Tuesday 17 September 2019

Kevin Doyle: 'McKee was a master of words - those who snuffed out her life are clearly not'

Mark of respect: Flowers and a candle are left at the spot where 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead. Photo: Reuters
Mark of respect: Flowers and a candle are left at the spot where 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead. Photo: Reuters
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

One line stood out in the New IRA's statement claiming responsibility for the murder of Lyra McKee.

It wasn't the pointless apology or the misplaced explanation for how she died.

The real story is what it said about where we go from here.

Across this island there has been condemnation of its attacks and even the political leaders who have abandoned power-sharing are talking about talking.

But the New IRA doesn't seem to care about the will of ordinary people.

Its statement can be read more as a threat than a genuine effort at regret.

It says that the dissident group's decision-makers have "instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy".

Apparently it is going to "put in place measures to help ensure this".

Let us recall for a second what happened to Lyra McKee late last Thursday night.

She was standing close to an armoured PSNI vehicle in the Creggan area of Derry, along with a crowd of people.

They were watching scenes from an era that should be confined to history or, as the young journalist herself described it on social media, "absolute madness".

The bullet that had to stop somewhere could have hit the armoured vehicle. It could have hit a wall or a child. It did hit Lyra McKee.

The CCTV released by the PSNI showed what appears to be a young man peering around a corner and firing recklessly.

The inference from the New IRA statement is that he should have taken more care.

According to the dissidents he had been "deployed" after "heavily armed crown forces" provoked rioting.

"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 statement says.

Lyra McKee was a master of words. Clearly those who snuffed out her life are not.

What it hopes to achieve with its actions and its words is not clear. If it believes the people of this island want to go back to war then it is even more deluded than its statement suggested.

Sadly there are a disenfranchised few who believe in an unfinished revolution - but it should be clear to the world that the vast majority believe in peace.

Thousands will gather in Belfast today to pay their respects to Ms McKee.

But more than that, they will try to send out a clear signal to the world that Ireland is moving forwards, not backwards.

Words will never be enough to prove that. Actions will be needed across the political divide.

However, the message to be carried live by Lyra McKee's journalistic colleagues should drown out that which has come from the New IRA.

Irish Independent

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