Lyra McKee was just 29 years old when she died on Thursday night. The journalist was shot by a gunman in the Creggan estate during riots that broke out following earlier police raids. Police have arrested four men under the Terrorism Act over her murder, and all of them are aged 18-years-old or younger. The New IRA claimed responsibility for her murder, but has been widely criticized by other republican groups and politicians.
With an outpouring of grief from the community, journalists and across the political spectrum, many have called for answers as to how something like this could happen. Many are asking was McKee a target? Could police forces be held responsible for lax security? Was the New IRA behind the murder, and will it be dismantled?
We take a look at some of these questions.
Was McKee targeted as an individual, or was she just caught in crossfire?
This is one question that isn’t as easy to answer as many others. It’s possible that Mckee was just caught in the crossfire, having no part in the riots that broke out following earlier police raids. However, there have also been claims that she was targeted by rioters because of her job as a journalist.
New IRA member Kevin McGuigan is alleged to have shot Jock Davison in Belfast 2015, which lead to Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness resigning as Deputy First Minister and eventually to his death.
As far as we know, the main New IRA members linked with Lyra McKee’s murder were not there at the riot. Is it possible that they asked others to go in their place? After all, those linked with Davison’s killing could hardly attend themselves and risk arrest.
We don’t know for sure whether McKee was targeted. It’s possible, but we may never find out the answer to this question.
Were police forces responsible for lax security?
In a word, yes. Police in Derry allowed rioting to commence with only a small crowd of officers present. This has been widely criticized by politicians and journalists.
In a press conference on Friday morning, PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said that the rioting had been “orchestrated”.
The PSNI did not have enough officers present to prevent rioting, despite having received advanced warning.
Was the New IRA responsible for Lyra McKee’s murder?
For now it appears that the New IRA are behind the attack. The group released a statement on Friday afternoon claiming responsibility for her murder. The statement said:
“In the course of attacking police officers earlier, rifles were used to shoot at them. Lyra McKee was standing beside these officers, when she was struck by a bullet fired indiscriminately.”
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