An insult to Lyra McKee's memory

When the writer and campaigner Lyra McKee was shot dead in Derry on April 18, 2019, the organisation known as the New IRA admitted responsibility for her murder, offered apologies to her family and partner and said she had not been its intended target.

Ms McKee (29) was among many people watching rioting which was taking place in the densely populated Creggan estate, and was standing some distance away not far from an armoured police vehicle.

A lone gunman fired shots in the general direction of the PSNI in an entirely reckless attack which endangered everyone in the area and ended up fatally wounding Ms McKee.

There was a huge wave of anger and revulsion after the outrage, with large numbers of ordinary citizens attending vigils both in Derry and across Ireland, and representatives of all the main churches and political parties uniting in condemnation.

Genuine hopes began to rise that the handful of tiny groups which were still engaged in acts of violence would finally realise that their campaigns were futile and turn instead to the constitutional methods which have always been available since the start of The Troubles.

Every murder which took place both before and after the transformational Good Friday Agreement, whether carried out by republicans, loyalists or the forces of the state, was cruel and evil and resulted only in misery and bitterness on all sides.

However, the New IRA, while virtually dormant, had not completely gone away and earlier this week issued a statement claiming that it had fired seven shots at police officers in the vicinity of a republican bonfire attended by hundreds of people in the Bogside district of Derry on the night of August 15.

Although no one was injured, reports suggested that what sounded like gunfire had indeed been heard at the time and a full investigation is under way.

It is believed to have been been the first gun attack on police officers in Derry since the appalling circumstances in Creggan which resulted in the murder of Ms McKee just a short distance from the Bogside a little over three years ago.

The New IRA's callous actions placed many more innocent lives at direct risk and were nothing less than a complete insult to the memory of a talented and much loved young woman who had made her home in the city.