Belfast Telegraph

Lyra McKee murder: A new breed of terrorist is coming through the ranks in NI, says senior officer

  • PSNI believes New IRA was behind the murder
  • Reaction from community to the murder represents a real 'sea change' in attitudes to policing in Londonderry
  • Two teenagers arrested
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

The detective leading the investigation into the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry has said it is "very worrying" that a new breed of terrorist is coming through the ranks on the streets of Northern Ireland.

Lyra, who was 29-years-old, died after being shot during disturbances in the Creggan area of the city on Thursday night.

Police have arrested two teenagers who they suspect are members of the dissident republican New IRA and were involved in shooting dead the promising young journalist.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, who heads up the PSNI's Major Investigation Team, said terrorists were lurking in the shadows.

"What we are seeing is a new breed of terrorist coming through the ranks and that for me is a very worrying situation," he said.

He said there had been a sea change in community attitudes and that was demonstrated in the revulsion expressed by many at Thursday evening's killing.

The senior detective told a press conference he had met with Lyra's devastated family on Saturday morning.

Lyra's partner - Sara Canning
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Lyra's partner - Sara Canning A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
An upset friend as A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
A vigil is held for Lyra McKee in Fanad Drive Creggan on April 19th 2019 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Naomi Long Long at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The Vigil for 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Forensics at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Mary Lou McDonald at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Colm Eastwood SDLP at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Lyra Vigil
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Arlene Foster at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Mary Lou McDonald at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 Sarah Canning Partner of Lyra McKee during a vigil at the scene after 29-year-old Lyra McKee who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Frt. Joe Gormley, PP, Creggan.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. DUP leader Arlene Foster arrives with party colleagues Gary Middleton and Gregory Campbell. Included are Fr. Joe Gormley and Bishop Ken Good.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. PSNI officers place floral tributes left at the scene.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Local Sinn Fein Councillor Kevin Campbell speaking with DUP leader Arlene Foster and party colleagues Gary Middleton and Gregory Campbell.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. PSNI officers place floral tributes left at the scene.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, with Mayor Councillor John Boyle.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, with the DUP's Gregory Campbell and Arlene Foster
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. DUP party leader Arlene Foster, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and Sinn Fein MEP Martinas Anderson.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance Party leader Naomi Long, SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood, Gregory Campbell, MLA, The Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle, DUP leader Arlene Foster and Councillor Kevin Campbell.
The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. SDLP party leader Colum Eastwood, DUP party leader Arlene Foster and then Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle. Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Sinn Fein's Pearse Doherty and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, DUP party leader Arlene Foster, Alliance Party leader Naomi Long and Sinn Fein MEP Martinas Anderson.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, and Right Rev. Dr. Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, Right Rev. Dr. Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, and the Mayor of Derry and Strabane, Councillor John Boyle.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Most Rev. Dr. Donal McKeown, Bishop of Derry, and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster, Bishop Ken Good, Mary Hamilton and Bishop Donal McKeown.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Lyra McKee's partner Sarah Canning speaking to DIUP leader Arlene Foster.
The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee. Alliance leader Naomi Long, Sinn Fein Leader Mary Lou McDonald and DUP leader Arlene Foster, Bishop Ken Good, Mary Hamilton and Bishop Donal McKeown.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 19th April 2019 - Photo by Lorcan Doherty / Press Eye. The community vigil held on Fanad Drive, Creggan, following the murder of 29 years-old Lyra McKee.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER BELFAST 18/4/2019 The NUJ hold a vigil at the Guildhall in memory of 29-year-old Lyra McKee ,who was shot dead during rioting after police searches in Derry's Creggan area on Thursday night. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said the New IRA "are likely to be the ones behind this" and detectives have started a murder inquiry. Photo Colm Lenaghan/ Pacemaker Press
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer lays floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Lyra McKee shooting, Derry. Grafitti close to the scene.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer receives floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- PSNI officer searching Fanad Drive in Creggan, Derry following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
PRESS EYE BELFAST - 19/4/19- Floral tributes left by members of the public following the murder of 29-year-old Lyra McKee during rioting after police searches in the area last night.
A woman with a rainbow flag at a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People signing a book of condolence after a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project reads a letter written by Lyra McKee when she was aged 24 called, Òa letter to my 14-year-old selfÓ, during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
John O'Doherty of the Rainbow Project reads a letter written by Lyra McKee when she was aged 24 called, Òa letter to my 14-year-old selfÓ, during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
People hold candles during a vigil at Belfast City Hall in memory of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday April 19, 2019. See PA story ULSTER Unrest Vigil. Photo credit should read: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

"Lyra's family have a lot of questions, and today I was able to answer some of them. But I need more help from the community to enable me to answer more of their questions and to be able to bring Lyra's killers to justice.

"Shortly before 11pm on Thursday night 29-year-old Lyra was murdered by terrorists. I believe that those responsible are the New IRA.

"Lyra was killed by shots that were fired indiscriminately in Fanad Drive. The brutal nature of that attack has sent shockwaves around the world. The shots were fired in a residential area at a time where there were large numbers of people, including children, standing by.

"The gunman showed no thought for who may have been killed for injured when he fired those shots."

DCI Murphy appealed to members of the public who filmed footage of the disturbances on Thursday night to come forward and speak to detectives to allow them to view the footage.

Images and video can also be uploaded to the dedicated Major Incident Public Portal via https://mipp.police.uk/operation/PSNI19O09-PO1.

He added: "We have already received unprecedented support from the local community and I would like to thank them for helping us to seek justice on Lyra's behalf.

"I know that there will be some people that know what happened but are frightened to come forward. I want to reassure you that we will work with you sensitively.

bpanews_47168aad-d2cd-4885-bde4-b1e5d4d8a525_embedded242408232.png
Lyra McKee

"There is a real sense that what happened to Lyra will mark a sea change. I want people to have confidence to come forward to help us.

"It is really important that those who killed Lyra in this cowardly attack should never be allowed to do this again.

"The individuals responsible for Lyra's murder continue to hide in the shadows, attempting to justify their actions to each other.

"They have shown no courage to offer any explanation directly to Lyra's family. Meanwhile the community continue to work together with Alan and his policing team to bring lasting and positive change for the community of the Creggan. This should be Lyra's legacy.

"Lyra's murder was not just an attack on Lyra. It was an attack on the fabric of this community. Lyra's killers have succeeded in doing one thing and this is in uniting the entire community in condemnation."

The officer appealed for anyone with information to contact detectives.

He added: "This morning we arrested two young men aged 18 and 19.

"I believe both of those are members of the New IRA, I believe both were involved in the attack on Lyra.

"Clearly my consideration is whether those two individuals acted in isolation or in collusion with other individuals, and I am keen for the community to come forward and help me answer that question."

He said there was still fear of reprisals from the shadowy figures for giving information.

"Individuals continue to exert influence over communities, not just in the Creggan but in other parts of the communities as well.

"This intimidation and fear creates a real concern for local residents to come and talk to us as police officers."

He said helping police with their inquiries was still unfortunately a difficult thing for some to do, but he said officers would behave sensitively.

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