Sunday 26 May 2019

Lyra's friends leave 'bloody handprints' on Saoradh office

'We are not afraid,' say Derry protesters

Hand delivered: Friends of Lyra McKee paint blood-red handprints on the Derry office of dissident republicans. Photo: Trevor McBride
Hand delivered: Friends of Lyra McKee paint blood-red handprints on the Derry office of dissident republicans. Photo: Trevor McBride

Cate McCurry and Adrian Rutherford

Friends of murdered journalist Lyra McKee have defaced an office in Derry belonging to a dissident republican group by putting red handprints on its walls.

Tensions ran high during the protest with a group of six men - understood to be members of republican group Saoradh - standing outside the building.

PSNI officers were also present and later asked for the names of those involved in the incident.

The dissident republican New IRA is being blamed for shooting the young journalist in the head during a disturbance in the Creggan area of Derry last Thursday night.

Two men, aged 18 and 19, who were arrested in connection with the murder investigation, were released from custody on Sunday.

Sinead Quinn, a friend of Ms McKee 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.

"They need to take responsibility today for what has happened.

"They have shirked it so far by saying it was an accidental shooting. You don't shoot accidentally.

"When you put a gun into someone's hand and they shoot it, that's murder.

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

"They are not a representation of republican people in this town.

"Those people don't represent (republicanism). Nobody can advocate shooting into a crowd of people and shooting a 29-year-old woman dead.

"People have been afraid to stand up to people like this, we are not afraid."

The red hand was last night being used as a symbol of protest online, with many on Twitter using it as their profile photo.

The group of friends have pledged to do more in Ms McKee's memory.

"Lyra's McKee's name will never be forgotten in this town," Ms Quinn added.

"We have to do it for her."

Local resident John Lindsay said: "We are using this as an opportunity to speak out against these people.

"The whole town has told them they are not wanted here.

"They have freedom to speak, they don't have freedom for violence and they don't have the right to carry out acts of violence.

"There is mood change here, even hardline republicans are speaking out against them and saying they need to desist.

"My message to them is go away and get off our backs and stop dragging children into the past into a life of misery."

The protest comes as up to 200 members and supporters of Saoradh took part in an Easter Monday commemoration march in west Belfast.

A similar march that was to be held in Derry yesterday was called off following Ms McKee's murder.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Simon Coveney will travel to the North today and will represent the Government at Ms McKee's funeral, which takes place at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast tomorrow.

Last night, the detective leading the hunt for the journalist's killer said that the investigation was progressing at a rapid pace but urged more witnesses to come forward.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said more than 140 people have contacted police with information via the major incident public portal.

"I know there are people in the community who have information but feel they can't come forward to us, who feel scared.

"We have sought prosecutorial advice from the Public Prosecution Service and I want to reassure you that we will work with you sensitively and give you all the support we can," he added.

Irish Independent

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