New IRA told fresh apology for killing journalist Lyra McKee just 'hollow words from terrorists'

The dissident Irish republican group which claimed responsibility for killing journalist Lyra McKee has apologised again for her death, but was told by police it offered only “hollow words”.

McKee, 29, was shot dead in April last year as she reported on rioting that had broken out in response to a police raid in the Creggan area of Derry. She was the first journalist to be killed on British soil in nearly 20 years.

The New IRA issued an apology shortly afterwards, saying its members had been aiming at police who McKee had been stood next to. It reissued the apology in a statement to the Irish News yesterday.

“The IRA again take this opportunity to offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner and family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death,” the statement said.

“Our volunteers have been instructed to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy and we have put in place measures to ensure this.”

The Police Federation For Northern Ireland said in a statement on Twitter that the statement constituted “hollow words from terrorists”.

“The only way to ensure this never happens again, is to disengage from trying to murder anyone and accept that the overwhelming majority of people want to live in peace,” the organisation said.

Two people have been charged with riot, petrol bomb offences and arson of a hijacked vehicle in connection with the investigation into her death, but no-one has been charged with her murder.

According to the Irish Times, serious attacks by dissident republicans have increased since McKee’s death with several attempts made to kill police officers.

On Tuesday, McKee’s sister Nichola Corner was presented on her behalf with a Masters degree in Online Journalism by Birmingham City University.

McKee studied for a distance learning Master’s degree at the university between 2012 and 2014 but never formally graduated from the course as she concentrated on her budding reporting career instead.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Philip Plowden, said: “There are no positives to be drawn from her death, we are all the poorer for it.

“But it reminds us why we need great journalists, we need those who can uncover truths and open our eyes to things we may have chosen not to notice.

“I am very proud that Lyra was part of our community and I’m proud that she was such a powerful example of our individual ability, each and every one of us, to work to change the world around us.”

At the time of her death, McKee was due to put the finishing touches to her book Angels With Blue Faces, which investigates an IRA murder cold case. It was published last summer.

Freelance McKee had also built a reputation for writing about the Troubles and its ongoing impact on Northern Ireland, and featured in publications such as the Belfast Telegraph, Private Eye and The Atlantic.

She was widely recognised as a rising star, being named Sky News’ Young Journalist of the Year in 2006 and appearing in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2016.

Her former lecturer Paul Bradshaw said: “Lyra’s path to studying journalism at Birmingham City University was, like her, special.

“The tenacity and creativity that took her to BCU continued throughout her work here, and on into the successes that led to her pausing her studies.

“Lyra was a very special student, a very special writer, and an inspiration to many. It was especially important to see her achievements during that time recognised by the university — and this award demonstrates that.”

Picture: Excalibur Press

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