Lyra McKee: 'Brave' reporter covered her struggle of growing up gay in Belfast

Lyra McKee has been described as a journalist of courage, style and integrity - traits that saw her take to the streets on Thursday night to witness the unrest in Londonderry.

Shortly after tweeting a photo of the disturbances in Creggan, she was fatally shot by a gunman believed to be part of the New IRA, a dissident republican group.

Born and raised in Belfast, she spent her early years living on Cliftonville Road - an area of the city that saw a large number of casualties during the Troubles.

As a rising star in journalism, she extensively covered the Northern Irish conflict and its legacy.

But she rose to prominence following a 2014 blog called Letter To My 14-Year-Old Self in which she spoke about the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast. It was later turned into a short film.

In the years that followed, she became a published author with Angels With Blue Faces - a non-fiction novella about the cold case murder of the Rev Robert Bradford, the MP for South Belfast.

In 2016, Forbes Magazine named her one of their "30 under 30 in media".

The 29-year-old recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber, and the first book, The Lost Boys, was due for release next year.

It is understood Ms McKee had recently moved to Derry to live with her partner while continuing her role as an editor for the California-based news site Mediagazer.

Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) general secretary, said Ms McKee was one of the most promising journalists in Northern Ireland.

She said: "A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence.

"A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us in to darkness."

Fellow journalist Peter McGuire said Ms McKee was a "gifted writer, a kind person and SO generous with her time and knowledge".

He tweeted: "So young - horrific & heartbreaking news from Derry tonight."

Seamus Dooley, Irish secretary of the National Union of Journalists, wrote: "Shocked by news that woman shot dead in Derry last night has been named locally as @NUJofficial Lyra McKee.

"We are shocked by killing of a journalist of courage, style and integrity. Sympathy to her partner, family and many friends."

Lilly Dancyger, a New York-based editor at digital publication Narratively, said Ms McKee was "dedicated to covering the lasting trauma & violence of the Troubles".

"Devastating to hear she was killed tonight by that same violence," she tweeted.