Northern Ireland news

Two teenagers held over Lyra McKee murder released without charge

Undated family handout photo of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee who was shot and killed when guns were fired and petrol bombs were thrown in Derry
Michelle Devane and Michael McHugh, Press Association

Two teenagers arrested over the murder of journalist Lyra McKee have been released without charge as her killers were urged to disband.

The pair, aged 18 and 19, were released by the PSNI as officers urged anyone with information to contact them.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: "We have received very positive support from the community but we need to convert this support into tangible evidence that will enable us to bring Lyra's killers to justice.

"I know there will be some people who know what happened but are scared to come forward but if you have information, no matter how small, please contact detectives."

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

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

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee which has been graffittied on to Free Derry Corner. Picture by Joe Boland/PA Wire 

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.

Sinn Féin 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?

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

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

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

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

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.

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Mr Heaney said he identified with LGBTQI activist Miss 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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Catholic bishop Donal McKeown addressed Mass-goers on Sunday at a church just yards from where Miss 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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