Una Mullally: Derry’s youth struggle to escape dark past

Lyra McKee is a post-Troubles role model for optimism, integrity and goodness

Graffiti amended to read “IRA are done. Defeated Army” instead of “IRA undefeated Army” in the Creggan area of Derry in Northern Ireland.  Photograph:  Paul Faith/AFP

Graffiti amended to read “IRA are done. Defeated Army” instead of “IRA undefeated Army” in the Creggan area of Derry in Northern Ireland. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP

In 2007, Fionola Meredith quoted Lyra McKee in a piece in The Irish Times when Lyra was just 17, writing for a BBC website about her participation in a youth journalism project, “The strain of the past 11 days plunged me into a zombie-like stupor . . . Even with all this, I can still honestly say, wait till I cross my fingers, that I love being a journalist. Turning out a great piece of work even when time is running against you is like sticking your tongue out and saying, ‘Ha ha, look what I can do!’”

Within that statement is everything that journalism can hold for a young person with a natural disposition towards the job; the rush of excitement the work can deliver and revelling in the energy-sapping process, the love-hate relationship with deadlines, and the self-assuredness the prospect of accomplishment offers. This is a person whose gravitation towards journalism was vocational in its drive.

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