Belfast Telegraph

Priest who gave Last Rites hits out at statement by dissidents

Fr Joe Gormley
Fr Joe Gormley
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The priest who administered the Last Rites to Lyra McKee has said her death was the "work of the anti-Christ".

Fr Joe Gormley also told Saoradh - the dissident republican political group speaking for the New IRA, which is critical of the PSNI - to leave the Creggan community.

Fr Gormley and the Bishop of Derry, Dr Donal McKeown, prayed in St Mary's Church with people from Creggan for Lyra, her family and friends.

Speaking afterwards, a visibly shaken Fr Gormley said: "This was the work of the anti-Christ.

"We pray today that we can conquer this evil with the power of love, not with the power of hate.

"It is 21 years since the Good Friday Agreement and our communities have moved on, but there are some people here who think they can ram their thinking down our throats.

"Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but not with the barrel of a gun.

"I know Saoradh and I know some of the people who say those things. How dare they call themselves defenders of the community?"

A planned illegal march by the dissident republicans for Easter Monday, which resulted in serious rioting last year, has now been called off by Saoradh.

Yesterday, in a widely-criticised statement, Saoradh tried to blame Lyra's death on police who were in Creggan on Thursday night conducting a house search in connection with the planned march.

The statement said: "The inevitable reaction to such an incursion was resistance from the youth of Creggan.

"The blame for last night lies squarely at the feet of the British Crown Forces, who sought to grab headlines and engineered confrontation with the community.

"During this attack on the community, a republican volunteer attempted to defend people from the PSNI/RUC.

"Tragically a young journalist covering the events, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally while standing behind armed Crown Force personnel and armoured vehicles.

"This outcome is heartbreaking and we extend our sincerest sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased."

The statement was heavily criticised, with some describing it as disgusting.

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