Lyra McKee’s friends begin peace walk from Belfast to Derry

Hundreds turn out for the start of the event in honour of murdered journalist

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begin a three-day peace walk from Belfast to Derry. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA Wire

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee begin a three-day peace walk from Belfast to Derry. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA Wire

 

Friends of Lyra McKee have started a three-day peace walk from Belfast to Derry, almost six weeks after the journalist was murdered while watching clashes between police and dissident republicans.

At Writer’s Square in Belfast on Saturday morning, hundreds turned out for the start of the walk, many wearing T-shirts in McKee’s memory and carrying flags bearing messages of peace.

They gathered beside St Anne’s Cathedral, where British prime minister Theresa May, President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Northern Ireland’s political leaders were among the mourners at McKee’s funeral.

McKee (29) was shot in the head while observing clashes between police and the New IRA on the Creggan estate in Derry last month. Violence had broken out there after police raids aimed at seizing munitions before commemorations of the Easter Rising the following weekend.

Brenda Gough, who was managing logistics for the walk, urged anyone who sees the walkers to show their support, and thanked community groups that have offered water and snacks for the event.

Ms Gough said McKee’s partner, Sara Canning, chose the starting location for the walk. “She said Lyra was a writer and so the start point should be Writer’s Square. It’s beside St Anne’s Cathedral where the funeral was, so yeah, we are starting off where we last saw Lyra.”

A mixture of people from both sides of Northern Ireland’s sectarian divide had come to attend the walk, Ms Gough said. “We do have some walkers who have played their part in the Troubles – they are here to support us and show that change can happen,” she said.

“That is the ethos of this: we want people to address themselves and not the politicians, because we have the politicians that we vote for, we are responsible for our government. We can’t just blame them.”

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody is due to join the walkers on the last leg on Monday before a rally at the Guildhall in Derry. – Guardian