Northern Ireland news

Chief Constable calls for help in 'narrowing' the ground of dissident gunmen

PSNI Constable George Hamilton at the funeral of Lyra McKee who was murdered in Derry. Picture Mal McCann.

Outgoing Chief Constable George Hamilton has called on members of the public to help in "narrowing the ground" of those responsible for the murder of Belfast woman Lyra McKee.

Mr Hamilton, who retires in June, was speaking outside St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast following the funeral of the 29-year-old shot dead during a riot in Derry last Thursday.

The organisation known as the New IRA claimed responsibility for the shooting in the Creggan estate.

Mr Hamilton said that detectives believe the evidence to convict the person responsible for Ms McKee's murder exists and urged people to come forward with information.

Read more: Lyra McKee's funeral hears priest challenge politicians

"The outpouring of condemnation from the communities of Derry, Creggan and the politicians all standing together in Creggan last Friday was something that was quite unique and quite different, we need to capitalise on that," said Mr Hamilton.

"The evidence to bring those responsible to justice is out there, we need people to have confidence in the police investigation".

The Chief Constable added that police had spoken to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) about ways that people could give evidence without revealing their identity for fear of reprisal.

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Special measures for witnesses in terrorist related court cases have been used in Northern Ireland in the past.

"We will work with them, we are sensitive to fears and concerns. We have engaged with the PPS so people can feel comfortable and safe cooperating with police to bring those responsible to justice," he added.

"There is something about narrowing the ground that these people walk on, something about the unity of purpose right across political leadership.

"We need more, this murder is solvable and we want to bring that level of closure to it, that outcome is possible," Mr Hamilton said.

"We've already seen things change, over 140 people have cooperated with police providing videos, witness accounts, we are talking to people every day.

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No matter who would have been killed (in Derry) it would have been equally as tragic. In these unique circumstances we are seeing a groundswell of opinion away from violence towards law and order in a way that hasn't always happened in the past.

"We will put every measure in place we can to turn conversations into evidence that can be provided in a protected way in a courtroom.

"Don't worry about statements, don't worry about courtrooms just yet, help us paint an accurate picture and we'll work out how to best bring those responsible to book for this horrible murder," he added.

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