Dissident republicans energised by Lyra McKee murder, police commander claims

Dissident republicans energised by Lyra McKee murder, police commander claims

Dissident republicans have been energised by their murder of journalist Lyra McKee, enjoying the publicity the killing generated, a police commander has claimed.

Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray, the officer in charge of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s anti-terror response, said the New IRA derived “sick and sad” pleasure in the reaction to the shooting, motivating them to intensify their activities in the region.

Ms Gray expressed regret that the public outcry following the murder of the 29-year-old, as she observed rioting in Derry in April, did not act as a watershed moment for the dissidents to reconsider their adherence to violence.

She claimed the reverse has been true, saying the killing in Derry’s Creggan area was a factor in the recent spike in dissident murder bids in the region.

“They enjoyed and were energised by the coverage they got following the murder of Lyra McKee – that actually buoyed them,” she told the PA news agency.

“Certainly they weren’t reaching towards any cessation of violence or stepping back from what they did – very, very sadly when the rest of the world is looking at this and saying what an outrage this is.”

She added: “I honestly thought, there is an opportunity here in society, and I think everybody got that, there was a real sense this could be a turning point and this could be a tipping point.

Overall I am absolutely convinced that it actually energised them in a very sick and sad way, it has energised their efforts I believe

“Overall I am absolutely convinced that it actually energised them in a very sick and sad way, it has energised their efforts I believe.”

Ms Gray called a statement from the New IRA in the wake of the murder, in which it said it would be advising members to be more careful when targeting security forces, “ludicrous”.

“They certainly haven’t stopped recruiting, the New IRA haven’t stopped recruiting in their time since April,” she said.

“I think in some sick and sad way they have quite enjoyed the publicity that it brought them and I think it’s just tragic that death – that has been an unintended consequence I would image on their behalf – has resulted in no step back, no reflection whatsoever, other than ‘we’ll tell our volunteers to be more careful in the future’.”

Ms Gray also expressed concern that dissidents were attracting young recruits into their ranks.

“We are seeing activity at every level,” she said.

“I think it’s really sad that we do see young people being actively recruited in.

“There are 17, 18, 19-year-olds, there’s probably younger being involved and being influenced as well.

“These are kids that are born following the ceasefire and everything else, and it is pure exploitation of young people.

“I describe the older individuals that are involved in this, they are old enough to be these kids’ parents, old enough to know better, but they are predators and they are exploiting children.

“And I just think it’s incredibly sad that young people are being brought into a life of actually being encouraged and carrying out terrorist activity, and the guns are being put in their hands by older more experienced people who may or may not be still actively involved as well.

“Kids’ lives are going to be ruined as they go forward, it’s sad.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

Lyra McKee’s sister ‘devastated’ over reaction to her Stormont return pleaLyra McKee’s sister ‘devastated’ over reaction to her Stormont return plea

'We are being failed in Northern Ireland' - Lyra McKee's partner warns of increasing violence'We are being failed in Northern Ireland' - Lyra McKee's partner warns of increasing violence

Standing ovation for sister of Lyra McKee as she delivers Stormont speechStanding ovation for sister of Lyra McKee as she delivers Stormont speech

Lyra McKee’s partner ‘appalled’ by republican’s predictions of future violenceLyra McKee’s partner ‘appalled’ by republican’s predictions of future violence


More in this Section

Man gets partially suspended sentence for twice attacking ex-partner in front of their son at children's hospitalMan gets partially suspended sentence for twice attacking ex-partner in front of their son at children's hospital

'I am free of his disgusting and sick secret,' says victim after his older brother is jailed for decade of sexual abuse and rape'I am free of his disgusting and sick secret,' says victim after his older brother is jailed for decade of sexual abuse and rape

Varadkar: New Brexit deal is final offer from EUVaradkar: New Brexit deal is final offer from EU

'If I wasn't a whistleblower then I'd have gotten a commendation,' Garda tells Disclosures Tribunal'If I wasn't a whistleblower then I'd have gotten a commendation,' Garda tells Disclosures Tribunal


Lifestyle

Mountaintop monasteries, vicious-looking vultures, and a seriously impressive cable car.As Ryanair launches flights to Armenia, here’s why it deserves to be your next holiday destination

Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra played a storming gig at Cork Opera House, writes Des O'Driscoll Live Music Review: Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Concerns about people’s ability to access their own money have been growing – here’s what the debate is all about.Are we actually going to end up as a cashless society?

Everything entertainment you need to look out forScene & Heard: Everything entertainment you need to look out for

More From The Irish Examiner