Woman arrested by detectives investigating Lyra McKee murder released unconditionally

Update 7.25pm: The 57-year-old woman arrested this morning by detectives investigating the murder of Lyra McKee has been released unconditionally.

Detectives from the PSNI Major Investigation Team continue to appeal for help from the local community in Creggan or anyone with information.

The senior detective leading the investigation into the murder revealed yesterday that since her death more than 140 people have contacted police with information.

The UK's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley made a statement in the House of Commons relating to the death of Ms McKee.

She said: "Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist, and a true loss to Northern Ireland. She was a role model to many who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place.

"This is also a tragedy for the community in Creggan and the city as a whole.

"This was a young woman with so much hope and so much to offer, unlike those who have continually shown that they have nothing to offer.

It remains the case across Northern Ireland that small numbers of dissident republican terrorists remain intent on killing.
What we have seen in the days since Lyra McKee's death is that the communities that they claim to represent and seek to control don't want them.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said the investigation to find her killer is continuing at a “rapid pace”.

The New IRA said it was behind the journalist's murder and offered its "full and sincere apologies" to Lyra's partner, family and friends.

It was confirmed today that President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney will attend Ms McKree's funeral on Wednesday.

Update 3.15pm: Limerick journalists hold vigil in solidarity with murdered colleague Lyra McKee

By David Raleigh

Journalists in Limerick held a lunchtime vigil in memory of murdered colleague Lyra McKee, who was shot dead while covering a riot in Derry last Thursday night.

Colleagues of the murdered reporter were united in their condemnation of Ms McKee’s murder, which a group calling itself the ‘New IRA’ has claimed responsibility for.

“We’re here because of the tragic and obnoxious killing of our colleague Lyra McKee, to show solidarity with other journalists, with her partner, her family, and friends, and with all our colleagues in Ireland, north and south,” explained Norma Prendiville, Chairperson of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), South West branch.

“Over 160 journalists around the world were murdered last year in the course of their duty. In many ways we thought those days in Northern Ireland were finished, so it was a real, deep, seismic shock to all of us when we heard about Lyra’s killing.”

Ms Prendiville also remembered Martin O’Hagan, a former IRA gun-runner turned investigative journalist with the Sunday World, who was assassinated almost 20 years ago by “loyalist paramilitaries” after years of exposing activities of paramilitary groups in the north.

Holding a banner with a large photograph of Ms McKee emblazoned with the phrase “WE STAND WITH LYRA”, Ms Prendiville added: “We want Lyra to be remembered for the committed journalist that she was; she was non sectarian, she was anti-sectarian, she stood for justice, and she was committed to truth.

"And, as President Michael D Higgins has said, an attack on a journalist is an attack on truth.”

Ms Prendiville a seasoned correspondent with the Limerick Leader newspaper said Ms McKee’s murder was a sober reminder of the so-called northern Troubles.

“In the north, we thought the days of journalists being under attack were over - thats sadly and tragically is not the case, but we would hope this will change.”

Mary Dundon, Head of Journalism and senior lecturer at University of Limerick, who also attended the vigil, said: “I just think it’s a terrible tragedy that another journalist would loose their life in the north.”

We thought we had a peace process that was working - but I think the big lesson out of this is that our politicians just need to get their act together now and sit down and start making constitutional politics work - if they don't we are going to have more of this.

“We all thought the job was quite safe in Ireland until this happened, and, of course, during The Troubles, it wasn't safe.

"But, it is a reminder that if they don't sit down now and get their act together we are going to have more of this.”

The NUJ announced today that it will be holding vigils Belfast, London and Glasgow tomorrow, the day of Ms McKee's funeral.

In Dublin, colleagues of Ms McKee are holding a vigil in the Garden of Remembrance at 6pm this evening.

Update 1.45pm: Michael D Higgins and Simon Coveney to attend funeral of Lyra Mckee

It has been confirmed that President Michael D Higgins and Tánaiste Simon Coveney will attend the funeral of journalist Lyra McKee.

The service will take place in Belfast tomorrow afternoon.

The New IRA earlier apologised in a statement made to The Irish News for the death of the 29-year-old journalist.

It offered its "full and sincere apologies" to Lyra's partner, family and friends.

The dissident republican group said that she was tragically killed in the course of attacking the enemy and that their volunteers were "deployed to engage"

"We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this," it said in its statement.

Meanwhile, a 57-year-old woman arrested in connection with Lyra's murder remains in police custody and is being questioned under the UK's Terrorism Act.

Update - 9.30am: A 57-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee in Derry.

She is being questioned under the UK Terrorism Act by police in the North.

It comes as the New IRA said it was behind the journalist's murder and offered its "full and sincere apologies" to Lyra's partner, family and friends.

Earlier: The New IRA has claimed responsibility for the killing of Lyra McKee.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead while covering riots in Derry on Thursday night.

In a statement given to the Irish News using a recognised code word, the New IRA has offered its "full and sincere apologies" to Lyra's partner, family and friends.

The dissident republican group says she was tragically killed in the course of attacking the enemy.

They say their volunteers were "deployed to engage" after police raided a number of homes on the Creggan estate on Thursday.

In the violence that followed, Lyra McKee was shot while standing beside a police van and later died.

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 Easter Risin

The statement said: “On Thursday night following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage.

“We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.

“In the course of attacking the enemy, Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces.

The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.

The admission comes as the PSNI say the investigation into the killing is continuing at a “rapid pace”.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said more than 140 people had contacted officers with information, adding: “This was an attack on the community. Lyra, tragically, was a random victim and I need the public to continue to support us.

“Many witnesses have contacted us to give us information that has been provided to them.

“More than 140 people have contacted us via our MIPP (Major Incident Public Portal) with messages, including mobile phone footage.”

Mr Murphy appealed for witnesses or anyone with information to come forward.

“I want to reassure people that you don’t have to commit to anything today. I just need to speak to people to understand what they know,” he said.

The appeal came after friends of the journalist protested by defacing an office belonging to a dissident republican group by putting red handprints on the walls of its headquarters in Derry on Monday.

A number of Miss McKee’s friends walked to Junior McDaid House, where they used a pot of red paint to place handprints on the side of the office walls.

A group of some six men, understood to be members of republican group Saoradh, who are associated with the New IRA, stood outside the building during the protest.

Miss McKee’s friend Sinead Quinn, who took part in the protest, said: “We have used red paint because they have blood on their hands for what has happened.

“They have encouraged it, they have moulded these young people into what they are and they are standing behind them handing them guns.

Lyra deserves more and I am so glad there are so many people here today to see and watch these men looking at us.

“Lyra McKee’s name will never be forgotten in this town,” Ms Quinn added.

Lyra's funeral takes place in Belfast tomorrow.

- Additional reporting Press Association

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