Families must urge relatives to leave violent dissident groups – police chief

By Tony Diver, Press Association

The families of members of violent dissident organisations should urge their relatives to “step away”, the deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has said.

Speaking at a press conference about the shooting of journalist Lyra McKee, 29, Stephen Martin said violence was “out of step with the wishes not only of the people of this city, but the people of this island”.

He asked the public to “turn something good from last night’s appalling events” and ask their relatives not to take part in violence.

Ms McKee was shot in the head and killed on Thursday night during disturbances in Londonderry.

Police said the New IRA was “most likely” to be behind Ms McKee’s death.

Deputy chief constable Martin said: “As well as making an appeal today for people to come forward with what they know to assist the investigation, I have another appeal today.

“There are people in this city who will know the people they love are involved in organisations like the New IRA. I would urge those people to have conversations in their home, in their family space, in Lyra’s memory.

Police forensic officers at the scene in Londonderry where Lyra McKee was shot and killed (Brian Lawless/PA)

“And to urge the people they love to step away from such violence and to step away from such organisations, and to recognise how out of step they are with the wishes not only of the people of this city, but the people of this island.

“We all want to live in peace. We all want a better future for our children, and last night’s actions are just so out of step with what all of us want.

“So I would urge people, in Lyra’s memory, have those conversations. Let’s turn something good from last night’s appalling events.”

Irish President Michael D Higgins signing the book of condolence at Belfast City Hall in remembrance of murdered journalist Lyra McKee (Liam McBurney/PA)

He added that people should pursue republican or unionist causes through “discourse”, and that “carrying out violence is completely unacceptable”.

“There are people in this society who can have those conversations and try to get people to step away from those organisation,” he said.

“People are entitled to desire to retain a link with the United Kingdom. People are entitled to pursue a united Ireland. Do it through politics, do it through discourse.”