Call to restore powersharing as pair held over Lyra McKee murder are released

The leader of the SDLP has called for talks to restore powersharing at Stormont to begin immediately following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

It comes as two teenagers arrested over the murder of the promising young journalist and published author were released without charge on Sunday night.

The pair, aged 18 and 19, were released by the Police Service of Northern Ireland as officers appealed to anyone with information to contact them.

Miss McKee, 29, died after she was shot in the head by a member of the New IRA during a riot in Derry on Thursday.

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

Colum Eastwood said a there was an “unmistakable public desire that the tragic and terrible loss of Lyra McKee marks a turning point for our peace and political process”.

SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood (Liam McBurney/PA)
SDLP leader, Colum Eastwood (Liam McBurney/PA)

Within 48 hours of Miss McKee’s death, a republican group – associated with the New IRA – paraded down Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar condemned the march by Saoradh on Saturday.

He said the group’s actions were “beyond contempt” and that they had dishonoured the Irish national flag.

Republicans who embrace the peace process said on Sunday their violent dissident counterparts were caught in a futile and antiquated time warp.

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 it was high time those involved in Lyra’s killing disbanded and ended their futile actions.

Ms O’Neill addressed a commemoration of the Easter Rising battle for Irish independence at the City cemetery in Derry on Sunday.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill makes a speech during an Easter commemoration parade in Derry (Joe Boland/PA)
Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill makes a speech during an Easter commemoration parade in Derry (Joe Boland/PA)

She 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.”

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

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

“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.”

A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee (Joe Boland/PA)
A message of condolence for 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee (Joe Boland/PA)

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.

Mr Heaney, who said he identified with LGBTQI activist Miss McKee as he himself is gay, described Miss McKee’s killing as “absolutely disgusting”.

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.

- Press Association

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