Father Martin Magill, the Parish Priest at St John’s Parish, Belfast, has spoken about the life of Lyra McKee at her funeral.
Ms McKee, an award-winning young journalist, was killed by indiscriminate fire as she observed clashes between police and New IRA dissidents on the Creggan estate in Londonderry on April 18.
The Priest said: “For those of us who follow Jesus, we believe that the shedding of his innocent blood on the cross was enough – in the words of the hymn: ‘the cross has said it all’.
“We don’t need any more innocent blood to be shed. The irony could not be more poignant when we consider the signing of the Good Friday agreement which was about ensuring there would be no more deaths like Lyra’s.”
The service of thanksgiving was held in the Church of Ireland’s St Anne’s Cathedral, a short distance from her north Belfast home.
He referenced the Beatitudes, saying: “The beatitude ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ is very timely. Many of us will be praying that Lyra’s death in its own way will not have been in vain and will contribute in some way to building peace here.
“Since Thursday night we have seen the coming together of many people in various places and the unifying of the community against violence. I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday.
“I am however left with a question: ‘Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29 year old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?’ As Christians recalled the death of Jesus on the cross, we remembered that his death was not in vain but was for us the doorway to eternal life. I dare to hope that Lyra’s murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning.”
Fr Magill added: “To those who had any part in her murder, I encourage you to reflect on Lyra McKee, journalist and writer, as a powerful example of ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’.
“I plead with you to take the road of non-violence to achieve your political ends.
“If you want to see an end to these brutal rules, and see a new society built on justice and fairness, on hope and not fear, then you can help build that society by letting the police know what you know.”
He called on political leaders to break the Stormont negotiations impasse.
“I pray that Lyra’s murder may be the catalyst needed for parties to start talking, to reform that which was corrosive in previous assemblies and to begin anew.”
Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) formed the guard of honour.
The congregation was led by Ms McKee’s partner Sara Canning, 35, her mother Joan McKee, 68, brothers Gary and David and sisters Joan, Nichola and Mary.
The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.
Police believe the violence in Derry was orchestrated in response to an earlier search by officers aimed at averting imminent trouble associated with the anniversary of the Easter Rising.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Irish premier Leo Varadkar, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney were among those who attended.
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“I ask you to listen to the majority of the people on your beloved island of Ireland who are calling on you to stop. “