What should have been a peaceful occasion remembering Lyra McKee on the third anniversary of her death, quickly turned into a day unfortunately filled with protest and violence as masked parade-goers were arrested following a march along the Bogside in Derry commemorating the 1916 Easter Rising.
It's 3 years since the kindest, sweetest, most extraordinary person I knew was murdered by morons in a Derry street. In one hour in one day, Lyra McKee brought more love & joy into people's lives than the men marching today with their pathetic posturing could ever imagine. pic.twitter.com/BlQbM5tcgO
— Suzanne Breen (@SuzyJourno) April 17, 2022
A meeting took place last week involving the parades commission where it was decided that no paramilitary-style clothing was permitted to be worn at the event, a decision that was ignored by those who took part. The parade has been revealed to be connected to the group Saoradh, which has been said to have links with the New IRA – the republican group which claimed it was responsible for McKee’s death.
Following the march, police officers in the area came under attack and subsequently arrested five men aged 29, 38, 40, 50 and 54 years old. They were arrested under the Terrorism Act, and a sixth man was arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour. Petrol bombs were also found to be in the possession of the detained parties.
Chief Superintendent Ryan Henderson stated: “Earlier today, police were in attendance at a notified parade in the city. On the basis of initial observations, participants in the parade were assessed as having potentially committed criminal offences.”
Henderson detailed that “Police monitored the event closely and, at what was considered to be an appropriate point, took action to secure evidence and make arrests… Whilst doing so, police officers came under attack from petrol bombs and masonry.”
This was devastating for the family and friends of Lyra McKee who wished to gather and remember the late journalist on the third anniversary of her death, as the eruption of violence and conflict did not allow them to peacefully do so.
Simon Coveney, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed his condemnation of the event saying, “There is absolutely no place for masked thugs marching anywhere on the island of Ireland.”
He further stated that “Our future won’t be shaped by paramilitary intimidation and the twisted views of an anti-democratic tiny minority.”
Lyra McKee’s family have spoken out about the overshadowing of her anniversary. Her sister Nichola Corner questioned why the event could not have taken place on a different day, while also highlighting that the date of Easter changes every year.
Nichola stated: “When we objected to this parade taking place, it was on the grounds of the date alone, not on the grounds of marching.”
She further expressed that “Had they marched on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, we wouldn’t have cared. It is insulting to go forth on Lyra’s anniversary, to do a parade of this nature honouring other dead. It’s in really bad taste.”
Lyra McKee’s partner Sara Canning also explained: “We’re here to honour someone we loved, and they’re there to honour people who died 106 years ago. That’s my personal take on it and why I think it’s in such bad taste.”
— Kelly Bonner (@KellyBonner) April 18, 2022
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