Lyra McKee, Northern Ireland Journalist, Is Killed in ‘Terrorist Incident,’ Police Say – Smart Media Magazine

Lyra McKee, Northern Ireland Journalist, Is Killed in ‘Terrorist Incident,’ Police Say

DUBLIN — The police in Northern Ireland on Friday blamed militants opposed to British rule there for the killing of a young journalist who was covering a night of violent unrest in Londonderry.

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident, and we have launched a murder inquiry,” Mark Hamilton, an assistant chief constable, said of the fatal shooting of the journalist, Lyra McKee, 29.

A deputy chief constable, Stephen Martin, told reporters that the police were searching for several suspects. “There was certainly more than one person involved,” he said, adding: “This was not done to further any cause. This will have achieved nothing other than to plunge a family into grief.”

Mr. Hamilton said the police were attributing the violence and the killing to the New Irish Republican Army, a militant republican group formed several years ago from the merger of several splinter groups. It is not affiliated in any way with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which renounced violence in 2005.

Many people in Northern Ireland, primarily Roman Catholics, consider themselves republicans, meaning that they want the region to break away from the United Kingdom and join the Republic of Ireland. But the number who pursue that end through violence is relatively small.

The violence took place in Creggan, a heavily Catholic area of Londonderry — a city that Catholics and republicans generally call Derry — after the police started carrying out searches in the area because of concerns that militant republicans were storing firearms and explosives there in preparation for an attack to commemorate the 1916 rebellion in Dublin known as the Easter Rising.

The searches were followed by a riot in which gasoline bombs were thrown — more than 50, according to the police — and then the attack that killed Ms. McKee. Mr. Hamilton, the assistant chief constable, said she was hit by a gunman firing toward the police.

“We saw unrest last year in the run-up to Easter and this year it’s exactly the same,” said Marisa McGlinchey, an expert on dissident republicans at Coventry University. “We’ve seen an escalation of activity coming up to Easter, and then you have the police responding with searches and arrests, which can lead to street riots.”

The outburst of violence was an ominous reminder of the deadly conflict between militant groups of Catholic republicans and Protestant loyalists, who favor remaining part of Britain, that plagued Northern Ireland until a peace agreement was signed in 1998.

“I don’t have any doubt that Brexit is something that is going to invigorate them and bring them out of the shadows,” said Darach MacDonald, a writer and journalist based in Londonderry.

Despite the outside perception that the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement ended violence in Northern Ireland, police figures for weapons seizures, arrests, assaults and armed attacks remain high, Ms. McGlinchey said, although nothing on the scale of the 1968 to 1998 era of “the Troubles.”

Mr. MacDonald also sees a cultural force at work, a perverse nostalgia for the Troubles, particularly among bored urban youths too young to have experienced them. He says that while the shots that killed McKee may have been fired by a republican militant, most of the young men rioting in the streets were most likely unaffiliated, merely participating in what has become, in many run-down areas of Northern Ireland, a sort of folk ritual.

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