Mother who lost son to violence will stand in solidarity with Lyra McKee's family

Joan Deane can empathise with the family and partner of Lyra McKee.

That's why she and her friend Eileen Quinn are organising an event outside the GPO at 1pm tomorrow to mark her murder.

Joan is well known as the founder and current vice chair of AdVIC (Advocates for the Victims of Homicide).

Joan Deane, with inset, the late Lyra McKee
Joan Deane, with inset, the late Lyra McKee

Her son, Russell, was killed as a result of horrendous violence back in 2003. He was aged just 28, one year younger than Lyra.

The journalist was shot dead by the New IRA as she observed a riot in the Creggan area of Derry on Thursday night.

“My friend Eileen rang me and said 'I really want to do this, will you join me?'” said Joan. “I have never gone out for anything before, but this is so horrendous, so needless, a young life snuffed out.”

She said Russell died after being attacked in his home in Co Louth. Two people were subsequently convicted of manslaughter.

“He was so young and it was such a needless killing, that's why I can empathise with her family and her partner. She was, like my son, on the cusp of her life. She seemed to be very bright and intelligent.”

Joan said her family and her partner were probably in a “fog-type situation” at the moment.

“They are probably going through things like a robot, putting one foot in front of another. The awfulness and reality of it will set in later on. From my own experience, you are grieving for your loss, the death of your son, but it also what your son has lost.”

Joan said: “Lyra's family will mourn for themselves, but they will really mourn what Lyra has lost out in the future, all that potential.

“You do recover from your loss, but I never recovered from what my son has lost and they might feel the same.

"She seemed to have amazing potential. Now she is just gone. It is going to be very hard for the family and her partner to accept she is no longer there, the finality of it.”

The violence attached to her death, just as to Joan's son, is an added cause of grief for loved ones.

“The manner of her death will haunt them," she said. "Her final moments, that is something they will live with for the rest of their lives – was she in pain, what did she feel, why was I not able to protect her?”

She said the actions of the gunman were very difficult to understand: “They didn't care who they shot. What are they fighting for? All the people involved in that murder and the young woman who died have never experienced what violence looks like in the North.”

Joan said the violence happened in a political vacuum: “Sooner or later the politicians will have to go back to work and do their job. If this doesn't force them to do it how long more must we wait? How many other lives will have to be lost?”

What impact do they hope the event will have?

“I don't know. In my experience, it was the goodness of people that got me through. The kindness does matter, you feel so helpless.

“We just want to show solidarity, we don't have anything planned. We will just go there, stand in silence. It's mothers standing in solidarity with another mother.”

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