Saoradh claim 'Republican Volunteer' accidentally shot journalist Lyra McKee

The scene of last night's murder.
The scene of last night's murder.

The hardline republican group Saoradh has issued a statement claiming that a 'Republican Volunteer' accidentally shot dead 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee while trying to 'defend people from the PSNI/RUC' on Thursday night.

The group, which has consistently denied links to the 'IRA' but has refused to condemn its actions in the past, claimed shots were fired at the PSNI during "a series of attacks [by] heavily armed Crown Forces".

"The Crown Forces have waged a campaign of oppression in Republican Derry, and the community has endured ongoing State Violence in the area, with deafening silence from the political establishment representatives in the area. Saoradh has not shied away from highlighting this, including attacks on our members.

"In doing so we have continually gave our analysis that this oppression would inevitably be met with resistance, as has historically been the case," the group said in a statement.

Saoradh said last night's rioting and murder were the consequence of house raids againt republicans in advance of the Easter Rising commemorations this weekend.

"The inevitable reaction to such an incursion was resistance from the youth of Creggan. The blame for last night lies squarely at the feet of the British Crown Forces, who sought to grab headlines and engineered confrontation with the community.

"During this attack on the community, a Republican Volunteer attempted to defend people from the PSNI/RUC. Tragically a young journalist covering the events, Lyra McKee, was killed accidentally while standing behind armed Crown Force personnel and armoured vehicles.

"This outcome is heartbreaking and we extend our sincerest sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of the deceased.”