Journalist who wrote about the troubles in her native Northern Ireland

Born: March 31, 1990;

Died: April 18 2019

LYRA McKee, who has died aged 29, was a journalist who rose to prominence in 2014 after a blog post called "Letter to my 14-year-old self" in which she spoke about the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast. She was shot in the head in what police are treating as a terrorist incident, amid disturbances in Londonderry last week.

In the five years that followed Letter to my 14-year-old self, the piece was turned into a short film, she became a published author with Angels With Blue Faces, and she had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber, as well as appearing in domestic and international publications.

Named as one of the "30 under 30 in media" by Forbes Magazine in 2016, McKee was cited for her passion of digging into topics that others don't care about.

Angels With Blue Faces, a non-fiction book about the Troubles-era cold case murder of South Belfast MP Rev Robert Bradford, was released in 2018 and her latest book, The Lost Boys, is due for publication by Faber & Faber next year.

The book, which described the author as a rising star of investigative journalism, focuses on the story of Thomas Spence and John Rodgers, who vanished near the Falls Road in west Belfast in November 1974.

McKee grew up on Belfast's Cliftonville Road, just off the infamous Murder Mile, the area which saw more casualties per square foot than any other part of the city during the Troubles.

It is understood Ms McKee, who had worked as an editor for California-based news site Mediagazer, a trade publication covering the media industry, had recently moved to Derry to live with her partner - she was a prominent campaigner for gay rights.

She said she was taught as a child by the church that she would go to hell because of her orientation. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK or Ireland where same-sex marriage is not permitted.

Ms McKee said: "We need to do the one thing that I didn't want to do when I left school at 16 - we need to have conversations, difficult conversations, and fight for the hearts and minds of those who oppose us."

She said she hated herself for much of her life because of what religion taught her about people like her. She recalled in a TedX talk at Stormont: "The first lesson I learned about being gay was that it was evil and I was going to hell for it, I learned that from the Bible.

"There were times that I would cry in my bedroom as a teenager, bargaining with God, asking him not to send me to hell because I was so convinced that I was going there.

"This text, this Bible, for many people it offers them hope and salvation, but for me it offered a prison sentence, and I think it is the same for a lot of other LGBT young people."

McKee once said that the death of an innocent civilian caught in the wrong place at the wrong time was one of her strongest memories of the conflict.

The journalist wrote about loyalist gunmen who sprayed a north Belfast pub with bullets at the start of 1998 as politicians were gearing up to sign the Good Friday Agreement.

She recalled the death and added: "He was an innocent civilian, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time."

She used a Belfast Telegraph newspaper piece to highlight the loss of people to suicide since the 1994 paramilitary ceasefires.

She recalled the revulsion expressed in August 1998 when dissident republicans killed 29 shoppers in Omagh in a bomb attack gone wrong. It was the bloodiest atrocity of the conflict and Ms McKee said the majority had wanted the senseless violence to end.

The plight of the homeless was also a foremost concern for her.

Friend Ian Shanks said: "Lyra McKee was everything you wanted to be in life - honest, funny, sincere, caring. I remember how she always wanted to help with our homeless group, she always genuinely cared about everyone around her and beyond."