A LOCAL disability campaigner has revealed how Lyra McKee travelled to Omagh and introduced him to the “love of her life” just days before she was murdered by the ‘New IRA’.
Dermot Devlin, from Greencastle, attended Lyra’s funeral at St Anne’s Cathedral yesterday (Wednesday).
The 29-year-old journalist was killed by a dissident republican gunman as she observed a riot in the Creggan area of the city last Thursday night.
In a poignant blog, Mr Devlin said he “clicked” with Lyra when they first met five years ago as they shared a passion for social equality.
Lyra was an avid campaigner for LGBT rights while he fought for the rights of those with disabilities.
Mr Devlin also revealed that Lyra met him in Omagh on the Saturday before she was killed.
Mr Devlin wrote, “Lyra always felt that myself in the disability community and herself in the LGBT community shared a lot of the same pain and fight to be accepted by the world around us.
“We would spend many a nights chatting on the phone about this until 3am. She was there on the phone when I needed someone to cry to and I was there when she needed to cry.”
On the Saturday before she was murdered, Ms McKee drove to Omagh to meet Mr Devlin and introduce him to the “love of her life Sara.”
He added, “In all the time I have known Lyra, I have never seen her so happy. She was enjoying life and saw so much potential in her future.
“Lyra saw so much in everyone she met, she wanted to help them in anyway she could.
“When someone greets you by asking you how you are, we are used to rhyming off generic responses, but Lyra wouldn’t let you go until she got the real and deep answers.
“She was interested in people and genuinely cared after their well-being.
“My life was made better by knowing Lyra and by calling her my close friend.
“Last Saturday, we hugged, said we loved each other and waved goodbye.”
Devastated by the loss of his dear friend, Mr Devlin said, “I am still wiping away the tears and begging for it not to be true.”
Meanwhile, a priest received a standing ovation at Lyra’s funeral on Wednesday when he asked mourners why it took her death to unite political parties.
Fr Martin Magill asked, “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?”
Sinn Féin leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill sat beside DUP leader Arlene Foster during the service.
It was also attended by church and political leaders including President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Teresa May, while members of the NUJ provided a guard of honour at the request of Ms McKee’s family.