Northern Ireland news

Saoradh calls on New IRA to apologise for Lyra McKee murder

Saoradh, which is aligned to the 'New IRA' marches in Dublin on Saturday
Connla Young and John Monaghan

Hardline republican party Saoradh has called on the 'New IRA' to apologise for killing journalist Lyra McKee.

Prominent Belfast member Dee Fennell made the call during the party's annual Easter commemoration in Dublin on Saturday.

The Easter Rising commemoration went ahead less that 48 hours after the group - which calls itself the 'IRA' -  shot dead the 29-year-old journalist in Derry.

A parade organised by the Derry 1916 Commemoration Committee due today was called off after Thursday night's killing.

A small number of protesters attempted to obstruct the Dublin march, resulting in some heated exchanges, although Gardaí said the parade dispersed with no incidents.

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Saoradh is supported by prisoners from the paramilitary group currently being held in Maghaberry and Portlaoise prisons.

It announced its formation in 2012 after a merger between the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and independent republicans.

Saturday's parade began at the Garden of Remembrance and moved along O'Connell Street to the GPO where speeches took place.

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The parade was led by a large republican colour party which included men and women dressed in combat clothing. Two bands also took part in the parade.

During an address Fennell called on the 'IRA' to say sorry.

“Lyra McKee's family, friends and partner are suffering an incredible loss,” he said.

“They have lost someone they loved in the most tragic of circumstances.

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“It is a loss that many of you here will have experienced yourselves and I know my own family have suffered the killing of a loved one.

“While no words can or will alleviate the sense of loss I believe as republicans we should acknowledge when there is hurt or loss of life of civilians.

“If an IRA volunteer fired shots that accidentally killed Lyra McKee then the IRA should publicly admit responsibility for that and apologise. For no other reason than it is the right thing to do.”

However, he accused the PSNI of 'antagonising' the crowd.

"A republican volunteer fired shots at the PSNI following a number of house raids that were designed to antagonise," said Fennell.

"Those shots tragically killed a young journalist ... who was standing behind Crown force lines."

Earlier Fennell had referred to the IRA and said that by “engaging in armed struggle” it has a “duty to act responsibly”.

He added that Saoradh will “never view armed resistance as illegitimate” and that his party is “unapologetic abut this”.

The senior Saoradh member also spoke about Brexit.

“Britain's decision to leave the EU has focused minds on the border she imposed almost 100 years ago,” he said .

“However, this focus has been on the type of border we must suffer.

“Saoradh need to articulate that it is any border that the Irish people reject and it is this that will continue to be resisted.”

The chairman of Saoradh, Brian McKenna, also pointed the finger of blame at police for the death of Ms McKee.

'The responsibility for what happened lies with the PSNI for attempting to trample the nationalist community in Creggan.'

Saturday's parade was condemned as 'absurd' by Paul Kehoe, a minister of state at the Republic's Department of Defence.

Mr Kehoe said nobody in Ireland wanted to return to the 'bad old days'.

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