20.4.19

Terror police arrest two men, 18 and 19, over murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Lyra McKee, 29, had extensively covered the legacy of the Troubles, and was filming clashes between dissidents and police when she was killed. Here she is in a new picture released by her family yesterday
Two men have been arrested under the terrorism act in connection with the shooting of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed as she covered rioting in Londonderry on Thursday night
 The arrests come after the 'New IRA' claimed that the gunman was 'attempting to protect' Creggan estate from 'heavily-armed' police during the riots. Police earlier released CCTV footage of the masked gunman suspected of having shot dead the young journalist and it shows Lyra in the crowd lifting her phone to take pictures just moments before she was killed. As the footage moves on, a masked gunman is shown lurking near the corner of a nearby building. The man is then spotted later on in the same area just moments before he takes aim at officers. Police in Ireland have called the killing 'senseless and appalling' after Lyra, from Belfast, was shot in the head by suspects, believed to be dissident republicans linked to the New IRA, as they clashed with police on the Creggan estate. Saoradh, a political party that reflects New IRA thinking, released a statement blamed the murder on an 'incursion' by 'heavily armed crown forces' in the Creggan estate, and that the gunman was 'attempting to defend people' from police officers.

Rioting had erupted following raids by police, who said they were trying to prevent militant attacks planned for Easter weekend, a time when dissidents are traditionally active due to the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. A senior detective leading the case has said the only way to find those responsible is if the community helps. Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: 'People saw the gunman and people saw those who goaded young people out onto the streets, people know who they are. 'The answers to what happened last night lie within the community. I am asking people to do the right thing for Lyra McKee, for her family and for the city of Derry/Londonderry and help us stop this madness.' He added that her death was 'senseless and appalling beyond belief' and highlighted that it represents the tragic loss of promise and loss of potential.' However, it should not be a loss of hope. We know that the people of Creggan do not support what happened and they stand with us today in outrage and disgust at the mayhem that took place on their streets last night.'

Police have urged those who have footage to send it directly to them, in order to aid their investigation and prevent further distress to Lyra's family and the local community. Earlier today Sara Canning, the girlfriend of Lyra, who was shot dead while covering a riot in Londonderry, called for peace so that her beloved partner's death is 'not in vain'.Ms Canning paid tribute to a 29-year-old partner today in front of hundreds of people attending a vigil in her memory and described her killing as a 'senseless murder'.Ms McKee, 29, was hit by a stray bullet after a masked gunman opened fire towards a crowd of police officers and bystanders at around 11pm, as republican dissidents rioted in the city's Creggan estate. Police in Northern Ireland confirmed they are hunting 'multiple suspects' after they blamed the New IRA for the murder of the journalist.

Speaking at the vigil, Ms Canning said: 'It has left so many friends without their confidante. Victims and LGBTQI community are left without a tireless advocate and activist and it has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with are all passed in the loss of Lyra.our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potentials was snuffed out by this single barbaric act.' This cannot stand, Lyra's death must not be in vain because her life was a shining light in everyone else's life and her legacy will live on and the life that she has left behind.' Tonight the latest winner of the Man Booker prize has paid a tearful tribute to a murdered Belfast journalist. Milkman author Anna Burns was among hundreds who turned out at Belfast City Hall for a vigil to Lyra McKee and stood for a minute's silence, which was followed with applause. The books of condolence for Ms McKee was brought to the front steps of the building after the doors were officially closed for the night to allow those waiting in a long queue to sign it. A smiling photograph of the 29-year-old journalist gazed across the rainbow flag-draped table which held two condolence books for well-wishers to sign as well as a small posy of forget-me-nots. Those attending were asked to talk to each other in memory of Ms McKee who they were reminded, loved conversations. 

