THE FAMILY of Lyra McKee have paid tribute to her “gentle innocent soul” in a moving statement released ahead of the 29-year-old’s funeral.
The statement, written by Lyra’s mother Joan, her brothers Gary and David and sisters Joan Hunter, Nichola Corner and Mary Crossan said: "On Thursday 18th April our beautiful Lyra was taken from us.
"A daughter, a sister, an aunt, a great-aunt, a partner, a niece, a cousin, and above all, a best friend and confidante to so many of us.
"A friend to all, a gentle innocent soul who wouldn't wish ill on anyone. Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone."
"She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth,” the McKee family added.
"Lyra spoke to and made friends with anybody and everybody, no matter what their background, those of all political views and those with none. This openness, and her desire to bring people together, made her totally apolitical."
"We would ask that Lyra's life and her personal philosophy are used as an example to us all as we face this tragedy together. Lyra's answer would have been simple, the only way to overcome hatred and intolerance is with love, understanding and kindness," they said.
The statement, also supported by their spouses and the nieces and nephews of Ms McKee, went on to thank the local community for their "outpouring of support and love.”
"We ask everyone who knew Lyra to continue her message of positivity and hope, by respecting her memory with dignity and respect,” they added.