A Northern Ireland journalist was killed in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, in a shooting involving the New Irish Republican Army (New IRA) and police, reports the New York Times. 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee was covering the violence in Londonderry on the night of April 19 when she was shot in the crossfire and died. Her death comes on the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday agreement, a deal reached in 1998 to bring an end to the conflict between Republicans and unionists within Northern Ireland.
According to the New York Times, the Republicans, also known as nationalists, are mostly Catholic and push for Northern Ireland to be a part of a united Ireland. Unionists, who are mostly Protestant, want the country to stay a part of the United Kingdom.
The police believe this was a terrorist act by the New IRA, a small group who disagrees with the 1998 Good Friday agreement. They are the largest violent group in Northern Ireland today and are responsible for several other killings in the past decade.
The Guardian states that the website of Saoradh, a political party that holds the beliefs of the New IRA, blamed McKee’s death on “heavily armed crown forces,” implying there may be a deeper hidden meaning behind the violence, perhaps insinuating that the gunman fought to resist perceived British imperialism.
The chairman of Saoradh said in a statement, “Every generation, going back 800 years, Irish republicans have confronted British occupation.” Rioting in Londonderry began on Thursday night, where two cars were set on fire, dozens of petrol bombs were thrown, and gunmen fired at police where civilians and journalists, including McKee, were standing. Police have informed civilians of a “new breed” of violent terrorists, reports The Washington Post.
The death of McKee was condemned by all the major political parties of Northern Ireland along with the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland. Some politicians believe Britain’s Brexit has increased tensions. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said McKee’s death was “a reminder of how fragile peace still is in Northern Ireland” and pushed for the Good Friday agreement to be respected.
Police in Northern Ireland have announced that they have arrested two men, aged 18 and 19, for the violence that resulted in the death of McKee. The two were taken to a police station in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, due to the gravity of the case.