John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Coalition read out Ms McKee's 'Letter To My 14-year-old Self', in which she had written evocatively about facing challenging times at school and the moment she came out as gay to her mother, and relief when her mother embraced her. Next three friends of Ms McKee's, who had been due to meet her for dinner that evening, shared their memories of their friend. Michele Devlin, Anna Burns and Alison Miller supported each other as they tearfully addressed the vigil. Ms Burns described Ms McKee as a 'dear, dear friend' that she had met through their mutual publisher Faber and Faber.' It's absolutely wonderful that you are all here for Lyra,' she told the crowd, many of whom held candles.' She was just so helpful and generous, her wee heart was always open.' Police revealed earlier that the New IRA was 'most likely' behind the killing, and that Ms McKee was a 'completely innocent bystander' who was struck accidentally as the gunman aimed towards uniformed officers. Irish and British politicians widely condemned the murder, with the city mayor John Boyle claiming: 'It doesn't matter if you call it Derry of Londonderry; this city is united with one voice... against this heinous murder.'



This evening, residents of the area walked past a wall which was plastered with graffiti which read 'IRA is done, defeated army'.There still appeared to be a heavy police presence in the area which police trucks were parked along main roads and in residential areas. Tributes including flowers and heartfelt notes were also left at the scene of the shooting. One single bunch of flowers was left on some steps, which bore a sign above it which read 'injury to all'.

Tributes left on a fundraising page said Ms McKee 'just wanted to expose the truth' and was an 'incredible investigative journalist and a defender of press freedom'. Her first book, Angels With Blue Faces, is a non-fiction investigation of the murder of Robert Bradford, a Methodist minister and Ulster Unionist MP for South Belfast who was killed by the IRA in 1981. One person wrote on the page: 'Lyra was a passionate defender of press freedom and exposing the truth. You don't expect journalists to be killed anywhere.' For it to happen to a friend, in a (troubled) democracy, is just unbelievable.' Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said this afternoon that police were hunting multiple suspects following the shooting but refused to be drawn on suggestions that the gunman who killed Ms McKee was a teenage boy. Speaking during an emotional press conference at the Guildhall in Londonderry, he said: '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. This was not done to further any cause - this will have achieved nothing other than to plunge a family into grief.' 

Ms McKee had covered the legacy of the Troubles extensively and spoke of being segregated from Protestants while growing up on Belfast's 'Murder Mile', a road notorious for the high number of locals killed by Ulster loyalists. Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton said more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police during the riots as he described the killing as 'not only a murder of a young woman, it is an attack again on the people of this city'.He then pointed the finger at the New IRA, an amalgamation of dissident republican factions in the city, which was blamed for a car bombing in Bishop Street in January, as he called for calm in the city ahead of Easter. Speaking about the shock of Ms McKee's death, close friend Matthew Hughes told MailOnline: 'The loss her friends feel is unquantifiable.
Unfathomable. She is utterly irreplaceable.' Paying tribute to his friend, he added: 'It was just after midnight, my wife got a call from Lyra's partner. It was probably one of the worst phone calls I've ever overheard in my life.' I heard the word 'shot', and that she was dead. Lyra was one of my best friends, she was a grooms woman at my wedding; she helped me tie my tie before the wedding. We'd travelled abroad together; we were very, very close.' Mr Hughes said he had known Ms McKee for five years and understood his friend had been killed by a stray bullet, according to Ms McKee's partner, who was at the scene. He added: 'Lyra was such a brilliant, kind, compassionate person, and so unbelievably good; as a journalist, as a storyteller, as a person.


'I called an ambulance for her but police put her in the back of their vehicle and rushed her to the hospital where she died. Just 29 years old. Sick to my stomach tonight.' And local political candidate Emmet Doyle said: 'A masked figure stopped at the bottom of the road and fired shots up towards the Land Rovers.' We all turned and ran, I stopped beside the Land Rover nearer the top of the street and a girl beside me dropped to the ground.' Prime Minister Theresa May called the death of Ms McKee a 'shocking and truly senseless' loss of life in a statement today.' My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues,' she said. 

