Northern Ireland police charge man with murder of journalist Lyra McKee | News | DW | 12.02.2020
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Northern Ireland police charge man with murder of journalist Lyra McKee

The journalist was shot dead during rioting in Northern Ireland last year. She had written about her struggles growing up gay in the country.

Police officers in Northern Ireland on Wednesday charged a man with the murder of Lyra McKee, a 29-year-old investigative journalist who was shot dead by a New IRA gunman in April last year.

Detectives from the Police Services of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) investigation team arrested the 52-year-old man on Tuesday. He is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and professing to be a member of a proscribed organization.

Four men were arrested on Tuesday, one of whom was 52, as part of the probe into the murder of McKee in Derry-Londonderry. Police made no explicit mention of the other three in their update on Wednesday, but alluded to more potential charges.

"I have always said a number of individuals were involved with the gunman on the night Lyra was killed, and while today is significant for the investigation the quest for the evidence to bring the gunman to justice remains active and ongoing," said Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy. 

The 52-year-old will appear at Londonderry Magistrates Court on 13 February. 

People 'know what happened'

All four were arrested in Derry-Londonderry under the Terrorism Act over the April shooting that was claimed by Irish nationalist militants opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that ended a three-decade sectarian conflict known as "The Troubles."

The PSNI renewed an appeal for information on the deadly shooting.

"I have always believed that some people within the community know what happened and who was involved," Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said. 

Celebrated journalist

McKee wrote about growing up gay in Northern Ireland as well as chronicling the experiences of the "cease-fire babies," the generation raised after the 1998 peace deal.

McKee was an advocate for LGBT rights and was recognized as a rising star in journalism, having landed a spot on Forbes Magazine's "30 under 30 in media" list in 2016.

"Such a warm and innocent heart, she was the greatest listener, someone who had time for everyone," her family said in a statement. "She was a smart, strong-minded woman who believed passionately in inclusivity, justice and truth."

Read more: Lyra McKee: Woman arrested over Northern Ireland journalist's murder

'Sincere apologies'

"In the course of attacking the enemy, Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces," the New IRA had said after the shooting, a reference to McKee standing close to a police riot vehicle at the time, claiming that they had not intended to shoot her. "The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."

At the time of her murder, Northern Ireland's devolved parliament had been suspended since January 2017 after a breakdown of trust between rival political parties.

The power-sharing assembly in Belfast was created in 1998 after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. McKee's death led to calls for politicians to agree to restore the legislature. It eventually resumed sitting last month.

Read more: Northern Ireland will have a government after three-year gap

Nordirland Belfast gleichgeschlechtliche Eheschließung (picture-alliance/empics/L. McBurney)

Sharni Edwards and Robyn Peoples: the first known same-sex couple to get married in Northern Ireland since a ban was lifted in January 2020

mvb, kw/msh (AFP, Reuters)

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