Lyra Mckee's mother dies weeks before first anniversary of murder

Lyra Mckee's mother dies weeks before first anniversary of murder

Journalist Lyra Mckee’s mother dies five weeks before the first anniversary of her daughter’s murder during rioting in Derry

  • Joan Lawrie passed away in a Belfast hospital last night, family members said 
  • Her daughter Lyra, 29, was shot dead while observing a riot in Derry last April 
  • Ms McKee was a gay rights activist and wanted a more tolerant Northern Ireland

Lyra McKee’s mother has died just five weeks before the first anniversary of her daughter’s alleged murder.

Joan Lawrie passed away in a Belfast hospital last night almost one year after her daughter was shot dead while observing a riot on Londonderry’s Creggan estate in April. 

Paul McIntyre, 52, has been charged with the murder of Miss McKee, 29, and is currently remanded in custody.

A family member said on Twitter: ‘My wee Mother In Law, passed away last night of a broken heart. Unable to live without her baby Lyra.

‘My Wee mother in law whom I loved with all my heart, I will love you to beyond eternity. Mother and daughter rest in forever peace. #Lyramckee#Joanmckee.’

Ms McKee had regularly visited her mother in north Belfast (pictured together) to look after her before she was killed while observing a riot on Londonderry’s Creggan estate in April

A family member revealed news of Ms Lawrie’s passing on Twitter this morning. She said she ‘passed away last night of a broken heart’

Lyra’s older sister, Nichola McKee Corner, also announced her mother’s death in a Facebook post this morning, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

She said: ‘It is with the greatest sadness that I share this. My mother, Joan Lawrie, passed away peacefully in hospital on 10th March.

‘She is now at peace with her beloved daughter Lyra McKee.’  

Political journalist Suzanne Breen also tweeted: ‘Lyra McKee’s mother has died just weeks before the first anniversary of her daughter’s murder.

‘Joan’s heart was broken and it couldn’t be fixed. Two people were effectively killed by one shot that night in Derry. Shame on those who brought death and destruction into this family’s life.’

Joan Lawrie passed away in a Belfast hospital last night almost one year after her daughter was shot dead while observing a riot on Londonderry’s Creggan estate in April

Ms McKee, 29, was shot dead by dissident republicans while observing a riot in the Creggan area

Ms McKee had regularly visited her mother in north Belfast to look after her.

She had written, in a ‘Letter to my 14-year-old self’, of how supportive her mother was when she revealed her sexuality.  

‘Three months before your 21st birthday, you will tell Mum the secret, she wrote. ‘You will be sobbing and shaking and she will be frightened because she doesn’t know what’s wrong. Christmas will be just a couple of weeks away. 

‘You have to tell her because you’ve met someone you like and you can’t live with the guilt any more. You can’t get the words out so she says it: ‘Are you gay?’ And you will say, ‘Yes Mummy, I’m so sorry.’ And instead of getting mad, she will reply ‘Thank God you’re not pregnant’.

‘You will crawl into her lap, sobbing, as she holds you and tells you that you are her little girl and how could you ever think that anything would make her love you any less? You will feel like a prisoner who has been given their freedom.’

Paul McIntyre, the man charged with the murder of Lyra Mckee arrives at Londonderry Magistrates Court on February 13

Ms McKee was a gay rights activist and an articulate advocate of a new and more tolerant Northern Ireland and part of the generation which reached adulthood during peace time. She wrote for publications including Private Eye and Buzzfeed. 

A tribute to Miss McKee released by her mother Joan, brothers Gary and David, and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan soon after her death said: ‘On Thursday April 18, our beautiful Lyra was taken from us.

‘A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us. A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn’t wish ill on anyone.

‘Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone. She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth.

‘Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none. This openness, and her desire to bring people together, made her totally apolitical.

‘We would ask that Lyra’s life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra’s answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness.’

Robyn Peoples and Sharni Edwards, the first couple to be legally married in a same-sex couple in Northern Ireland, are pictured kissing in front of a tribute wall to Lyra McKee in Belfast

Miss McKee was standing near a police vehicle when she was hit by a bullet fired by a masked gunman towards officers 11 months ago.

The Belfast-based writer was living in Londonderry with her partner, Sara Canning, at the time.

Her funeral was attended by then prime minister Theresa May, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish President Michael D Higgins at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill received a standing ovation when he asked why it took her death to unite politicians.

Days later the British and Irish governments announced a new talks process aimed at restoring devolution.

Powersharing was resurrected in January and the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland took place in February. 

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