The dissident republican group New IRA has admitted responsibility for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee during the riots last Thursday in Derry, Northern Ireland, and offered its “sincere apologies” to the family and friends of the victim.
In a statement sent to the Irish News, using a recognised codeword to verify its authenticity, the New IRA acknowledged that its activists killed the journalist and offered its “sincere apologies to the couple, family and friends of Lyra.”
“On Thursday night, following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage,” the republican splinter group said in the statement.
“In the course of attacking the enemy, Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces. The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.”
“We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this,” the statement continued.
Images captured by witnesses to the attack show a masked man firing a gunshot towards McKee, who was standing next to a police vehicle in the midst of riots between Irish nationalist protesters and police. Another image shows a second man, who seems to pick up what is thought to be the bullet casing off the ground before fleeing the scene.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) is treating the incident as an “act of terrorism”, perpetrated by the New IRA, which is believed to have been formed between 2011 and 2012, following the merger of several small groups who remain opposed to the peace process in Northern Ireland. So far, it has been linked to four murders.
Lyra McKee, 29, worked for the Mediagazer, a California-based trade magazine, focused on the media industry. She was also a well-known activist in the LGBT community in Northern Ireland. On Tuesday, police detained a 57-year-old woman in Derry for possible involvement in the murder. Two young men arrested on Saturday for questioning were subsequently released without charge.