Irish journalist and activist killed during a riot

Faith Arcuri, Staff Reporter

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Twenty-nine year old Irish journalist Lyra McKee was shot to death during a riot by a dissident Republican on Thursday, April 18 in Derry, Ireland.

McKee passed away at the age of 29 and grew up in Belfast, UK. She faced the danger of covering the untold stories from the three decades of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

Dissident Republicans are a small group of Irish nationalists who remain committed to using brute force to end British rule in Ireland. They classify the Republican party Sinn Fein as traitors for accepting the Good Friday Agreement, which was signed in 1998.

The Good Friday Agreement is a peace agreement between the British and Irish government that says that Northern Ireland would remain in the UK and there will be no change without the consent of the majority.

McKee was a journalist from Northern Ireland who was reporting on “The Troubles,” a ethno-nationalists’ conflict in Northern Ireland.

There have been multiple suspects as to who killed McKee, and the first was the New IRA.

The New IRA is a Republican dissident group which has been designated a terrorist group by the United States. It formed to unite Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The New IRA has claimed responsibility for McKee’s death. In a speech formally apologizing for the events that occured, the New IRA says, “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.”

One suspect was an unnamed 57-year-old women who has been arrested under the Terrorism Act, but she has been released several hours later.

Although there has not been a suspect kept in custody, there has been new video footage released of a possible suspect. In this video, there is a man walking across Central Drive in the Creggan area a minute before McKee was shot. The gunman is believed to work for the New IRA.

Police has called on the public to help identify the short, stocky man who authorities believe are responsible for her death.

“I think people in the community know who they are and I’m asking them today to come forward to help us. I’m releasing footage today from the night of Lyra’s murder and I want to appeal to anyone who recognises or knows these people to talk to us,” Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said.

While the process to figure out who murdered Lyra McKee has been difficult, McKee’s friends have found it easy to keep her memory alive.

Her friends have staged a protest at the Junior McDaid House to show dissident Republicans that they are responsible for what happened, at that her blood is on their hands.

At this protest, they placed red paint hand prints on the walls and over a sign to represent McKee’s blood and her death.

During the protest, Sinead Quinn, one of McKee’s friends stated, “They need to take the responsibility today for what has happened. They have shirked it so far by saying it was an accidental shooting. You don’t shoot accidentally. When you put a gun in someone’s hands and they shoot it, that’s murder. It doesn’t matter, it was murder, and they murdered Lyra McKee.”

Many people have grieved the loss of McKee, and it has even brought the country together. The Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O’Neill and the Democratic Unionist Party Leader of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster attended the funeral.  In a joint statement, Foster says, “This was an attack on everybody in Northern Ireland. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Catholic or a Protestant, British or Irish, this is an attack on democracy.”

Lyra McKee is one of the most well known journalists in Ireland. She was a LGBTQ advocate and was listed in Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Journalist, and she will be dearly missed.

“We are all poorer for the loss of Lyra. Our hopes and dreams and all of her amazing potential was snuffed out by a single barbaric act. This can not 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 light that she has left behind,” said Sara Canning, McKee’s partner at a press conference.

 

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