‘Red hands a real show of strength’

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The impression of red hand prints on Saoradh HQ by the friends of Lyra McKee was described as a ‘real show of strength’ by Derry writer Susan McKay at the MacGill Summer School this week.

Ms. McKay said the gesture had resonated around the world and stood in stark contrast with the republican and loyalist paramilitary displays of the past and present.

The Drumahoe-native made the remarks during a tribute to the 29-year-old journalist who was shot dead by a republican gunman in Creggan on Holy Thursday.

The event in Glenties on Tuesday was attended by Lyra’s partner Sara Canning and some of her friends who had emblazoned crimson hand prints on a ‘Victory to the Republican Prisoners’ mural on the side of Junior McDaid House on Easter Monday.

“Nowadays in the North we see mainly shows of strength celebrated in murals on the gable walls of, still impoverished after all these years, parts of cities, towns and villages,” said Ms. McKay during the course of her presentation.

But pouring scorn on the paramilitary posturing of the mostly male balaclava-wearing gunmen who engaged in such shows of strength, she declared the women’s protest of three months ago as far more powerful.

“A silence fell over Derry after Lyra’s murder. A silence like the one that fell after Bloody Sunday in 1972, and I remember that one because I was there as a school girl at the time. And through the silence of the Derry streets four days after Lyra’s death her friends walked to the headquarters of Saoradh and this is what they did.

“This, to my mind, is a real show of strength.” she said.