Lyra McKee

I’ve waited some time before putting pen to paper.

The death of a young woman, not much older than my daughter, is hard.

Murder is harder still.

When I got the news, at two in the morning, I did not sleep again that night.

I was introduced to Lyra about five years ago.There could be be fewer similarities.

I met this small, owlish, slightly diffident girl, in a Victoria Square coffee shop. She met a grumpy old man , with issues and a background. She had many difficulties with technology, which we laughed about. She was softly spoken, and I’m slightly deaf.

I was hoping that she could introduce me to contacts that might progress my enquiries into the murders of my parents. This she did.

Despite the disparity in our ages and in our experience of the world, she dispensed sage advice about me and my predicament.  She was no amateur. That is the thing I  remember  most about that meeting.

When I subsequently learned about her origins and her personal circumstances,  I was doubly impressed. She was born, not far from my parents’ home, three years before the birth of my daughter.

We kept in touch. She told me about the bullying tactics of Alison Morris, of the Irish News and of other state inspired pressure.

I disagreed with her about the campaign for equal rights. I told her how my generation, children of the Sixties, supported rights for all but were unimpressed by constant marches and the way in which they were  garishly supported. We agreed to differ.

She would ring me and call me “Sefton”, often the calls were random and from a variety of phones. She had a particular interest in the abuse of children, from wherever it derived.

We discussed all sorts of issues. She was, like me, a champion of the underdog.

Neither of us had much time for organised religion. I suppose she found my distrust and dislike of the establishment,  bizarre in a sixty something Prod.

We met a number of times, thereafter.

I followed her life and her new relationship in a bewildered fashion, appropriate to my age.

I suppose I imagined that somewhere, along the road, we would meet again to discuss some new angle that she was pursuing.

That never happened.

She was , like my mother , Ellen, the victim of random republican violence.

I mourn her life. I offer my condolences to her mother,  of whom she spoke fondly and to Ava , whom she adored and to all her family.

If it is appropriate  to add something, it is this. Where shall we find another? Where is there another fearless, disadvantaged, Catholic, gay , female journalist , not in the pocket of the state?

It is no exaggeration to say that , in that regard  it is unlikely that we shall never see her like again.

Once I learned that her funeral was to be in St Anne’s , I determined not to attend. I have been down the road of the NIO funeral.

I preferred to remember her, in my own way.

Lyra’s legacy will not be some sea change to politics here.

I’m hoping that it will be this: that  some young people will  simply take up the challenge and write honestly about our lives.

 

 

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