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Priest receives standing ovation by challenging politicians at funeral of Lyra McKee

A priest received a standing ovation when he questioned why it has taken the death of Lyra McKee for Northern Irish politicians to come together.

Catholic parish priest Father Martin Magill raised the important question at the funeral service of murdered journalist, Ms McKee, who was shot dead as she observed rioting in Derry last Thursday.

Fr Magill asked: "Why does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?"

He was speaking in front of leaders from across the political divide who had come together for the service.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's Leader Mary Lou McDonald were pictured sat side-by-side at the service.

The emotional service focused on the lasting legacy of the murdered journalist and creating a society which the 29-year-old had envisioned.

"Within each of us, we have the power to create the kind of society that Lyra envisioned, one where labels are meaningless, one where every single person is valued, one where every single child gets the chance to grow up and to make their dreams come true," Ms McKee's sister, Nichola Corner told the congregation at St Anne's in Belfast.

"This is Lyra's legacy that we must carry forward."

Friend Stephen Lusty, told the congregation, Ms McKee had planned to propose to her partner, Sara Canning, in May.

Fr Martin Magill led the service with Dean Stephen Forde and urged dissident republican gunmen who killed the Belfast-born journalist to lay down their arms.

As Chief Constable George Hamilton urged anyone with information on the murder to come forward.

"This isn't about being an informant or grassing someone up, this is about good citizenship," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Theresa May was among politicians in attendance at the service, along with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The journalist will be laid to rest in Carnmoney cemetery in Newtownabbey, just outside of Belfast.

Follow the coverage from the funeral below (times in BST).

4.07pm update: Journalists hold vigils to stand with Lyra

Journalists from across the UK and Ireland held vigils in memory of Ms McKee.

Reporters from numerous outlets shared images on social media of their own vigils to coincide with her funeral service in Belfast, using the hashtag #WeStandWithLyra.

ITV News’s Rupert Evelyn tweeted a clip of people applauding the murdered reporter in the Bristol and South West newsroom.

Other similar tributes were seen in Cork, Galway and Glasgow and even as far afield as the United States, China and the Middle East.

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3.23pm update: PSNI chief constable wants justice for murdered journalist

Chief Constable George Hamilton has spoken to reporters after the service about Lyra McKee and bringing those responsible for her murder to justice.

"She was a great person who worked hard to shine a light to recover truth, she cared passionately about issues and worked hard and with integrity and of course, that is in complete contrast, complete contrast to those people who came out of the shadows last Thursday night, fired shots towards police lines," the PSNI chief constable said.

"I suppose the outpouring of condemnation from the community of Derry, from Creggan, the politicians all standing together in Creggan with our community last Friday was something that was quite unique and quite different and we need to capitalise on that.

"We believe the evidence to bring those responsible for Lyra's murder to book is out there."

He urged anyone with information to come forward: "This isn't about being an informant or grassing someone up, this is about good citizenship.

"It's about respect for the rule of law and it's about bringing to book and taking off the streets the people who murdered Lyra McKee."

3.18pm: Mourners and political leaders applaud as hearse leaves

Political leaders, including Theresa May, applaud as the hearse carrying Lyra McKee's coffin leaves.

The journalist will be laid to rest in Carnmoney cemetery in Newtownabbey, just outside of Belfast.

Political leaders and mourners clap as the hearse leaves.

3.01pm update: Coffin leaves service

Lyra McKee's coffin is taken out of the cathedral, as mourner line up outside.

Lyra McKee's coffin is taken out of the cathedral.

3.00pm update: Priest asks people to come forward with information

"We need to send a very different message and so I appeal to those who have information about Lyra's murder but who haven't yet come forward to do so now," Fr Magill said.

"If you want to see an end to these brutal rules, and see a new society built on justice and fairness, on hope and not fear, then you can help build that society by letting the police know what you know."

He called on political leaders to break the Stormont negotiations impasse. "I pray that Lyra's murder may be the catalyst needed for parties to start talking, to reform that which was corrosive in previous assemblies and to begin anew."

Father Martin Magill urges everyone to take the path of non-violence after Ms McKee's death.

2.58pm update: Lay down your arms, priest urges

Father Martin Magill said dissident republican gunmen who killed the Belfast-born journalist should lay down their arms.

He urged politicians at Northern Ireland's suspended powersharing administration to work together to produce a better life for young people.

Catholic priest Fr Magill said: "I dare to hope that Lyra's murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning. I detect a deep desire for this."

Fr Magill said: "To those who had any part in her murder, I encourage you to reflect on Lyra McKee, journalist and writer, 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."

Members of the public listen to the service of the murdered journalist. Credit: PA

2.28pm update: 'Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman?'

Fr Martin Magill asks: "Why does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?"

Hundreds across the political divide gather under one roof to celebrate the life of Ms McKee. Credit: PA

2.30pm: 'Create the society Lyra envisioned'

"None of us will ever be the same again, we have all been changed by the events of last Thursday," Nichola Corner says in her eulogy.

