Hundreds sign up for Lyra’s Walk to Derry

Hundreds of people have signed up to undertake a walk from Belfast to Derry for peace in memory of Lyra McKee.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 9:40 am
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 10:43 am

Organisers told the ‘Journal’ they were planning to arrive at Guildhall Square on Monday May 27 at around 3pm, after setting up camp the previous evening in Dungiven, where the community has rallied to offer support.

The group will be in Derry today to meet with representatives of the various groups that make up the Diverse City Community Partnership at the Junction in Bishop Street Within, to discuss what supports they can offer.

Journalist Lyra was murdered when a New IRA gunman opened fire during a night of violence in Creggan 15 days ago. Lyra, who had recently moved to Derry and lived in the Long Tower area, was shot in the head as she was standing with a group of bystanders near a police Land Rover.

Carmel and Bernard Murray-Gates with their granddaughter Zoe Rutherford at the vigil for Lyra McKee, in Guildhall Square, to express solidarity as her funeral takes place in Belfast. DER1719GS-032

Lyra’s friend and one of the co-ordinators of the walk, Conall McCrory, said that walk to Derry evolved out a previous vigil he organised in her native Belfast to give people a chance to come together. “After that we decided further action needed to be taken and a friend had got in contact and suggested the walk and we thought it was a good idea and it has snowballed from there.”

After securing the blessing of Lyra’s family and partner Sara to proceed, the organisers have been busy making preparations for the march, which will set off from ‘Writer’s Square’ in Belfast on Saturday, May 25. “I don’t think there is anybody that hasn’t been touched by this,” Conall said.“We have heard of murders, seen Troubles-related things spilling through into this generation and people don’t know what to think or do. Something different happened after what happened to Lyra. It struck a chord with people who are fed up having to live through this trauma and it is traumatic, we are all suffering from PTSD as survivors of the Troubles and people are sick to the back teeth of the same old thing.

“We are signed up to the Good Friday Agreement 21 years and we haven’t had a Peace Process. Where do we go from here? How do we rejuvenate and reclaim the Peace Process? We feel like we have been involved in a political screaming match for 21 years, so how do we create a better society for our young people. At the moment it is dire.”

He said that issues related to poverty and suicide, which Lyra was very much concerned with, needed to be addressed. “People would talk about Lyra being an activist. She didn’t go out seeking that title, she was true to herself and what she thought was good, she was interested in having the difficult conversations, stepping over barricades, that’s very much what we are looking to inject into this,” Conall added.

Brenda Gough, Logistics and Locations Manager, said that within a week of the walk being announced, 350 people had signed up, with community groups also pledging to walk along with those taking part along the way. commenting onthose taking part, Brenda said: “We have a lot of people from different sides of human thinking walking shoulder-to-shoulder and it’s about people stopping looking at politicians and looking to each other for change.

“We have to decide what we want. Change comes from the bottom up.”

She said the organisers have been in talks with Derry City & Strabane District Council, Richard Moore from Children in Crossfire, Jim Roddy from the City Centre Initiative and Eamon Baker from The Valued Voices Towards Understanding and Healing project based at the Junction among others. The Ponderosa Bar outside Dungiven, meanwhile, has offered refreshments and first aid for those on the march.

“People can join us at any stage and there will be facilitated camping for both nights of the march,” Brenda added.

Eamon Baker, meanwhile, said: “Our peace building organisation would support the demand that Lyra’s death be the last and the meeting on Friday is to discover what specific ways we can support this.”

The organisers urged anyone who can help offer support services along the route to contact the group via e-mail [email protected] You can registering for free for the Walk via the following link: www.eventbrite.ie/e/lyras-walk-tickets-60703941122