Belfast Telegraph

Journalists' union slams Saoradh threat in wake of Lyra McKee murder

Lyra McKee was shot dead by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process during unrest in Londonderry (McKee family/PA)
Lyra McKee was shot dead by dissident republicans opposed to the peace process during unrest in Londonderry (McKee family/PA)

The political wing of the New IRA in Londonderry has been slammed for threatening the media almost a month to the day after the dissident republican terror group murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Yesterday, the PSNI carried out a series of raids in Derry linked to the 29 year-old’s fatal shooting.

No arrests were made, and several items were taken away for examination.

Hours later dissident group Saoradh issued a statement claiming that a film crew accompanied the PSNI “in the home invasions and where (sic) clearly complicit in the attacks on Republican families”.

In a sinister warning, the group stated that this “may in future, given the environment, endanger members of the press”.

They also emailed photos of the police and people wearing jackets marked ‘Press’ to the media.

The National Union of Journalists hit back at the intimidation.

NUJ Irish Secretary Seamus Dooley said: “The NUJ will not be lectured on ethics by Saoradh. The statement displays a shocking degree of arrogance.

“NUJ members reject any attempt to blame the media for the public backlash arising from the murder of Lyra McKee or to shift the focus from the killing of our member in the course of her work as a reporter.”

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet added: “If there are legitimate complaints about policing these can be investigated by the appropriate authorities.

“This demand for the NUJ to investigate an alleged incident is a smokescreen.

“We want to see the killers of Lyra brought to justice and that investigation is our priority. 

“Lyra was denied the fundamental human right, the right to life, and in these circumstances Saoradh’s reference to rights is completely hypocritical.”

A PSNI spokesperson said officers from their Major Investigation Team conducted searches under the authority of search warrants at two residential properties in Londonderry as part of their investigation into the murder of Lyra McKee

"No entry was forced at either premises, no damage was caused and no arrests were made. A number of items have been seized for examination,"

"During the search of one premises, a cameraman and producer were present to record the work of the Major Investigation Teams. They were present with the consent of the Senior Investigating Officer and did not enter any premises. They remained in public areas at all times.

The PSNI said its Serious Crime Branch "are seeking to record a documentary to help to inform the public about the work of its Major Investigation Teams." This is an important piece of work to enable the public to see behind the scenes of complex and challenging homicide investigations.

"The filming today represents one aspect of our work, which is under a constant public spotlight. Providing the media in general with access to major investigations is a critical element of public accountability. Publicly demonstrating policing professionalism is a key factor in building public confidence. "

The officer leading the investigation into Lyra McKee’s murder said: "Searches are a necessary and important aspect of investigating serious crimes. As with every other part of this investigation, we have worked closely with local policing to ensure that we are sensitive to the local community.

"If evidence exists, it is important that we identify and retrieve it, but our experience tells us that this evidence will not land at our door. Our job is to go and find it. The public have supported us in seeking justice for Lyra McKee and her family and I am grateful for their help and continuing patience."

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