Lyra McKee murder: Derry gunman ‘should see hospital heartbreak’

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee wanted to write about the effects of violence on young people in Derry, says a priest

A priest who anointed Lyra McKee after she was shot has said he wished that the gunman could have gone to the hospital where she was taken and seen “what they did” to her and her family.

Ms McKee, 29, was killed during violence in Londonderry, onThursday.

Police said the dissident republican group the New IRA was “likely” to be behind the shooting.

Father Joseph Gormley told BBC News NI he was called to the hospital shortly after 00:00 BST on Friday.

[Ms McKee’s family] just thought it was somebody else, it had to be somebody else – it wasn’t Lyra,” said Fr Gormley.

“I would love if those people who had fired those shots came over and saw what they did in Altnagelvin [Hospital] last night, if they came over and saw that scene of a young woman and her family.

Fr Joe Gormely
Fr Gormley said Ms McKee’s partner and family “are heartbroken”

“This is their Good Friday and we have to stand beside them…on this terrible cross that has been visited by such an evil act.”

Fr Gormley said Derry was not “a playground” for political games and the violence in the city was “beyond anti-social”.

“How dare they set themselves up as some sort of arbitrator for disputes within our community.

“They don’t listen but what needs to happen is we all need to get off the fence – we need to be saying face-to-face to people that we know that enough is enough.

“These are not games – these are deadly actions.”

He added that Ms McKee “in her heart of hearts wanted to make a contribution to ending this cycle of violence by writing about the effects of violence on our young people”.

Lyra McKee’s murder was a horrendous act, says PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton

He also called for a march that was organised to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Monday to be cancelled in the wake of Ms McKee’s death.

An illegal dissident republican parade was due to take place in the Creggan estate in Derry, where she was shot.

“If these people are serious about our community, what they will do is… they will call that off,” he said.

“They will not have men in combat uniform walking past the place where Lyra McKee was murdered a few feet away.”

“It has to be called off.

People in paramilitary-style uniforms leading an Easter parade organised by Saoradh in Derry in 2017
A parade organised by dissident republicans – like this one in 2017 – was due to take place on Monday

“I’m speaking for, I’m sure, everyone in the Creggan but everyone has to make their voices felt.

“It would be so disrespectful to have that march.”

Shortly after the priest’s comments, dissident republicans posted on social media that the event would be cancelled.

A statement issued by political party Saoradh, which represents dissident republicans, sought to justify the use of violence.

The organisation extended its sympathy to Ms McKee’s family and friends and claimed that she was “killed accidentally” and her death was “heartbreaking”.

The Saoradh statement sparked a social media backlash, with hundreds of hostile comments criticising their version of events.