Northern Ireland: Politicians condemn violence after journalist Lyra McKee's death

21 years after the Good Friday agreement, journalist Lyra McKee's death in a riot has brought Londonderry's tortured past back to the fore as Brexit woes threaten to unravel a fragile border peace.

In the aftermath of Thursday's death of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland, representatives from all sides of the political spectrum have offered their condolences and condemned the use of violence against the backdrop of Northern Ireland's difficult history.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned that "we cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past," adding "This was an act of fear. This was an act of hate. This was an act of cowardice. Those who carried it out do not share the values of our nation, nor our Republic," he said.

Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney also expressed his condolences via Twitter.

In Brussels, a European Commission spokesman condemned the "terrible incident".

"We condemn such violence, and we are confident that the UK authorities will ascertain the exact circumstances of this tragic event," he said.

'Shocking and truly senseless'

In London, the Prime Minister Theresa May's office tweeted condolences as well. "The death of Lyra McKee in last night's suspected terrorist incident in Londonderry is shocking and truly senseless."

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was visiting with a congressional delegation in support of upholding the Good Friday peace agreement, joined in a minute's silence for McKee, saying it was "especially poignant" that it was being held on Good Friday.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 mostly brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as "the Troubles."

'Snuffed out' too soon

At a vigil Sara Canning, McKee's partner, said that the late journalist's amazing potential had been snuffed out.

"It has left so many friends without their confidante," she said. Canning said the senseless murder "has left me without the love of my life, the woman I was planning to grow old with."

Related Subjects

Already in 2006, she had been named Sky News Young Journalist of the Year, and in 2016 Forbes magazine had named McKee one of the "30 under 30" young media professionals to watch.

Just before her death the journalist, a native of Belfast, had tweeted from the scene of a riot: "Derry tonight. Absolute madness."

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

Architects of the accord

Then-Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, former US Senator George Mitchell and ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair celebrate after finalizing the Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998. The pact followed lengthy negotiations and largely put an end to decades of sectarian violence, known as "the troubles," in which more than 3,000 people died.

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

Historic peace deal

The agreement between Britain, Ireland and the main Northern Ireland political parties, backed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), led to a Protestant-Catholic power-sharing government in the north. In the years that followed the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA destroyed its stockpile of weapons and the British military dismantled its bases in Northern Ireland.

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

'Prepared for peace'

Two Belfast locals read a copy of the agreement the day after it was announced. A mural in the background reads: "Prepared for peace, ready for war." Two decades on, some divisions have resurfaced.

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

Twenty years later...

Northern Ireland's power-sharing government collapsed at the start of 2017 over disagreements between the nationalist Sinn Fein and the loyalist Democratic Unionist Party. Former US President Bill Clinton, who was due to attend at a commemorative event in Belfast on Tuesday, urged politicians to end the "paralysis." Britain's decision to leave the EU has also complicated the situation.

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

Return to to Northern Ireland

Former US Senator George Mitchell, who served as the chairman of the peace negotiations, is also taking part in anniversary events with Clinton, Blair, Ahern and others.

20 years on, Northern Ireland marks peace deal

Architects of the Good Friday accord celebrate 20 years of "building peace"

The leaders of the Good Friday peace talks — Ahern, Blair, Clinton and Mitchell — commemorated the 20th anniversary of the peace accord in Belfast on Tuesday. "Northern Ireland today is unrecognizable to the Northern Ireland of two decades ago," Mitchell said, but stressed that it will take "courageous political leadership" to meet new challenges, a likely reference to Brexit.

Easter troubles

The violence came in the run-up to the Easter weekend, when Republicans opposed to the British presence in Northern Ireland mark the anniversary of a 1916 uprising against British rule.

A car bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry earlier this year were also blamed on a dissident paramilitary group.

Michelle O'Neill, the deputy leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, condemned the killing.

"My heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents," she wrote on Twitter. "This was an attack on the community, an attack on the peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement," she added, calling for calm.

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Union Party, which is in favor of Britain's presence in Northern Ireland, described the death as "heartbreaking news."

"A senseless act. A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back," she wrote on Twitter.

Around 3,500 people were killed in the conflict, many at the hands of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). Police have blamed a group called the New IRA for the flare-up in violence in recent months.

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DW News | 19.04.2019

Northern Ireland: Journalist killed during riots in Derry

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