Belfast Telegraph

Republican group stage march 48 hours after Lyra McKee murder

The Colour Party marches along O’Connell Street during the Saoradh Easter Commemoration in Dublin.
Photo: Tony Gavin 20/4/2019
The Colour Party marches along O’Connell Street during the Saoradh Easter Commemoration in Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin 20/4/2019

By Maeve Sheehan

The political republican group that issued a statement absolving the "IRA volunteer" who shot Lyra McKee marched on the streets of Dublin within 48 hours of her murder.

Up to 150 men and women in military fatigues, their faces covered by berets and sunglasses, paraded outside the GPO.

Saoradh, which denies it is a mouthpiece for the New IRA, issued a self-serving statement within 12 hours of Ms McKee's murder, blaming it on "Crown Forces".

Yesterday the group's chairman and spokesperson, Brian Kenna, hit out at the "irresponsible PSNI who went into a nationalist area on Thursday night and provoked a young community".

Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond said Saoradh had "no place on the streets of the capital".

Last night police in Belfast were continuing to question two suspected teenage members of the New IRA about the murder of the 29-year-old journalist in Derry.

The men, aged 18 and 19, were arrested in Derry under anti-terrorism legislation and were brought to a police station in Belfast, the PSNI said.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy, who is leading the inquiry, said he believed both men were involved in the shooting. "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 added.

Ms McKee was killed in the Creggan estate in Derry after she was shot in the head by a gunman who fired toward police as rioting raged. Mobile phone and CCTV images captured chilling footage of a masked man pointing a handgun in the direction of police, close to where Ms McKee was standing among a crowd of bystanders.

Her partner, Sara Canning, led tributes to the investigative journalist, published author and LGBTQIA activist, saying her "amazing potential was snuffed out by this single barbaric act".

Mr Murphy added: "People saw the gunman and people saw those who goaded young people out on to the streets, people know who they are.

"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 Ms McKee's murder had created "a sea change" in the community and asked people to have confidence to come forward with information.

He added that the individuals responsible for her murder continued to "hide in the shadows" but his officers had identified "palpable" change in support of the police.

"This will 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 only one thing, and that is in uniting the entire community in condemnation," he said.

A statement on Saoradh's website last Friday said a "republican volunteer attempted to defend people" from the PSNI and the RUC and that "tragically a young journalist, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally".

Despite releasing a statement, Saoradh chairman Mr Kenna, who is a former employee of the HSE, told the Sunday Independent he had no knowledge about the shooting. He said the information was "passed" to Saoradh. "We would act responsibly in passing on information from republican sources," he said, while adding that he had "no information" to pass to gardai.

Saoradh secretary Ger Devereux said he did not see the statement before it went out. "I don't necessarily agree with it," he said. "But I can state quite categorically to you that we had no involvement in that [shooting]."

Both men said they were shocked by the shooting.

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