Politicians of all shades unite to condemn Lyra McKee's murder
THE leaders of Stormont's parties have united with high-ranking politicians across Ireland and Britain to condemn the murder of Lyra McKee.
Both the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the British prime minister Theresa May denounced those responsible.
Mr Varadkar said Thursday night's murder strengthened the Dublin government's determination "not to allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past".
"I would like to express my sincere condolences to Lyra's family, her partner Sara and her friends," he said.
"Our solidarity also goes out to the people of Derry and to the entire journalism community."
Mrs May described the 29-year-old journalist's death as "shocking and truly senseless".
"My deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues – she was a journalist who died doing her job with great courage," she said.
President Michael D Higgins described her as a "woman of talent and commitment, who was shot exercising her profession". He said her death will invoke "shock, outrage and great sadness".
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the killing was a reminder on the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that "the vast majority of people of this island voted overwhelmingly for peace and reconciliation and an end to violence. There can be no going back to those awful days".
"There is no justification for this tragic loss of life and I call on those intent on violence and disturbances to stop," he said.
Secretary of State Karen Bradley said she was "shocked and saddened".
In a joint statement, the leaders of Stormont's six main parties – Arlene Foster (DUP), Michelle O'Neill (Sinn Féin), Robin Swann (UUP), Colum Eastwood (SDLP), Naomi Long (Alliance) and Clare Bailey (Green Party) – condemned the killing in the "strongest terms possible".
"The murder of Lyra McKee is first and foremost a devastating loss for her grieving partner, family and friends, and our thoughts are with them at this awful time," they said.
"Lyra's murder was also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes."
The statement described the killing as "pointless and futile act" designed to destroy two decades of progress.
"We are united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime – they have no support in the community, must be brought to justice and should disband immediately," he said.
The leaders reiterated their support for the PSNI, who were also targeted in Derry on Wednesday night, and called on anyone with any information to bring it to the police.
"This is a time for calm heads," the statement concluded.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the "senseless" killing of Ms McKee, writing on Twitter: "My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Lyra McKee, senselessly killed while doing her job as a journalist."
His deputy Tom Watson tweeted: "This weekend, whether marking Easter or Passover or simply taking a break, please cherish your families and spare some time for thoughts and prayers for Lyra McKee and her loved ones whilst we recommit to the pursuit of peace."
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was sickened by the "mindless violence".
"Tragic to lose such a talented journalist," he said.
Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has said the murder was a "heinous act which has no place on our island".
"I want to extend my sincerest condolences to the family, partner, and friends of Lyra McKee," he said.