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'I have lost the woman I was going to marry': Partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee reveals her anguish

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

It’s a month since Lyra McKee was killed.

Her clothes are still in the drawers beside her bed; her pink shoes still lying in a corner of the living room untouched.

Lyra's partner Sara Canning can't bring herself to move anything. Not yet. The home they shared feels hollow.

"She was only wee, but she filled this house," Sara tells me.

When speaking about Lyra, Sara's eyes simultaneously light up and well up.

She remembers how happy Lyra made her but also that their future together has now been stolen.

Lyra McKee was a journalist, killed while doing her job. She was shot dead by a stray bullet during riots in Derry on Easter Weekend this year.

On Easter weekend last year, she had just met Sara for their first date, and started falling in love.

"She was so pretty with the best laugh I've ever heard. We just clicked right away. I had seen her Ted Talks before we met and I expected her to be so confident, but she was actually quite shy and so humble.

"We talked about everything on that first date from our mutual love for Harry Potter to our bucket lists and what it had been like for us growing up gay.

"We had just met but we had so many similar experiences and so much in common."

Not far from that Belfast cafe, there is now a mural for Lyra along with her words: "It won't always be like this. It's going to get better."

These words are from a piece Lyra wrote entitled, A Letter To My 14 Year-Old Self. It was about being young, Catholic, and gay in Northern Ireland.

About being afraid to 'come out' because the two extremes in the religious divide tearing your country apart were in agreement on one thing: being gay is sinful and would condemn you to an eternity in Hell's fire.

Lyra overcame that kind of intolerance and used her platform as a journalist to inspire and support others who were struggling.

She had become a successful writer, signing a two book deal with Fabre.

She had found the love of her life in Sara and planned to get engaged. Another challenge was still ahead of her, though, because Northern Ireland doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.

Like any other couple, Lyra and Sara would plan the dreamy details of their wedding - would it be in a castle? What would they wear? Who would they invite? The location was more certain, because being gay in Northern Ireland it would mean having to leave their own country.

"Lyra wrote passionately about equal marriage," Sara says. "She cared about it so much - we both did.

"She wanted to get married in Northern Ireland but we both knew that wasn't possible so we would have to go across the border into the Republic. We could get married there but as soon as we came home our marriage wouldn't be recognised."

Tomorrow, Sara will wear the ring Lyra never got to give her and speak on stage at an equal marriage rally in Belfast.

She has been invited to give a speech by Amnesty International and she'll be addressing a crowd at Belfast City Hall - picking up the baton Lyra carried.

"I have lost the woman I was going to marry.

''Speaking tomorrow for equal marriage rights will be hard because I know the person I was doing it for is no longer here.

''But I know it meant so much to Lyra, and it means to much to so many of our friends, I see it as my job to advocate for what Lyra wrote about.

''Her death has given me a platform and a voice - I don't want it and I would give it back in a heartbeat if it could bring Lyra back.

''But I have it and I am going to use it. And I know Lyra would want this. We both want gay people like us to have the same rights as we would if we lived in any other part of the UK."

The world heard how Lyra died on Holy Thursday.

Sara wants people to remember how she lived, how she loved, and who she loved. That's

For their story to be a light toward those better days Lyra promised.