Michael D Higgins tells dissidents to reflect on their ‘appalling’ actions

The president has said those behind the killing of a journalist in Derry do not represent anybody on the island.

Michael D Higgins urged them to reflect on their “appalling” actions during a visit to Belfast after signing a book of condolence to Lyra McKee.

Mr Higgins and his wife Sabina were welcomed to Belfast City Hall by the Lord Lieutenant of the County Borough of Belfast Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle and Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey.

He was also greeted by Gerry Carson, chairman of the NUJ’s Belfast and district branch.

Irish President Michael D Higgins (centre) is greeted by Gerry Carson, of the NUJ at Belfast City Hall (Liam McBurney/PA)

When asked whether he had any message for the dissident republicans who have been blamed for the killing, the Irish president said: “We must be able to speak and send messages to people.

“I say I hope when you reflect on what you have done, you will see the appalling, unsustainable, unjustified nature of what you have done.

“You have robbed her partner of their life together, and her family.

“I think as well it is very important for us to remember that we are not just simply talking about a writer, someone who was a journalist of skill, but also somebody who was a campaigner on so many issues that affect rights of all of us, and very particularly those rights that affect the equality of men, women and gender issues.”

Irish President Michael D Higgins speaks to media after signing the book of condolence at Belfast City Hall in remembrance of murdered journalist Lyra McKee. (Liam McBurney/PA)

After Mr Higgins signed the condolence book, he condemned the “outrageous” murder of Ms McKee.

“Earlier this morning, I expressed my shock on behalf of all of the Irish people and our outrage too at the taking of the life of a talented writer, journalist, campaigner for rights,” he said.

“In the course of her professional work to be taken away in such a fashion, and I have to say as well by those who represent, I think, nobody on this island.

“It was an outrageous act and I want on behalf of all of the people of Ireland to express our deepest sympathy to her partner Sara and her family and friends, and all of those who will have worked with her.”

He added: “The loss of a journalist at any time in any part of the world is an attack on truth itself.

“The circumstances in which it happened, the firing on the police force that are seeking to protect the peace process, cannot be condoned by anybody.”

- Press Association

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