Police clashed with protesters as a man was charged with the murder of Lyra McKee. (Emma Vardy/ Twitter)
Police and protesters clashed outside a Londonderry courthouse today while inside a man was charged with the murder of gay journalist Lyra McKee.
Paul McIntyre, 52, from Derry was charged with murder, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation, the IRA.
McKee, 29, was shot dead while reporting on riots in Londonderry, April 18, 2019, in the heavily Catholic Creggan neighbourhood.
Protesters gathered outside the court to support McIntyre, carrying placards saying that he was a he was a “political hostage” and a “British scapegoat”.
According to the BBC, as he was brought into the court the protesters cheered for him and refused to move from the entrance, causing a clash with around 40 police officers.
— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) February 13, 2020
To the so called men who stood outside the court and cheered at the man who murdered Lyra Mckee you should be disgusted at yourselves. #LyraMcKee
— Roisinn (@rc_roisinn) February 13, 2020
During the 50-minute hearing, McKee’s family, friends and partner Sara Canning sat in the public gallery. Some of them wore t-shirts which read “Speak Out For Lyra”.
According to BBC Ireland correspondent Chris Page, district judge Barney McElholm said: “A woman with her entire life ahead of her, a very promising life, was murdered needlessly and pointlessly, like all the other murders in this country.
“It is very important that the murderers of Lyra McKee are brought to justice if this can be done, but we need to get the right people.”
McElholm added that the protesters outside had also been “threatening journalists”, and that they were doing McIntyre “no favours whatsoever”.
The lawyer defending McIntyre, Derwin Harvey, said it had been alleged that the 52-year-old was seen “picking up casings” from a gun fired by a man he had been standing behind.
Harvey insisted that there was “scant” evidence against McIntyre, and that the case was based on a “snapshot” of mobile phone footage.
An application for bail was adjourned, and McIntyre will be remanded in custody until February 27.
Lyra McKee never saw same-sex marriage legalised in Northern Ireland
McKee was just 29-years-old when she was shot dead last year and had recently signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber.
She had been planning to propose to her partner Sara Canning on an upcoming trip to New York, but violence in Derry cut their time together short.
Since her death, same-sex marriage has been legalised in Northern Ireland – but McKee never got to see it happen.