A self-titled documentary ‘Lyra’ has been aired in Sheffield.

It tells the story of Lyra McKee, a 29 yr. old journalist. She was murdered in Derry in 2019 by the new IRA whilst observing a riot. 

She was the 160th conflict victim to be killed since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that promised no more death. 

The director of the film, Alison Millar, held a Q&A after the screening at the Showroom cinema. She spoke in detail about Lyra and the making of the documentary. 

Alison Millar said: “I first met Lyra when she was 16 (in 2008). I thought she was a schoolgirl on placement, and she went “No I’m Lyra McKee, I just won the Young Sky Journalist of the Year award”. I was put in my place, and we became friends after that.

“She was due to come for dinner at my house the next night (after she was shot).”

The documentary follows Lyra’s life as a journalist, using clips and snippets from her career highlighting her vivacious and inquisitive personality. 

Alison said: “Using her writing and her voice meant that the gunman hadn’t silenced her, and this meant that we could give her back her voice.

“We wanted three lines of narrative – the first being who was lyra, then the ongoing fight for justice (in her murder case). The third was building this landscape of this place ‘the North of Ireland.”

When asked about the seeming lack of male voices in the documentary, Alison said: “I think Lyra was surrounded by strong women all her life. I was lucky to make this film around incredibly strong women. So, it wasn’t a choice (to use majoritively female voices), it was a necessity.

“There is a massive history in reporting of the conflict (in Northern Ireland) that has been 96% male voices. Lyra struggled a lot with having her voice heard.

“She was able to navigate through every part of the community, she had interviewed the most terrifying terrorists. When I spoke to them, they all said: “She was a great girl, she wasn’t scared, she rang my doorbell.”

The documentary won the Tim Hetherington Award here in Sheffield earlier this year at the Doc Festival. Lyra is now touring the country before it will air on Channel 4 next April. 

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