Theresa May attending Lyra McKee funeral service in Belfast

Dodds says murder brought ‘palpable sense of real grief, shock and anger’

British prime minister Theresa May leaves after attending her local church service on Easter Sunday on April 21st. File photo: Jack Taylor/Getty

British prime minister Theresa May leaves after attending her local church service on Easter Sunday on April 21st. File photo: Jack Taylor/Getty

 

British prime minister Theresa May will attend Lyra McKee’s funeral at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast today, Downing Street has confirmed.

She will represent the British government alongside Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday, Ms Bradley described Ms McKee as a “true loss” to Northern Ireland.

“She was a role model to many, and she always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place. Nothing we say today can take away the pain that her family must be experiencing now, but what I can say to her family, the people of Derry and the whole of Northern Ireland is that we will continue to strive for peace in Northern Ireland. We are behind them, and we are united in rejecting those who seek to undermine peace with terror,” she said.

Northern Ireland MPs were close to tears as they paid tribute to Ms McKee and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said her murder had brought “a palpable sense of real grief, shock and anger” across the community.

The 29-year-old journalist, author and gay rights activist was shot dead by the dissident republican group, the New IRA, during a disturbance in Derry last week.

Several hundred people are expected to attend the funeral service this afternoon. Those who are unable to get inside the cathedral will be able to hear the service broadcast from outside the building.

The chief mourners are Ms McKee’s mother Joan, her partner Ms Canning, her sisters Joan, Nichola and Mary, brothers Gary and David, nieces and nephews and a great-niece Ava.

Also attending will be President Michael D Higgins, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone along with numerous political, community and church leaders, and friends of Ms McKee.

The Dean of St Anne’s, the Very Reverend Stephen Forde will officiate at the service while the parish priest of St John’s in west Belfast, Fr Martin Magill will deliver the homily.