Police have released images of the dissident republican gunman they believe murdered journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry.
Ms McKee was shot by a gunman aiming at police during disturbances on the city’s Creggan estate on April 18. The New IRA is being blamed.
Today, detectives in Northern Ireland released CCTV images of three men linked to the shooting, including one they believe fired the fatal shot, and urged those living on the estate to be brave and come forward.
Speaking about the main suspect, Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said: ‘He is shorter than both of the other men and is of stocky build.
‘It is my belief that he is the gunman that fired indiscriminately into the crowd and placed the community and police officers at risk. I believe he is the person who took the life of Lyra McKee.’
Police believe this man shot and killed journalist Lyra McKee during riots in Londonderry
Police released images of two other men, one who was with the gunman carrying a crate of petrol bombs (left) and another who was seen walking next to the gunman (right)
The CCTV shows three men – one said to have been carrying a crate of petrol bombs – walking across the road Central Drive a minute before the killing.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said today: ‘People saw this young man and his associates.
‘I think people in the community know who they are and I’m asking them today to come forward to help us.’
Mr Murphy called on residents of the estate to overcome any fears they might have about helping detectives.
‘I recognise that people living in Creggan may feel it is difficult to come forward to speak to police,’ he said.
‘Today I want to provide a personal reassurance that we are able to deal with those issues sensitively.
‘At Lyra’s funeral on Wednesday we heard many messages of the potential for a better future, but as I’ve said previously such sentiment will be all in vain if we can’t tackle the malign influences that some individuals continue to exert over our communities.’
Ms McKee was shot by a gunman was aiming at police during disturbances on April 18
The detective said the sentiment expressed at Lyra’s funeral this week would be in vain if the killer was not caught
More than 140 people have provided images, footage and other information to police, he said.
‘Such information simply gets me through the door but it doesn’t get me to the door of a courtroom. I need people to contact my team to talk to us about what they know,’ he added.
Yesterday, the Crimestoppers charity offered a reward of up to £10,000 to anyone providing information which directly led to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for murder.
At Lyra’s funeral on Wednesday, Father Martin Magill received a spontaneous standing ovation as he called her senseless killing a ‘huge injustice’, adding that he also ‘dared to hope’ something so awful could be a ‘doorway to a new beginning’.
He said: ‘Since Thursday night we have seen the coming together of many people in various places and the unifying of the community against violence. I commend our political leaders for standing together in Creggan on Good Friday.’
He then added: ‘I am, however, left with a question: “Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get us to this point?”
The new police appeal came as Facebook and Twitter suspended accounts for dissident republican group Saoradh in the wake of the murder.
Social media accounts for the dissident republican group Saoradh (pictured) have been shut down in the wake of the murder of Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee
Ms McKee’s friends put red hand prints on a building used by the group in a protest last week
New talks for Northern Ireland politicians
Northern Ireland’s rowing political parties will meet for talks for the first time in more than a year, it was revealed today.
An agreement has been reached to hold a string of meetings next month, Prime Minister Theresa May and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
Power-sharing talks failed last time in a row over Sinn Fein’s wish for an Irish language act and the DUP’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
The news of summit, two years and three months after the Stormont Assembly collapsed. At her funeral a priest sparked a standing ovations when he demanded to know why it had taken the horror of her death to unite politicians and urged them to protect the Good Friday agreement.
May and Varadkar said today they had heard ‘the unmistakable message to all political leaders that people across Northern Ireland want to see a new momentum for political progress. We agree that what is now needed is actions and not just words from all of us who are in positions of leadership’.
Social media firms removed the profiles of the Londonderry-based faction of Saoradh, a group which has the support of the dissident republican group the New IRA.
The New IRA is an amalgam of armed groups opposed to the peace process and it recently claimed responsibility for parcel bombs sent to London and Glasgow in March.
The murder has been widely condemned across the political spectrum, criticism fuelled by a statement released by the group apologising to the family of Ms McKee.
Saoradh’s national chairman Brian Kenna called for the New IRA to apologise for the murder during a speech at Milltown Cemetery on Easter Monday.
The group holds a number of social media profiles, however the main Saoradh profile on both platforms has been suspended, and the Twitter profile of one of their national executive members appears to have been deleted.
A Twitter spokesman said: ‘We have clear terms of service in place which we enforce when violations are identified.’