Lyra McKee’s dissident republican killers urged to disband

By Michelle Devane and Michael McHugh, Press Association

The killers of murdered journalist Lyra McKee have been urged to disband.

A demonstration by republicans who embrace the peace process said their violent dissident counterparts were caught in a futile and antiquated time warp.

The journalist and published author, 29, died after she was shot in the head by a member of the New IRA during a Londonderry riot.

Her funeral will be held in her native Belfast on Wednesday.

The landmark Free Derry Corner has been repainted to include the words “not in our name – RIP Lyra” to reflect community revulsion felt at the killing.

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee (Joe Boland/PA)

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said: “To those young people circling these people consider what type of future you want for your kids and grandkids – there are two futures on offer – one of peace, opportunity and Irish reunification.

“Or one of death, imprisonment which serves no cause, community or people.

“Ask yourself what type of life and what type of Ireland do you want to be part of?

“It is high time these people disbanded and ended their futile actions which are a barrier to achieving Irish unity.”

She addressed a commemoration of the Easter Rising battle for Irish independence at the City cemetery in Londonderry on Sunday.

Republicans carried photos of former IRA members killed during the 30-year conflict.

Police have arrested two teenagers they suspect are members of the dissident republican gang involved in shooting Miss McKee.

A gunman aiming to kill police hit her after firing indiscriminately during disturbances in the Creggan estate.

Mrs O’Neill said: “Sadly, what we have here is a small number of people caught in a time warp who have self appointed themselves to carry out actions which are pointless, anti-peace, anti-community and frankly, antiquated.”

Among those to lay a wreath for republican dead was Tiernan Heaney, aged 23, whose IRA uncle Dennis Heaney was shot in the city by British soldiers in 1978 when he went to “commandeer” a vehicle.

Mr Heaney said he identified with LGBTQI activist Miss McKee as he himself is gay.

He said: “It is absolutely disgusting that that life was there and then it was just taken away by some stupid act.

“There is palpable anger in the Creggan area and all over the city and across the north of Ireland and the island.

“It is horrific, it should never have happened.”

Journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed when guns were fired and petrol bombs were thrown in Londonderry (Family handout/PA)

“The people who brought guns on to the street, and those who organised them do not represent any version of Irish republicanism,” Ms O’Neill told those gathered at the commemoration.

“They have no politics, no strategy, and no popular support amongst the vast number of ordinary people from this city, or anywhere else in the country.”

Sara Canning, the partner of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee (Brian Lawless/PA)

Catholic bishop Donal McKeown addressed Mass-goers on Sunday at a church just yards from where Miss McKee and her partner Sara Canning had made their home.

He said: “So, on this Easter morning, we gather with deep sadness in our hearts and without any simplistic message about the Resurrection.

“But we gather with faith in a God who can write straight on crooked lines – and for whom love is always stronger than hatred.”

The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.

Police believe the violence was orchestrated in response to an earlier search by officers aimed at averting imminent trouble associated with this week’s anniversary of the Rising.