Northern Ireland: Five years after her murder, still no justice for journalist Lyra McKee

Five years after journalist Lyra McKee was shot while observing a riot in Northern Ireland, no one has been convicted of her murder. On the anniversary of her death – and less than three weeks after journalists covering a parade in Derry once again faced violence –  Reporters Without Borders (RSF) renews its call for justice to be served without further delay. 

McKee, a talented investigative journalist of just 29, was shot on 18 April 2019 during a riot in the Creggan area of Londonderry. Three men have been charged with her murder, and a number of others with other offences on the night of her death, but their trial – which had been expected to open in early April – has yet to begin. The accused have denied the charges.

It is hard to believe that five years have passed, and Lyra McKee’s family are still trapped in a nightmare, waiting for her murderers to be held to account. It is vital that this culture of impunity come to an end and justice be served – not just for McKee, but for all journalists in Northern Ireland, which remains the most dangerous region of the UK for members of the media to do their jobs.

Fiona O'Brien
RSF UK Bureau Director

The trial of those accused of McKee’s murder and related offences is currently scheduled to begin in Belfast on 29 April, but its start has been postponed several times.  

Northern Ireland is the most difficult region of the United Kingdom for journalists to operate, with those who report on organised crime and paramilitary activities often facing intimidation. 

In early April, petrol bombs were thrown towards journalists covering a parade in the same Creggan area in which McKee was killed, and a news crew was chased by men in balaclavas. 

Slow progress

In the past two years, police in Northern Ireland have put some positive measures in place to better support journalists, but much work remains to be done to ensure they can work safely and without fear, and that those responsible for attempting to intimidate the press are held accountable. 

RSF has called for a full investigation into the 2001 murder in County Armagh of Sunday World journalist Martin O’Hagan, after evidence emerged in 2022 that police failed to act on crucial information prior to his murder. And in another case currently before the courts, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal is investigating claims police unlawfully surveilled journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey.

The UK is ranked 26th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index


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