Journalist Shot Dead Covering Violence in Northern Ireland

(Bloomberg) -- A 29-year-old journalist died in a “terror incident” in Northern Ireland, according to police, who linked her death to dissident republicans.

Local freelance writer Lyra McKee died after shots were fired in Derry, or Londonderry, police said, adding they had begun a murder inquiry. The shooting took place amid rioting after police searches in one district of the city, and McKee was likely mistakenly hit rather than deliberately targeted.

The so-called New IRA were probably behind the killing, according to police.

“We are all full of sadness after last night’s events,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said. “We cannot allow those who want to propagate violence, fear and hate to drag us back to the past.”

Journalist Shot Dead Covering Violence in Northern Ireland

The episode is a reminder of the lingering tensions in the region. The walled city of Derry has been inextricably linked with the Northern Irish conflict, since “Bloody Sunday” in 1972 when British troops shot dead 13 unarmed civilians.

While violence has largely died out since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, tensions continue to simmer, possibly fermented by Brexit. Derry is closely bound to the EU, with about 78 percent of voters backing “remain” in the 2016 referendum.

Car Bomb

In January, a car bomb exploded in the city, and some Irish politicians have warned that a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit could further stoke tensions.
Still, there there seems little prospect of the widespread conflict that claimed 3,500 lives erupting again. In the year through April, two security related deaths were recorded, three fewer than occurred during the previous year.

“This news, coming on Good Friday, is a dark reminder to us all that our peace is fragile and that we must protect it everyday from those who want to shatter the progress that we have made,” said Colum Eastwood, a local member of the region’s power-sharing assembly.

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