Police working on the investigation into the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry last year have said the “net is tightening” around the killer following the recovery of the weapon used in the murder by police last weekend.
After conducting forensic testing on the gun, a German Hammerli X-Esse pistol, police confirmed that it was the same one used in the killing of Ms McKee on April 18, 2019.
Dissident republicans claimed responsibility for the murder.
In February 2020, the PSNI charged 52 year-old Paul McIntyre in connection with the murder of Ms McKee.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said they had been following a line of enquiry that the gun had been stolen “some time ago”.
“I also know that that gun was used a number of times prior to Lyra’s murder, but at this stage, because those matters remain under investigation I cannot confirm any further details,” he said.
Detective Superintendent Murphy said that “a number of New IRA figures were involved in producing the gun that night”.
“I know who they are and the public know who they are and also I know who the gunman is,” he said.
Detective Superintendent Murphy said that the gun is to undergo further forensic testing.
Lyra’s family and partner Sara Canning were informed about the gun yesterday, June 11. Detective Superintendent said they were “grateful and relieved” to hear the news.
“For the New IRA the net is tightening, one positive result will have significant consequences for the New IRA,” Detective Superintendent Murphy said.
Leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood yesterday welcomed progress in the investigation.
Eastwood said: “The recovery of the gun used in the murder is significant and I hope that it will lead to further developments.
“Those responsible for taking the life of a young journalist in Derry need to understand that there was nothing patriotic about it.
“There is no honour to be found in the murder of someone with so much to contribute to our city and our island.
“They have set themselves against the people of Derry and the people of Ireland.
“They must face justice.
“I am renewing my appeal to the people of our city.
“If you have any information about Lyra’s murder, no matter how small, and you haven’t come forward yet, now is the moment.
“We all have a part to play in ending the grip of violent men on our communities.”
Lyra’s partner, Sara Canning, told Sky News: “A lot of the news we have got over the past 15 months has been bitter-sweet.
“This should never have happened, no one should ever have had to look for a gun. No one should ever have been in danger that night.
“But the fact that we have it now and it’s off the streets, means there’s one less danger. That’s huge. It’s another step on the path to getting justice.”
If you have any information you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.
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