Northern Ireland

Lyra McKee's partner makes same-sex marriage plea

Lyra McKee Image copyright AFP/GETTY
Image caption Lyra McKee was observing rioting in Londonderry's Creggan estate when she was shot dead last month by dissident republicans

The partner of murdered journalist Lyra McKee has challenged the Prime Minister to legislate for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Sara Canning said she spoke to Theresa May at Ms McKee's funeral in Belfast, asking her to change the laws at Westminster if local politicians failed to act.

Ms McKee, 29, was shot on 18 April while observing rioting in Londonderry.

The New IRA said its members carried out the killing.

Her murder led to an outpouring of grief and calls to politicians in Northern Ireland to return to power-sharing, two-and-a-half years after the government of DUP and Sinn Féin collapsed.

A new talks process began at Stormont on Tuesday.

Ms Canning revealed what she had said to Theresa May in the run-up to a rally in support of a law change on same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

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Media captionBBC News NI looks at the story of the same-sex marriage debate in Northern Ireland so far

She is due to address the event outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday 18 May.

It is being organised by the Love Equality campaign - an umbrella group made up of organisations that support a law change.

"Marriage equality is a cause to which Lyra and I were very committed," said Ms Canning.

"Lyra and I were supposed to be on a big trip to New York this week. We were going to get engaged.

Image caption Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly have voted five times on whether or not to introduce same-sex marriage

"We talked about getting married in Donegal, but really we wanted our love and our marriage to be recognised in Northern Ireland, just the same as the rest of our family members and friends.

"But to date, politicians have stopped that happening here, despite the fact that most people support equal marriage.

"If the politicians won't legislate for equal marriage at Stormont, then the Prime Minister should do it at Westminster. That's what I told Theresa May at Lyra's funeral."

"I wanted her to know that Lyra and I had a right to be treated as equal citizens in our own country.

"Surely that's not too much to ask?"

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Hundreds of mourners attended Lyra McKee's funeral in Belfast's St Anne's Cathedral

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK where same-sex marriage is illegal.

It is currently one of the main sticking points in Stormont's continuing political crisis.

During a vote in November 2015, Northern Ireland MLAs supported same-sex marriage by a slim majority of 53 votes to 52.

However, the motion was blocked by the DUP using a measure known as a petition of concern.

The DUP remains firmly opposed to any redefinition of the law, insisting marriage should be between a man and a woman.

It has resisted Sinn Féin's calls for a change in the law.

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