The New IRA, a recently formed and relatively small Irish nationalist militant group, took responsibility Tuesday for the killing Thursday night of 29-year-old journalist and author Lyra McKee. It was an accident, the group said in a statement to The Irish News, using "a recognized codeword" to prove the statement's authenticity. McKee, whose work focused on the the aftermath and human cost of the 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland, was shot dead while watching Irish nationalist youth clash with police in Londonderry after a police raid. Police have arrested a 57-year-old woman in connection with McKee's killing.
"In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces," the New IRA said, referring to the police. "The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family, and friends of Lyra McKee for her death." The New IRA, which formed in 2012, opposes the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that ended the "Troubles"; the much-larger Irish Republican Army (IRA) disarmed after the peace deal was ratified.
"McKee's death, which followed a large car bomb in Londonderry in January that police also blamed on the New IRA, raised fears that small marginalized militant groups are trying to exploit political tensions caused by Britain's decision to leave the European Union," Reuters reports. If Brexit leads to a reimposition of a hard border between Ireland (part of the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.), such militant groups are widely expected to ramp up the violence.
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