The senseless murder of journalist Lyra Mc Kee in Derry has not only provoked an outpouring of grief and anger around the world but has also caused people to come closer together, determined not to let Northern Ireland fall under a dark cloud of hate, violence, and bloodshed.
For someone to be murdered while simply doing their job is horrific in itself, the fact that she was a journalist, seeking the truth to increase the public’s understanding of the situation, made it even more galling.
Here some journalism students, who will look to take up the mantle which she set, offer their take on such a mindless act of animalistic, cowardly violence which took one of their own.
In an empathetically written piece for The Atlantic, Lyra McKee wrote: “We were the Good Friday Agreement generation destined to never witness the horrors of war but to reap the spoils of peace. The spoils just never seemed to reach us.”
Lyra represented a generation who escaped the violence of the Troubles’ but refused to ignore its legacy. Her death, however, represents a renewed violence that cannot be ignored. As a journalist, she spoke on behalf of marginalised people; a voice for those who weren’t listened to.
Although this has been labeled an ‘accident’, it creates a chilling effect among those brave enough to report in dangerous environments. Journalists need to be protected in the course of news-gathering; otherwise, stories will go untold.
Heartbroken by the murder of Lyra McKee and the violence in Derry. The challenges in NI today are real–but we cannot let go of the last 21 years of hard-won peace and progress. This tragedy is a reminder of how much everyone has to lose if we do.— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) April 19, 2019
This senseless attack will have a lasting effect on the physical safety and integrity of journalists who are simply doing their job. Lyra’s death leaves us questioning the safety of the journalism profession in, not only Northern Ireland but right across the world. It is profoundly disturbing to think that a young and enthusiastic journalist of Lyra’s capability has died because of where her profession led her that night. This needless murder could inevitably lead to a reluctance of journalists in covering high-profile and important issues out of fear for their lives.
“There is a scale to how all this happens and we all allow ourselves a place on it, the offered hand not taken, the side-of-the-mouth remark not objected to, the not standing up when you need to stand up. #LyraMcKee refused her place on that scale” https://t.co/w8LZQ7rHtD— Martin Doyle (@MartinDoyleIT) April 19, 2019
Without the work of journalists like Lyra, we as a society would be at a huge disadvantage. Lyra was dedicated to providing us with the honest facts of what was taking that fateful ‘Holy Thursday’ night. As
in the words of her devastated partner; Sarah Canning, “This cannot stand. Lyra’s death cannot be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else’s lives and her legacy will live on and the life
that she has left behind.”
The response to her passing showed the actions of a few will not derail the peace for which so many people have given so much for and even as we head into uncertain times, that this peace is worth holding onto.
Words by Tamara Payne, Orla Finn and Michael Keaveny. Audio by Ernie Beggs