Tina Calder, owner of Excalibur Press said: “There are times when words aren’t merely enough to convey a message of deep devastation, loss and heartache and this is one of those moments.
“This morning I learned of the tragic murder of my friend Lyra McKee during needless and senseless rioting in Derry/Londonderry last night.
“She was shot and killed by a cowardly masked gunman who was intent on ending life.
“I met Lyra many years ago as a young, determined and ambitious budding reporter. She’d been working with my mum Eileen Calder at the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre in Belfast on a story and my mum suggested she contact me. My mum asked me would I help her in any way I could because my mum saw in her a fire, a talent and the heart of a lion. Qualities, I’m privileged to have come to know.
“From early on in her career Lyra was a disruptor, she was ahead of her time, her obsession with new technologies and her attitude of global thinking made her a force to be reckoned with.
“Her tenacity, determination, ambition and empathy made her an amazing young reporter and investigative writer. Lyra was more than a just a talented journalist, she was an exceptional researcher as well.
“I remember chatting with her many years ago about her investigation into the death of Unionist MP Robert Bradford who was shot and killed in 1981. Lyra had a sense something wasn’t right and she interviewed a number of people who confirmed that there was more of a story to pursue.
“For years she tirelessly pursued the truth, interviewing dozens and dozens of people, unearthing documentation and unravelling a mystery. Her determination to find the truth was so strong she self funded her work before eventually raising money via a crowdfunding like campaign.
“Lyra spent a number of years pitching the book to big publishers and in 2015 when I set up our publishing wing at Excalibur Press she was one of my first calls. But she was focused on that all important book deal with a major publisher and I told her that we’d always be here if she needed us.
“Finally last year, Lyra clinched that book deal with Faber & Faber and we were absolutely delighted for her, I was so proud. I’d watched her go from a young woman on work experience in my office on the Ormeau Road to a globally published reporter and now an author.
“Faber handed her a two-book deal but that wasn’t enough for Lyra. They didn’t want the Robert Bradford story and she was determined that the world should read it. She came back to me and I am privileged and honoured that she trusted my very small publishing company with her baby, her life’s work.
“Earlier this year, with the help of designers Oranga Creative and editor Janine Cobain, we set to work on the “final final final draft” of the book.
“Last week we had Lyra’s final changes through and the book was scheduled for publication towards the end of the month to coincide with the Northern Ireland Festival of Writing. We’d discussed photos and more and she was absolutely delighted with her cover and excited about the launch. I am determined that her book will see the light of day, that her story will be told.
“It’s a sad loss to the journalism world, Lyra was a remarkable young woman who knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to break the mould to get it.
“In 2013 whilst investigating a story about the loss of funding at the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre, Lyra wrote: “There are wrongs you cannot fix. As a younger reporter, I found this so hard to stomach. For me, journalism was about saving the world; if I told the terrible stories, someone would have to do something about them. Someone would sit up and notice.”
“This sums Lyra up perfectly – she cared, she cared very deeply about the people she wrote about and the stories she pursued.
“I am devastated and heartbroken by Lyra’s death and the team at Excalibur Press, our authors and freelancers are in shock.
“Someone in the community knows who lifted that gun, who wore the mask, someone knows who did this. It’s time to bring them to justice.
“The new Northern Ireland, of which Lyra was a shining light, does not want violence and destruction. It’s time to stand up to those who continue to bring us to our knees in grief. It’s time to show them they are no longer in charge.
“I hope we can prove to Lyra that things can change, that people across the country will sit up and notice and that the wrongs can be fixed.”
Excalibur Press editor Janine Cobain said: “Lyra was a talented journalist, an exceptional writer, a voice for those who had faced injustice during the troubles, an advocate for LGBT and a much-loved friend. She will be remembered as a champion, not the victim of senseless violence.”