Paul Williams: 'Sickening killing of a journalist seeking only the betterment of her society'
The utterly senseless murder of Lyra McKee, a young talented journalist who was just doing her job, is another depressing milestone in the history of Northern Ireland.
In this divided place where symbolism means a lot to the two sectarian tribes who dominate the stultified political landscape, this horrific outrage is even more poignant as it happened on the eve of Good Friday, a day synonymous with hope and peace.
It serves as a reminder that 21 years after that historical watershed, the toxic hatred which drove the Troubles still courses through the bloodstream.
Lyra, an immensely talented, award-winning journalist, characterised the vibrant, hopeful generation that grew up in the post-conflict era.
Having grown up in Belfast, just off the area once known at the height of the Troubles as the 'Murder Mile', she was drawn in her work to making sense of the dark past for her generation. According to her publishing agents, Lyra was focused in her work on the "indirect ways violence of war plays out, through its secondary waves of victims".
How sickening it is to think this young woman has become a victim of that which she sought to elucidate for the betterment of her society.
We in the media profession in Ireland have now witnessed a third colleague murdered for doing their jobs.
Her name joins those of Veronica Guerin and Martin O'Hagan, who were targeted by organised criminals and terrorists.
While the whole world is united in its revulsion at this outrage, a statement issued yesterday by Saoradh, the so-called political wing of those responsible, the New IRA, was not only deeply insulting to every right-thinking human being but illustrative of their twisted minds.
The delusional monsters attempted to diminish their culpability for the murder as if it was an accident and tried to lay the blame "squarely at the feet of the British crown forces, who sought to grab headlines and engineered confrontation with the community".
Then this classic example of detached reality continued: "During this attack on the community, a Republican volunteer attempted to defend people from the PSNI/RUC.
"Tragically a young journalist covering the events, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally while standing behind armed crown force personnel and armoured vehicles."
The words are redolent of the type of statements issued throughout the Troubles by the Provos and UVF following similar needless atrocities.
The truth is a gifted, caring human was trampled under the jackboot of a toxic criminal organisation whose soldiers are no more than the detritus produced during 40 years of violent Republicanism.
They call themselves the New IRA, an updated version of the Provisional IRA, the IRA, the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA but, whatever titles they give themselves, they are the latest in a long line of criminal psychopaths looking for an excuse to cause mayhem and devastation.