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Northern Ireland: Man charged with journalist’s murder

LONDON

A male suspect has been charged with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, Police Service in Northern Ireland (PSNI) said Wednesday.

“Detectives from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team have charged a 52-year-old man with the murder of 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee, who was shot dead by terrorists in Derry/Londonderry on 18 April 2019,” it said in a statement.

“The man, from the city who was arrested by detectives yesterday and taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite, is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and professing to be a member of a proscribed
organization.”

Four men arrested Tuesday in connection with the murder were detained in Londonderry and taken to Belfast for questioning.

The New IRA, a splinter dissident group, claimed responsibility for the “accidental” murder of McKee, who was killed April 18, 2019 while police dealing with a riot, were fired upon.

“I welcome today’s developments in the Lyra McKee murder investigation,” PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne said on social media. “Detectives are working hard in the pursuit of justice. Anyone with information should come forward to police.”

At the time of the murder, tensions in Northern Ireland were high due to the uncertainties of Brexit and the lack of devolved government since its collapse in January 2017.

A car bomb which targeted a courthouse in Londonderry (Derry) in January 2019 was blamed by local police on the self-declared “New IRA,” or Irish Republican Army.

A plot to blow up a ferry on Brexit Day, Jan. 31, was thwarted by police after suspicion was raised on social media.

The border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic was one of the thorniest issues in Brexit negotiations between the U.K. and EU.

A Brexit deal reached and ratified, aligns Northern Ireland with the EU, avoiding a hard border for the time being.

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum and it is feared the Brexit process could trigger enmity in the region.

The Troubles, an era of conflict between the British government and pro-British paramilitaries on one side and Irish Republicans and nationalists on the other – ended in 1998 when the Belfast Agreement put an end to decades of armed struggle in the divided U.K. region of Northern Ireland.

The U.K. and the Republic of Ireland signed the deal, brokered by the U.S. and eight political parties in Northern Ireland, on April 10, 1998.

The deal dubbed the Good Friday Agreement, largely saw the end of the Troubles-era violence, in which 3,500 people lost their lives.

However, splinter IRA groups are still active in the U.K. region.

Londonderry, where McKee was killed, was one of the locations that saw the fiercest clashes during the Troubles and the scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday incident, during which British paratroopers killed 14 civil rights movement protesters.

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