Northern Ireland police have arrested a 57 year-old woman in connection with the murder of lesbian journalist and author Lyra McKee, who was shot during a riot in Derry last week. Police say the woman was arrested under the UK Terrorism Act.
McKee was in the area to cover a police raid at the Creggan council estate, where officers suspected that weapons were being stored. When a riot broke out and a gunman started to fire shots at police, she was shot while standing near a police van.
In a statement given to the Irish News using a recognised code word, the self-styled New IRA have admitted responsibility for McKee’s death.
“On Thursday night following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage,” the statement reads.
“We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.
“In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces. The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.”
Meanwhile, the police investigation into McKee’s death continues. In a statement released yesterday, Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy has said that more than 140 people have contacted officers with information. He adds “This was an attack on the community. Lyra, tragically, was a random victim and I need the public to continue to support us.”
“My appeal today to witnesses who haven’t come forward to us is simple,” he says. “Please, come forward and have a conversation with me.”
Murphy says police are committed to protecting witnesses so as to “bring the gunman who killed Lyra McKee to justice.”
Friends of Lyra McKee mark dissident republican groups’ office with red handprints
A group of McKee’s friends have staged a protest at Junior McDaid house in Derry, which is the headquarters of a number of dissident republican groups including Saoradh.
Photos and video footage from the scene show a crowd looking on as demonstrators mark the walls of the building with red handprints.
Friends of slain journalist Lyra McKee have put red paint handprints over the front of dissident republican HQ Junior McDaid House in Derry in protest over the murder of the 29-year-old
Posted by Leona O'Neill, Journalist on Monday, April 22, 2019
At the demonstration, Sinéad Quinn – a friend of McKee’s – said the people behind her death needed to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
“They need to take the responsibility today for what has happened. They’ve shirked it so far saying it was an accidental shooting,” she said.
“You don’t shoot someone accidentally; when you put a gun in a child’s hand and they shoot it that’s murder. It doesn’t matter. It’s murder and they murdered Lyra McKee.”
The demonstration at Junior McDaid house is the latest among a number of events held to mark the death Lyra McKee, which has triggered an outpouring of grief across Northern Ireland and abroad.
Tributes to McKee on social media have included a controversial post by anti-trans group Woman’s Place UK, who praised McKee as a lesbian activist despite her vocal support for trans rights.
Lyra McKee (1990-2019), Irish journalist, writer and lesbian activist killed while reporting. Winner of 2016 Scottish Refugee Council and Write to End Violence Against Women awards. Penned letter to “my 14 year old self.”https://t.co/BpiWqCHNc2 pic.twitter.com/RpWNwYYGrO
— Womans_Place_UK (@Womans_Place_UK) April 20, 2019
A vigil marking the eve of her funeral will be held at the Garden of Remembrance, Dublin, today at 6.00pm.
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