Northern Ireland: Freelance journalist Lyra McKee shot dead during riots

Brussels, April 19, 2019 – Journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead while she was covering the riots at the Creggan housing estate in the city of Londonderry (Derry), Northern Ireland, on Thursday night 19 April. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) join their affiliate the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland in condemning this killing and call on a full investigation into her death.

A former Belfast Telegraph journalist and a NUJ member, Lyra McKee, 29, was a freelancer and a novelist.

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The riots took place in the run-up to the Easter weekend, which also marks the anniversary of a 1916 uprising against British rule.

Violence exploded in Northern Ireland following police searches in the Creggan area in Londonderry.

According to media reports, Lyra McKee was killed after a gunman appeared and fired shots towards the police position near which she was standing. The journalist had been live-tweeting prior to the shooting from the scene.

The Irish police launched a murder inquiry and blamed dissident republicans for the death.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ)’s General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “A young, vibrant life has been destroyed in a senseless act of violence. Our thoughts are with her partner, family and many friends and colleagues. A bright light has been quenched and that plunges all of us into darkness. Her death is a major loss to journalism

IFJ President Philippe Leruth said: “We express our deep condolences to Lyra McKee’s family and relatives. Lyra’s death is a real loss for press freedom in Europe and for the young generation of journalists. We urge Irish authorities to ensure a full investigation into her death.”

EFJ President Mogens Blicher BjerregårdsaidLyra McKee was a very dedicated journalist. She has extensively covered the Northern Irish conflict, focusing on the victims of violence. She was killed on duty, while informing the public about last night’s police operations. We call on the authorities to shed light on this crime. Her case cannot become a new case of impunity.”

Lyra McKee is the first journalist to be killed in the United Kingdom since Martin O’Hagan in 2001.