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29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee shot dead during riots in Derry

Police said they were treating the shooting as a terrorist incident.

A burning car in CregganDerry after petrol bombs were thrown at police last night
A burning car in CregganDerry after petrol bombs were thrown at police last night
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Apr 19th 2019, 7:26 AM

A MURDER INVESTIGATION has been launched after a journalist was killed in a shooting in Derry last night.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) have named the 29-year-old woman as Lyra McKee, who died after shots were fired in the Fanad Drive area of Creggan in Derry. 

McKee was at the scene of rioting last night, with reporters present saying police came under gun fire and a petrol bomb attack. 

The PSNI says that a single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded the deceased.

Officers at the scene administered first aid before transporting her in the back of a police vehicle to hospital, where she tragically died from her injuries.

Assistant Chief Constable for District Policing Mark Hamilton said the woman was killed during “orchestrated violence” in the area, and that police believe the killing was carried out by a dissident republican.

“Not only is this the murder of a young woman, it’s an attack against the people of this city,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“It has had horrendous consequences, and will affect people for many years.”

Hamilton also expressed his condolences with the family and friends of the deceased, who was a journalist based in Belfast.

“This murder demonstrates all too starkly that when terrorists bring violence and guns into the community, members of the public are placed in severe danger.

“It is abundantly clear that they do not care who they harm.”

‘Shocking and tragic’

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the news of Lyra’s death was “shocking and tragic”.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lyra Mckee today. I call on anyone with information to come forward to the PSNI,” he said. 

“There is no justification for this tragic loss of life and I call on those intent on violence and disturbances to stop.

As we mark the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, we are reminded that the vast majority of people of this island voted overwhelmingly for peace and reconciliation and an end to violence. There can be no going back to those awful days.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also condemned the murder.

“Last night’s murder of a young journalist is appalling and deeply shocking. I extend my sympathies and those of the Fianna Fáil Party to her family and friends.

“The shooting and associated riots are an attack on democracy. 

I utterly condemn the attack which initial reports suggest is the work of the so called New IRA. Those responsible must be brought to justice and I encourage anyone with information to bring it to the attention of the authorities.   

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said her heart went out to her family, and condemned those responsible for her killing.

The murder of this young woman is a human tragedy for her family, but it is also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on our peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement.

I unreservedly condemn those responsible for killing this young woman.

Property searches

The shooting followed a number of searches by police in the area, starting from 9pm.

The PSNI believed that dissident republicans were storing weapons and explosives for a number of planned attacks, possibly to have taken place over Easter weekend in the city.

They say that after searches began, a crowd gathered and that around 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers. Two vehicles were also hijacked and set on fire.

By 11pm, around 100 people had gathered in the area, including young people and members of the media.

PSNI believe that it was around this time that the gunman fired a number of shots.

Londonderry unrest Petrol bombs are thrown at police in Creggan, Derry Source: Niall Carson/PA Images

They are now appealing for any witnesses who were in the area who could assist in identifying the gunman or who has information about where he went afterwards.

They are urging those with information to contact detectives in the incident room on 101 and ask for extension 57074, or to the Crimestoppers charity on freephone 0800 555 111.

Appeal for calm

Hamilton also urged members of the public to be wary about sharing any footage of the incident with others.

“We are aware that footage from last night is circulating on social media,” he said.

“This is clearly distressing for the family of Ms McKee and the wider community.

“The shock over what happened here in this city last night is hanging heavy over the entire community today.”

Police made another appeal for calm ahead of the Easter weekend, and asked anyone with influence in the community to work to ensure there are no further acts of violence.

With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald.

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