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UK-wide vigils to be held for murdered journalist Lyra McKee as memorial fundraiser tops £58,000

Vigils for murdered Lyra McKee will be held across the UK tomorrow as journalists are asked to share in a “symbolic action of solidarity” in her memory.

McKee, 29, was shot and killed as she reported on rioting in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday night.

The rioting took place in response to a police search operation aimed at disrupting dissident republicans. The New IRA has since claimed responsibility for McKee’s death.

McKee, who worked as a freelance journalist with publications including the Belfast Telegraph, Buzzfeed News and The Atlantic, will be remembered across the UK tomorrow as her funeral takes place in Belfast.

An online fundraiser set up by friends has already raised more than £58,000 for McKee’s family to go towards funeral expenses and to establish a legacy to mark her contribution to journalism.

National Union of Journalists members will form a guard of honour at the funeral, which will begin at St Anne’s Cathedral at 1pm, before burial takes place in Carnmoney cemetery.

The NUJ, of which McKee was a member, is encouraging colleagues to mark her life with a “symbolic act solidarity” either at 1pm, the start time of her funeral, or at some point during the day.

In London, St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street will act as a place of vigil for the whole day on Wednesday, but particularly at 1pm.

Also at 1pm, NUJ members will hold a vigil at Buchanan Street Steps in Glasgow, while in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin colleagues will remember McKee from 6pm on Tuesday using her own words and with music and song.

The NUJ said today: “Whether you are in a newsroom, at lunch or working alone please take a stand for journalism and encourage those around you to join in a simple gesture of solidarity.”

The union has asked people to share how they choose to mark McKee’s life by using the hashtag #WeStandWithLyra on Twitter and posting on the NUJ’s Facebook page.

There will also be books of condolences available for signing at the NUJ’s Headland House headquarters in London, and in Dublin.

“Lyra’s murder on Thursday night is a devastating blow to her partner and family, and to her many friends and colleagues throughout the NUJ,” the union said.

“We keep in our thoughts Lyra’s partner Sara, her mother Joan, sisters Nichola, Mary, Joan and her brothers Gary and David.”

McKee, who was an editor of US-based industry website Mediagazer alongside her freelance writing, was also known as an advocate for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland.

Her book about the Troubles, The Lost Boys, is due to be published by Faber next year and she has previously featured in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and been named Sky News Young Journalist of the Year.

Michael Harris, who set up the Go Fund Me crowdfunding page for McKee’s family, described her as an “incredible investigative journalist” with a “growing international reputation”.

Harris, who met McKee as they campaigned to reform what she described as the “archaic” libel laws in Northern Ireland, wrote: “I had the pleasure to know Lyra, who was one of the nicest, smartest and most decent people I have ever met.

“Lyra was part of a new generation of Northern Irish journalists (and young people) who had moved past sectarian identities and wanted to build a more progressive, more peaceful Northern Ireland. Lyra was a powerful advocate for LGBTi rights, civil liberties and human rights…

“Lyra was a passionate defender of press freedom and exposing the truth.”

Reporters Without Borders UK bureau chief Rebecca Vincent said she was “deeply saddened” by the killing, adding: “By all accounts she was a talented young journalist with a bright future ahead of her”.

And Prime Minister Theresa May said in a statement on Friday: “The death of Lyra McKee in last night’s suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless.

“My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues. She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage.”

Picture: TedX Talks/Youtube

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