'She was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage.' Speaking at a press conference at Strand Road PSNI station in Londonderry, Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said journalist Ms McKee was murdered by dissident republicans. He said police had been carrying out a search operation in the Creggan area of Derry when a situation developed during which more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police and two cars hijacked and set on fire. 'Unfortunately, at 11pm last night, a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots towards police and a young woman, Lyra McKee, 29 years old, was wounded,' she said.' She was taken away in a police landrover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately, she has died there. We have now launched a murder inquiry here in the city. 'Can I say also, I want to pass my deepest sympathies to the family of Ms McKee, this is a horrendous act, it is unnecessary, it is uncalled for, it's totally unjustified.'But not only is it a murder of a young woman, it is an attack again on the people of this city.'I stood here in January and we talked about the bomb and the act of violence against this city, and yet again we see another act of violence in this city which has had horrendous consequences and which will affect people for many, many years.'I would appeal to people, particularly this Easter weekend, to stay calm, I would appeal to people who are intent on violence to drawback, I would appeal to people with influence to use your influence and make sure this is peaceful weekend. Not only this weekend but going forward in this city.' These acts of violence are bringing nothing to this city, all they are doing is bringing misery to one family, but also particularly to this city and also to our broader province.
' Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was murdered by the IRA in 1984, said Ms McKee was a 'kind, gentle, witty and stubborn soul'.' I have just heard, that my lovely friend Lyra was murdered tonight in Derry. I just can't believe, that this witty, clever human being has been taken... Feel sick.' Fellow journalist Peter McGuire said Ms McKee was a 'gifted writer, a kind person and SO generous with her time and knowledge'. 'So young - horrific & heartbreaking news from Derry tonight,' he tweeted. 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 the 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 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. Ms Dancyger shared an article written by Ms McKee about the families of Troubles victims.'I was Lyra's editor on this story, and it was an honour. Sharing her work now is all I can think to do,' she said.

She said: 'I am shocked and saddened at the tragic news that a young woman has been shot dead by so-called dissidents in the Creggan estate tonight.' The murder of this young woman is a human tragedy for her family, but it is also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on our peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement.' unreservedly condemn those responsible for killing this young woman. We will remain resolute in our opposition to the pointless actions of these people who care nothing for the people of Derry.' DUP leader Arlene Foster said that news of the death was 'heartbreaking' and that it was a 'senseless act'.those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80 and 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back,' she said.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said she was 'deeply shocked and saddened' to hear of the death.' My thoughts and condolences are with her family at this time. Those responsible for last night's violence have nothing to offer anyone in Northern Ireland.' Their intolerable actions are rejected by the overwhelming majority of people who want to build a peaceful and more prosperous future for everyone in Northern Ireland. Mark H Durkan, SDLP MLA for Foyle, said he was left 'heartbroken and angry' by the killing. 'Just leaving Creggan, heartbroken and angry at the senseless loss of a young life,' he tweeted.'Violence only creates victims, that's all it ever has done. The thoughts and prayers of our city are with the young woman's family and friends, may she rest in peace.' Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said a murder inquiry had been launched after the death.
He said: 'Sadly I can confirm that following shots being fired tonight in Creggan, a 29-year-old woman has been killed.' We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder inquiry.' PSNI officers were searching houses in the Creggan area when the disorder broke out. Bricks, bottles and fireworks were hurled at police officers and a car and a van was seen burned out in the area. The trouble comes after the announcement on Monday that 'Soldier B' will be prosecuted for the murder of 15-year-old Daniel Hegarty in the Creggan area in July 1972. He will also be prosecuted on a second charge of wounding with intent. The Police Service of Northern Ireland wrote on Twitter: 'Police are appealing for calm after a number of shots have been fired and petrol bombs were thrown in the Creggan area of Derry. Gary Middleton, the DUP member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for Foyle, tweeted: 'Disgraceful scenes of violence in the Creggan estate tonight.' PSNI and members of the public being put in danger by unrepresentative thugs intent on destroying communities.'

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