"But within each of us, we have the power to create the kind of society that Lyra envisioned, one where labels are meaningless, one where every single person is valued, one where every single child gets the chance to grow up and to make their dreams come true.

"This is Lyra's legacy that we must carry forward. This is the gift that God gave the world on the 31st of March 1990 and we are all responsible for helping God's will to be fulfilled. Each and every one of us.

"In the word's of Lyra herself, we must change our own world one piece at a time. Now let's get to work."

2.16pm update: 'Lyra will always be our baby'

"Lyra is many things to many people, but to us, her family, she is and always will be our baby," Ms McKee's sister, Nichola Corner tells the congregation.

2.07pm: Lyra was planning to propose in May

Ms McKee was planning on proposing to her long-time partner, Sara Canning in May during a special trip to New York, Stephen Lusty said in his eulogy.

Sara Canning looks on as eulogies of her partner Lyra McKee are read out.

1.58pm update: Lyra's lasting legacy should be peace

Ending his tribute to his "fearless and naive" friend, Stephen Lusty said: "We have two choices, we can look into the holes and wait forever... or we can fill those holes today.

"Today we grieve but tomorrow let us fill that hole by adopting Lyra's future and vision."

1.51pm update: DUP and Sinn Fein's leaders side-by-side

DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein's Leader Mary Lou McDonald sit side-by-side at the funeral of Lyra McKee.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, Sinn Fein's Leader Mary Lou McDonald and Vice President Michelle O'Neill sit together. Credit: AP

1.26pm update: 'Smart, kind, passionate'

Lyra McKee's friend Stephen Lusty addresses the congregation and said the journalist had many friends "drawn from all walks of life, all shapes, all sizes, genders, interests and views were welcome."

"There were no formulas or tickboxes in her world, you just needed to be a good person," he says.

"Lyra was smart, kind, passionate, interesting, feisty, generous, funny and above all else, compassionate."

1.22pm update: Lyra was a child of the Good Friday agreement

Dean Stephen Forde tells the congregation: "As a journalist she pursued truth wherever it took her, never content with the sullied silence of unanswered questions."

He says was a child of the Good Friday agreement and "she championed a society that was free of the prejudices of the past."

"Let us in this service of remembrance and celebration hold to a God-given hope that Lyra's legacy will call each of us to break down barriers and reach across boundaries," Dean Forde adds.

1.11pm update: Theresa May in front row at cathedral

Prime Minister Theresa May sits between Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and President Michael D Higgins.

Prime Minister Theresa May is in attendance at the funeral. Credit: PA

1.10pm update: Service has begun

The service for murdered journalist Lyra McKee has begun at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast as her coffin is carried into the cathedral.

Lyra McKee's coffin is carried into St Anne's. Credit: PA

1.08pm: 'Ceasefire baby' will be added to people killed in the Troubles

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12.51pm: Huge crowds gather outside cathedral

Huge crowds have gathered outside of St Anne's Cathedral.

Crowds line up outside St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast ahead of the service.

12.42pm update: Coffin arrives ahead of service

Lyra McKee's coffin has arrived ahead of the service which is adorned with flowers that say 'Team Lyra'.

The crowd applauded as the cortege arrived at the cathedral, with a white and pink floral heart carried in the hearse.

Lyra McKee's coffin arrives ahead of the service.
Lyra McKee's coffin arrives ahead of the service.

12.34pm update: Harry Potter theme

Mourners have been asked to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter or Marvel t-shirts, as her partner says "she would love it."

Sara Canning said: “"It’s going to be a celebration of her life and if people would like to wear Hufflepuff, Harry Potter or Marvel related items.

"I know she would love it."

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A mourner wearing a Gryffindor scarf at the funeral of Lyra McKee. Credit: PA

12.26pm update: Jeremy Corbyn and Leo Varadkar arrive

Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have arrived and walked into St Anne's together.

Leo Varadkar and Jeremy Corbyn arrive at the funeral.

12.25pm update: Mourners start to arrive at funeral

Mourners have started to arrive at the funeral of Lyra McKee at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.

The journalist's friends have said people should gather in Derry's Guildhall Square tomorrow at 1pm if they can't attend the funeral in Belfast.

The funeral is taking place at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast. Credit: PA

12.24pm update: Members of NUJ form guard of honour

Members of the National Union of Journalists have formed a guard of honour to remmeber the murdered journalist.

The union described Ms McKee as "one of the most promising journalists" in Northern Ireland.

12.23pm update: Priest tells mourners death should mark new beginnings

The death of Lyra McKee should mark a new beginning for Northern Ireland, a priest has told mourners.

Dissident republican gunmen who killed the Belfast-born journalist, 29, should lay down their arms, Father Martin Magill added.

He urged politicians at Northern Ireland's suspended powersharing administration to work together to produce a better life for young people.

Catholic priest Fr Magill said: "I dare to hope that Lyra's murder on Holy Thursday night can be the doorway to a new beginning. I detect a deep desire for this."