The New IRA has admitted responsibility for the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry last week as police made a new arrest in connection with the killing.
McKee, 29, was shot in the head while reporting on rioting in the Creggan area on Thursday night and later died from her injuries.
Her last tweet, sent just minutes before she was shot, said: “Derry tonight. Absolute madness,” accompanied by a picture of smoke rising from the scene.
Police Service of Northern Ireland officers were carrying out a search operation aimed at disrupting dissident republicans ahead of the weekend’s commemoration of Irish independence.
More than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at officers in response and two cars were hijacked and set on fire before shots were fired “indiscriminately”.
In a short update this morning, the PSNI said a 57-year-old woman has been arrested in connection with the killing under the Terrorism Act and taken to Musgrave Serious Crime Suite.
Two men previously arrested by police investigating the shooting were released without charge at the weekend.
The New IRA, a merger of smaller republican groups including the Real IRA, admitted responsibility for the killing and apologised in a statement to The Irish News today using a recognised codeword.
It said: “On Thursday night following an incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British crown forces which provoked rioting, the IRA deployed our volunteers to engage.
“We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this.
“In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces.
“The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death.”
Sinead Quinn, a friend of McKee, told ITV the apology “means nothing”.
“It gives no-one comfort and in fact the way their statement continued on, which is basically ‘we’re not going to go away’, that flies in the face of the apology,” she said.
“So an apology without actual positive action means nothing.”
Friends of McKee’s also took action by putting red handprints on the outside walls of an office of Saoradh, a dissident republican group, in Derry yesterday.
The admission from the New IRA comes a day after the detective leading the investigation into McKee’s murder said 140 people had contacted police with information.
Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy said police had a “massive public positive response” to the investigation and that it was continuing at “rapid pace”.
He added: “My appeal today to witnesses who haven’t come forward to us is simple. Please, come forward and have a conversation with me. Come and talk to me.”
The PSNI previously said it believed the New IRA was responsible for the “senseless” killing, in which shots were fired indiscriminately near a large group of local people who had gathered at the scene.
Lyra McKee wrote about the legacy of the Troubles in Northern Ireland as a freelance writer and journalist who featured in publications such as the Belfast Telegraph, Private Eye and The Atlantic.
She was also widely recognised as a rising star of journalism – appearing in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2016 and being named as Sky News’ Young Journalist of the Year in 2006.
McKee had signed a two-book deal with publisher Faber and Faber, with the first release about the Troubles, titled The Lost Boys, due to be published next year.
Her funeral will be held at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast at 1pm tomorrow.
Picture: Family handout/PA Wire