Northern Ireland news

Lyra McKee murder: Radicalisation of Derry youths 'needs addressed urgently'

Children stop to see tributes left at the scene where Lyra McKee was murdered in the Creggan estate of Derry city on Thursday night. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 20-4-2019 ©.

AS detectives continue to hunt for the killer of Lyra McKee, a Derry community activist has warned that the age demographic of those attracted to dissident groups is getting younger.

Emmet Doyle was close to the scene of the shooting and tried to help the 29-year-old in the immediate aftermath of the indiscriminate attack.

He said there is a genuine, growing problem with young people in Derry being attracted towards violent republicanism.

"The main problem is they don't see anyone else doing anything for their benefit, whether that perception is right or wrong, they don't feel connected to any of the political parties," he said.

"In Derry there is a lot of gate-keeping in regards to services which are monopolised by political parties, there's a growing annoyance among young people specifically.

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Lyra McKee 

Mr Doyle said the shooting has left the area traumatised.

"The first shot didn't sound like a live round but the ones after that did and that's when I ran out of the way," he said.

"There were upwards of 100 people on the streets or standing in their gardens, some very young, there is a real sense that this could have been any one who was shot and that's feeding into the anger, people are furious.

"There is a need for services, be it counselling or help for those who witnessed the attack.

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"I think there's been deliberate targetting of young people by these groups, some who were not even born until after the ceasefire, they've been sold a romanticised version of republicanism.

"You know when Saoradh hold social events in Derry they are jammed full of younger ones, so that's also part of the attraction I think.

"For young fellas in particular there is a status around membership of these organisations, there's young fellas walking the streets like they are patrolling them. It's something you wouldn't have seen for years but now it is more and more common".

Mr Doyle said he does not think that the murder of Ms McKee will put an end to groups such as the 'New IRA'.

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"There is anger at the minute so we may see a lull in activity for a while but I don't think we've seen the end of it.

"We had a political roadshow in the Creggan over the weekend with politicians surrounded in cameras and then they went home and the people of this area were forgot about.

"It's not going to get any better unless there are structural changes and I can't see any sign of that happening at the minute".

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