Supporters confront police as man accused of Lyra McKee murder appears in court

Supporters of a man charged with murdering journalist Lyra McKee scuffled with police outside court as he arrived for his first appearance in the dock.

Paul McIntyre, from Derry, is accused of killing Ms McKee, 29, who was shot dead by dissident republicans while observing a riot in Londonderry in April.

Supporters of the 52-year-old holding placards saying he is a “political hostage” and a “British scapegoat” scuffled with up to 40 police officers as they refused to move from the entrance to Londonderry Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

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McIntyre raises his arms towards cheering supporters outside court (Brian Lawless/PA)

There were loud cheers as McIntyre was brought out of a Range Rover and taken into the court building.

Ms McKee was standing near a police vehicle when she was hit by a bullet fired by a masked gunman towards officers.

The Belfast writer was living in Londonderry with her partner, Sara Canning, who also arrived at court on Thursday morning.

Ms Mckee’s sister Nichola Corner was among several people in the public gallery wearing T shirts emblazoned with her picture.

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Ms McKee’s partner Sara Canning arrives at Londonderry Magistrates’ Court (Brian Lawless/PA)

In a statement on Wednesday, Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: “I have always said a number of individuals were involved with the gunman on the night Lyra was killed, and while today is significant for the investigation the quest for the evidence to bring the gunman to justice remains active and ongoing.”

Ms McKee was a gay rights activist and an articulate advocate of a new and more tolerant Northern Ireland and part of the generation which reached adulthood during peace time.

She wrote for publications including Private Eye and Buzzfeed.

Her funeral was attended by then prime minister Theresa May, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Irish President Michael D Higgins at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast.

Catholic priest Fr Martin Magill received a standing ovation when he asked why it took her death to unite politicians.

Days later the British and Irish governments announced a new talks process aimed at restoring devolution.

Powersharing was resurrected last month and the first same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland took place this week.

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Journalist Lyra McKee (Chiho Tang/Oranga Creative/PA)

McIntyre is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and belonging to or professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation. His address was given in court as Kinnego Park, Londonderry.

The New IRA said it carried out the killing of Ms McKee.