A gun found by police during searches in Derry/Londonderry has been confirmed by investigators to be the weapon used in the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.
Lyra McKee was shot dead while observing disorder in the Creggan area of Derry on 19 April 2019. The New IRA claimed responsibility for her murder.
The gun, along with a bomb, was found during planned police searches in Derry/Londonderry in the Ballymagroarty area of the city.
The police said that they hoped the discovery would help them to bring the person who fired the shots to justice, but that they are also looking at what the gun can tell them about who else was involved in the violence that resulted in Lyra’s death.
Paul McIntyre – a 52-year-old man from Derry/Londonderry – has been charged with the murder of Lyra McKee. McIntyre was initially released on bail. However, on appeal to the High Court, the prosecution was able to overturn the bail decision by the Magistrate, returning McIntyre to custody based on the risk of further offences.
A further application for bail was subsequently refused by the court. District Judge Steven Keown made the ruling at the magistrate’s court in Derry/Londonderry, adjourning the case until May 21.
McIntyre remains in custody and the case has not yet been brought to trial. It’s believed that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused delays, and this new evidence may also change the timetable for the prosecution.
Who was Lyra McKee?
McKee was born in 1990 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her interest in journalism began when she was fourteen – she wrote for the school newspaper at St Gemma’s High School. She went on to win a place on a training scheme for journalists, and was awarded the Young Journalist Award by Sky News in 2006.
McKee attended Birmingham City University and graduated with a Master’s Degree in online journalism.
McKee first came to public attention in 2014, with the publication of a blog post titled “Letter to my 14-year-old self” in which she described the challenges of growing up gay in Belfast – it was subsequently made into a short film.
McKee’s work as a journalist included writing for a number of different publications. In 2016, Forbes magazine named her as one of its “30 under 30 in media” because of her work as an investigative reporter.
Publication of her first book, a non-fiction work titled Angels with Blue Faces, was imminent at the time of her death. It deals with the Provisional IRA killing of Belfast MP Robert Bradford. At the time of her death, her second book, The Lost Boys, was scheduled for release by Faber in 2020. It concerns the disappearances of Thomas Spence and John Rodgers from Belfast’s Falls Road in November 1974.
McKee wrote on the consequences of The Troubles. At the time of her death, McKee was researching unsolved killings during The Troubles in Northern Ireland of the late 20th century.
In March 2019, Irish Times writer Martin Doyle featured McKee in his article “Best of Irish: 10 rising stars of Irish writing”.
McKee was in a domestic partnership with Sara Canning, and had moved to Derry/Londonderry to be with her.
In April 2019, McKee was shot during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Violence broke out after police raids on dissidents with the aim of seizing munitions ahead of the Easter Rising commemorative parades due to take place in the area that weekend. The disturbances were centred on Fanad Drive. Rioters threw petrol bombs and burnt two vehicles. Police said that a gunman then fired up to twelve shots towards police officers. McKee, who was on Fanad Drive and standing near an armoured police Land Rover, was wounded. McKee was taken by police to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in an armoured police Land Rover, where she later died. She was 29.
The leaders of Northern Ireland’s main political parties, the DUP, Sinn Féin, UUP, SDLP, Alliance Party and Green Party, released a joint statement condemning the killing of McKee and described it as “an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes”. They also said that it was a “pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere”. They further reiterated their support for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, who were the intended targets of the gun attack.