Sinister campaign cannot prevent justice for Lyra McKee

All right thinking people will agree that those responsible for the appalling murder of the writer and activist Lyra McKee in Derry last month deserve to be brought before the courts without delay.

It follows that the authorities urgently need to be provided with the assistance they require to ensure that prosecutions can be successfully completed in the case.

There are firm indications that there has been a huge public backlash against dissident republicans after the shooting of Ms McKee (29) as she stood among onlookers close to a riot in the Creggan estate.

The level of cooperation extended to the police has been described as unprecedented, and it has also officially been made clear that any witnesses who are prepared to give evidence during a future trial could be offered anonymity.

None of this has been lost on the organisation known as the New IRA, and a particularly sinister campaign of intimidation has taken place over recent days.

As we reported yesterday, not only threatening graffiti but also specifically designed signs have been appearing in the area close to where Ms McKee was killed.

One of the messages features the image of a rat, with the caption `Informers will be shot', while another slogan proclaims `RUC informers; They will forget about you, we won't. IRA.'

This all reflects a profound sense of weakness on the part of the New IRA, rather than any kind of swaggering confidence, but most of all it deserves to be regarded as a blatant insult to the memory of a young woman whose murder caused shock not just across Ireland but around the world.

The parish priest of Creggan, Fr Joe Gormley, was fully entitled to characterise the development as an outrageous attempt by a group with no mandate to impose its will `through the barrel of a gun.', and it will be noted that his views have been robustly endorsed by both main nationalist parties.

There can be no doubt that potential witnesses will be acutely aware of their own personal security and may prefer with deal with police through intermediaries rather than face to face.

However, as long as information which is central to the investigation reaches detectives by any means, it will bring a possible breakthrough closer.

The relatives and friends of Ms McKee deserve to know that their search for justice is strongly supported by the wider community in Derry and elsewhere.

It is equally essential that highly dangerous individuals are taken off our streets and no other families are left grieving a loved one in any section of our society.

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