Northern Irish police arrest man over Lyra McKee murder

Detectives investigating the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland have arrested a 46-year-old man and carried out searches at properties near the site of the shooting, police have said.

McKee’s shooting in April by a member of an Irish nationalist armed group during a riot in Londonderry, also known as Derry, sparked outrage in the province where a 1998 peace deal mostly ended three decades of sectarian violence that cost the lives of some 3,600 people.

Police, who suspect the gunman who shot McKee dead is in his late teens, have arrested and released several people since the killing. The man arrested on Thursday will be questioned under counterterrorism legislation.

A number of items were also seized and taken for examination, police said in a statement.

The New IRA, one of a small number of groups that oppose the peace accord, has said that one of its members shot the 29-year-old reporter dead in the Creggan area of Londonderry when opening fire on police during a riot McKee was watching.

McKee’s death caused wide shock in the region. She had been published in the Belfast Telegraph and The Atlantic and was the first journalist killed on the job in the United Kingdom for almost 20 years. 

She had written a book, Angels with Blue Faces, about a political murder that took place during the Troubles, Northern Ireland’s 30-year period of sectarian conflict between largely Catholic republicans, who wanted to reunite Ireland as one country, and mostly Protestant unionists, who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK. A second book was due to be published next year.

The killing, which followed a large car bomb in Londonderry in January that police also blamed on the New IRA, has raised fears that small armed groups are exploiting a two-year political vacuum in Northern Ireland and tensions caused by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) and most other paramilitary groups have disarmed since Northern Ireland’s 1998 peace accord, but a small number of dissidents refused to abandon violence, and have targeted police and prison officials in bombings and shootings.

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