Lyra’s legacy: ‘Don’t let anyone say you cannot achieve your dreams’

Lyra’s legacy: ‘Don’t let anyone say you cannot achieve your dreams’
by Aodhan FAGAN
4 November 2022

The film Lyra is about the life and death of international award-winning Northern Irish investigative journalist Lyra McKee. After a screening at Queen’s Film Theatre in Belfast, a question-and-answer discussion took place with director Alison Millar (a friend of Lyra) and Lyra McKee’s sister Nichola, hosted by investigative journalist Darragh MacIntyre.  

Lyra McKee was an admired Belfast investigative journalist. She focused and shined a light on many difficult issues specific to Northern Ireland: on topics of post-conflict, equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community, cases of injustices, and the many unsolved crimes — always with a concern for the people in her writings. 

Speaking to people who knew Lyra and those whom she met along the way — for example, people who are homeless, or those who have been bereaved by suicide — some in the film said that knew her for her writings while many spoke of her kindness. Lyra did not have to make herself known to the people of Belfast and further afield; she did not seek any glory. She was just kind and concerned for people’s lives and the future, whilst not forgetting the past in Northern Ireland that has a heavy impact on generations today. 

Aged 29, Lyra was shot dead by Irish dissident republicans as she observed a riot in Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland. The New IRA claimed responsibility for her death.   

The film enables the viewer to gain an insight into how Lyra grew up in Belfast in the ‘90s, as she reports her own story through retrieved voice recordings and many interviews. The audience gains an intimate approach to Lyra’s life, with her mum, Nichola (sister) and Sara (partner), while the eyes of the world saw their pain in the days and months that shadowed Lyra’s death, and in their continued pursuit of justice for Lyra.  

In the discussion, Nichola expressed her feelings that given the political crisis in Northern Ireland, she hoped the film would fill a void of the impasse and remind people of all backgrounds that they themselves can make a difference in society. Lyra inspired people around her and all over the globe. There were tears and quiet reflection, but much laughter in the film and from those watching. A young person in the audience asked what is Lyra’s legacy. In response: “Don’t let anyone say you cannot achieve your dreams.”

There is no doubting the positive impact of Lyra’s life and legacy on people locally and internationally — her family, friends, and those who knew her best let the viewer in and they’ve given Lyra to the world through this production. There was literally a standing ovation for Lyra at the event. 

Lyra will never be forgotten — not a chance! 

The film Lyra is out now throughout the UK and Ireland.  

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