Journalist killing: 'Lyra's murder wasn't regrettable... it was despicable'

The partner of Lyra McKee, the journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland earlier this year, has condemned what she regards as an attempt to justify her murder.

Sara Canning spoke to Sky News after the leader of a party, allegedly linked to the New IRA, described the death as "regrettable" but refused to condemn it.

She said: "Lyra's murder wasn't was despicable and the fact of the matter is, no one should have been shot that night, no one's life should have been lost, no one is a legitimate target anymore.

"We are living in a different time and to try to justify it by saying the police presence was responsible for Lyra's death, the police were there to do a job and these people brought a gun onto the streets," she added.

She was responding to comments by Brian Kenna, a convicted IRA member, once jailed for armed robbery, who now leads a political party called Saoradh (Liberation).

Police say Saoradh is "inextricably linked" to the New IRA. Mr Kenna denies that but refuses to condemn attacks by the terror group.

He said: "The death of Lyra McKee was a very tragic event. It genuinely came about because of the heavy presence of the PSNI, flooding into Derry at seven o'clock in the evening, into parts of the Creggan.

"It was shocking and tragic and we're on record as saying that we regret that death very, very much," he added.

Asked by Sky News is he knew the gunman, who remains at large, Mr Kenna replied: "No, I've no idea of the events of that night."

He refused to call for a ceasefire, claiming "young Irish people have always taken up arms" and "that is going to continue."

"I believe that it's inevitable. It will always happen so long as the country is artificially divided and held by force of arms, people will always strike out against that occupation," he added.

Lyra McKee was reporting on a riot in Londonderry when a gunman opened fire on police lines, shooting dead the 29-year-old journalist.

Her partner Sara said: "No one voted in favour of violence. People want to leave that behind.

"A lot of people want to see unification on the island of Ireland but that can only ever be achieved by a democratic means and what they're doing isn't democratic.

"They're not revolutionaries. There is no revolution here," she added.

She said those peddling hate did not understand that the New IRA had robbed her of a woman she describes as "the love of her life".

"I relive that day over and over again and I wake up in the morning, the first person I want to talk to is Lyra and when I go to bed at night, she's the last thought on my mind," she added.