Northern Ireland news

Dissident republican group which killed Lyra McKee in Derry is urged to disband by Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill speaking at a Sinn Féin-organised Easter parade yesterday
Michelle Devane and Michael McHugh, Press Association

The dissident republican group behind the murder of journalist Lyra McKee has been urged to disband.

A demonstration by republicans who embrace the peace process said their violent dissident counterparts were caught in a futile and antiquated time warp.

The 29-year-old journalist and published author died after she was shot in the head by a member of the New IRA during a riot in Derry.

Her funeral will be held in her native Belfast on Wednesday.

The landmark Free Derry Corner has been repainted to include the words "not in our name - RIP Lyra" to reflect community revulsion felt at the killing.

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been painted on Free Derry Corner. Picture by Joe Boland, Press Association

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Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said: "To those young people circling these people consider what type of future you want for your kids and grandkids - there are two futures on offer - one of peace, opportunity and Irish reunification.

"Or one of death, imprisonment which serves no cause, community or people.

"Ask yourself what type of life and what type of Ireland do you want to be part of?

"It is high time these people disbanded and ended their futile actions which are a barrier to achieving Irish unity."

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She addressed a commemoration of the Easter Rising battle for Irish independence at the City cemetery in Derry yesterday.

Republicans carried photos of former IRA members killed during the 30-year conflict.

Police have arrested two teenagers they suspect are members of the dissident republican gang involved in shooting Ms McKee.

A gunman aiming to kill police hit her after firing indiscriminately during disturbances in the Creggan estate.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill speaking at an Easter Rising commemoration in Derry

Mrs O'Neill said: "Sadly, what we have here is a small number of people caught in a time warp who have self appointed themselves to carry out actions which are pointless, anti-peace, anti-community and frankly, antiquated."

Among those to lay a wreath for republican dead was Tiernan Heaney, aged 23, whose IRA uncle Dennis Heaney was shot in the city by British soldiers in 1978 when he went to "commandeer" a vehicle.

Mr Heaney said he identified with LGBTQI activist Ms McKee as he himself is gay.

He said: "It is absolutely disgusting that that life was there and then it was just taken away by some stupid act.

"There is palpable anger in the Creggan area and all over the city and across the north of Ireland and the island.

"It is horrific, it should never have happened."

"The people who brought guns on to the street, and those who organised them do not represent any version of Irish republicanism," Ms O'Neill told those gathered at the commemoration.

"They have no politics, no strategy, and no popular support amongst the vast number of ordinary people from this city, or anywhere else in the country."

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Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown addressed Mass-goers on Sunday at a church just yards from where Ms McKee and her partner Sara Canning had made their home.

He said: "So, on this Easter morning, we gather with deep sadness in our hearts and without any simplistic message about the Resurrection.

"But we gather with faith in a God who can write straight on crooked lines - and for whom love is always stronger than hatred."

The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.

Police believe the violence was orchestrated in response to an earlier search by officers aimed at averting imminent trouble associated with this week's anniversary of the Rising.

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