Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee's death is forcing politicians to face hard truths, as dormant sectarian violence threatens to resurface in Northern Ireland.
At McKee's funeral in Belfast on Wednesday, the priest administering the service, Father Martin Magill, commended Northern Irish politicians — unionists and republicans alike — for their joint statement condemning violence and urging for calming following McKee's murder.
Many notable political leaders were sitting in the front pews, including Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster, British Prime Minister Theresa May, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar. But after the compliment, Magill directly challenged those in front of him, sparking a standing ovation from attendees.
The 29-year-old journalist was killed last Thursday while watching a riot in Derry, Northern Ireland, by stray bullets from dissident republicans believed to be affiliated with the New Irish Republican Army, a recently formed Irish nationalist militant group that does not recognize the terms of the Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998, which put a halt to sectarian violence in North Ireland.
In addition to McKee's murder, a large bomb detonated in Derry in January, though there were no casualties.
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. Peter Weber
When Britain's Prince Charles meets with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in Galway, Ireland, on Tuesday, it will be one step further past "the Troubles," the decades-long conflict between Irish republicans and unionists, the latter backed by Britain. It will also be the first meeting between Adams and a member of the British royal family, and the first royal visit with Sinn Féin leaders in the Republic of Ireland. Queen Elizabeth broke the ice in 2012, shaking hands with Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, former IRA chief of staff.
The expected handshake between Adams and Prince Charles, at a reception with some 100 Irish political leaders and guests, "was agreed to promote the process of resolving past injustices and promoting reconciliation and healing," said Sinn Féin party chairman Declan Kearney. But it will also have personal notes for both men.
Charles will visit Mullaghmore, a scenic spot in County Sligo where an IRA bomb killed his great uncle Lord Louis Mountbatten and two teenagers in 1979, an attack Adams said was justifiable at the time. On the other hand, Irish republicans remember that Prince Charles is colonel-in-chief of the British army's Parachute Regiment, which killed Irish civilians in 1971's "Ballymurphy Massacre" in Belfast and 1972's Bloody Sunday in Derry. Peter Weber