeply divided society for those who use guns and knives and bombs to intimidate. They keep us divided. They interfere with the search for truth and justice. They damage our younger generation. There is an obligation on all of us to confront them and to speak out. Lyra had the guts to do it – so must we all.”