Standing ovation for priest who asked 'Why in God's name?' at Lyra McKee's funeral

Lyra McKee(Photo: Facebook)

The priest leading Lyra McKee's funeral received a standing ovation after he challenged political leaders on why it had taken the death of a young woman to bring them together. 

Political leaders attended the acclaimed journalist's funeral at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast on Wednesday after standing side by side at a vigil in Creggan on Good Friday. 

Ms McKee was shot dead during riots in Creggan last Thursday.  The New IRA claimed responsibility for her murder. 

Prime Minister Theresa May, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins, and Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar were among those who attended her funeral. 

Addressing mourners, Fr Martin Magill said: "Since Thursday night we have seen the coming together of many people in various places and the unifying of the community against violence.

"I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday. I am however left with a question: 'Why in God's name does it take the death of a 29 year old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?'

"As Christians recalled the death of Jesus on the cross, we remembered that his death was not in vain but was for us the doorway to eternal life.

"I dare to hope that Lyra's murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning."

Ms McKee was a rising star in journalism, having featured in Forbes magazine's 30 under 30 list in 2016, and the Irish Times' 10 rising stars of Irish writing last month. 

She was also an author, having previously published Angels with Blue Faces about the murder of Rev Robert Bradford, the Member of Parliament for South Belfast.  Her second book, Lost Boys, was due to be published next year. 

Fr Magill pleaded with Ms McKee's killers to reflect on her journalism "as a powerful example of 'The pen is mightier than the sword'". 

"I plead with you to take the road of non violence to achieve your political ends," he said.