Northern Ireland news

Claim that police anticipated riot over Creggan house search on the night Lyra McKee was shot dead

Lyra McKee was fatally wounded during a riot in Derry on April 18
Seamus McKinney

POLICE were aware the search in Derry's Creggan on the night journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead would lead to disturbances, it has been claimed.

A number of community leaders say they were contacted by police before they moved into Creggan on April 18 to search a property.

It comes as the woman whose home was searched during rioting on the night Ms McKee was murdered said she was wrongly targeted by police.

The raid on Anne McGowan's home lasted from 9pm until just before midnight. Nothing was found, and she said police actions have cast a cloud over her reputation.

During the search, rioting broke out, during which a dissident New IRA gunman shot Ms McKee, who was observing the rioting, as he fired at police lines.

The timing of the police operation has been criticised by People Before Profit councillor Eamonn McCann.

Saying the actions of dissidents on the night could never be justified, he questioned why the search could not have been conducted at a different time.

“Why were police raiding a house in the Creggan at that time of the night? Why not at six o'clock in the morning?” he said.

A number of community leaders also said they were contacted by police and told about the operation.

They said they were asked to go to the scene to calm down any potential trouble but when they reached the area rioting had already broken out.

PSNI spokesman, Superintendent Alan Hutton defended the actions of police.

"On this occasion, and as we have done many times here in the city, we reached out to people within the community as the searches were taking place.

"This is common practice to assist in minimising any potential disruption within the community."

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