Northern Ireland journalist is killed; police hunt suspects

29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee was shot and killed

Armed police stage at the scene of unrest in Creggan, Londonderry, in Northern Ireland, Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

Police in Northern Ireland said Friday they are searching for multiple suspects in the fatal shooting of a journalist during overnight rioting in the city of Londonderry.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said 29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee was shot and killed, probably by a stray bullet, during rioting in the city’s Creggan neighbourhood. It said the dissident group, the New IRA, was most likely responsible.

READ MORE: U.S. tells Saudis to hold ‘accountable’ killers of journalist

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said a gunman fired a number of shots at police during the unrest Thursday evening.

“We believe this to be a terrorist act,” he said. “We believe it has been carried out by violent dissident republicans.”

Hamilton said the force’s assessment “is that the New IRA are most likely to be the ones behind this and that forms our primary line of inquiry.”

McKee was a rising talent who had written eloquently about the challenges of coming out as gay in Northern Ireland. Her partner, Sara Canning, told a vigil that McKee’s amazing potential had been snuffed out.

“It has left so many friends without their confidante,” she said.

Canning said the senseless murder “has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with.”

A murder investigation has been launched but there have been no arrests yet. Police appealed for calm to prevail over the long Easter holiday weekend.

Speaking in Dublin, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland had chosen peace and co-operation 21 years ago and will not be “dragged into the past” by political violence.

The New IRA is a small group who reject the 1998 Good Friday agreement that marked the Irish Republican Army’s embrace of a political solution to the long-running violence known as “The Troubles” that claimed more than 3,700 lives.

The group is also blamed for a Londonderry car bombing that did not cause any injuries in January. It is regarded as the largest of the splinter dissident groups still operating and has been linked to several other killings in the past decade.

Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said Friday that police believe more than one person was involved in the shooting.

“We certainly believe there was more than one person who was involved in this last night. Obviously only one person pulled the trigger but there was more than one person,” he said.

He said the violence started after police entered the area to search for weapons and that the gunman was aiming at policemen when the rioting intensified.

“The full and total responsibility for Lyra McKee’s death lies with the organization that sent someone out with a gun,” he said.

Londonderry Mayor John Boyle said the city was united in mourning McKee’s death.

“I have known her since she was 16 years old,” he said. “She was bright, she was warm, she was witty. But most of all she was an outstanding individual, a great friend to so, so many people in this city in the short time that she was with us.”

There has been an increase in tensions in Northern Ireland in recent months with sporadic violence, much of it focused in Londonderry, also known as Derry.

McKee rose to prominence in 2014 with a moving blog post — “Letter to my 14 year old self ” — describing the struggle of growing up gay in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

In the post, she described the shame she felt at 14 as she kept the “secret” of being gay from her family and friends and the love she eventually received when she was finally able to reveal it.

McKee had recently signed a contract to write two books.

Hours before her death, she tweeted a photo of the riot with the words: “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”

Gregory Katz, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Police forensic officers at the scene in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Friday April 19, 2019, following the death of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed during overnight rioting. Police in Northern Ireland said Friday they are investigating the fatal shooting of a journalist during overnight rioting in the city of Londonderry.

In this undated family photo made available Friday April 19, 2019, issued by Northern Ireland Police, showing journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed when guns were fired during clashes with police Thursday night April 18, 2019, in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Police are investigating the shooting death of 29-year-old McKee, during street violence Thursday night.(Family photo/PSNI via AP)

Just Posted

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

“Scirocco” the unicorn, built collaboratively by CAP, Apex, Equinox, Gathering Place and Nexus program students under the guidance of artist Alex Witcombe of Drifted Creations, in its home in the middle of Robron Centre’s courtyard. SD72 photo
Building community at Campbell River’s Robron Centre one piece of driftwood at a time

Passing by the courtyard at Robron Centre one can’t help but stop… Continue reading

Windy conditions in Campbell River Nov. 27 made for some picturesque wave action at Ken Forde Park. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Campbell River region wakes up to windy day

The Campbell River area woke up to blustery conditions on Friday, Nov.… Continue reading

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Screenshot of Pastor James Butler giving a sermon at Free Grace Baptist Church in Chilliwack on Nov. 22, 2020. The church has decided to continue in-person services despite a public health order banning worship services that was issued on Nov. 19, 2020. (YouTube)
2 Lower Mainland churches continue in-person services despite public health orders

Pastors say faith groups are unfairly targeted and that charter rights protect their decisions

A big job: Former forests minister Doug Donaldson stands before a 500-year-old Douglas fir in Saanich to announce preservation of some of B.C.’s oldest trees, July 2019. (B.C. government)
B.C. returning to ‘stand-alone’ forests, rural development ministry

Horgan says Gordon Campbell’s super-ministry doesn’t work

Most Read