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Man, 52, charged with murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland

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FILE PHOTO: Residents walk past a newly painted mural featuring murdered journalist Lyra McKee in central Belfast on May 7, 2019.
FILE PHOTO: Residents walk past a newly painted mural featuring murdered journalist Lyra McKee in central Belfast on May 7, 2019.   -   Copyright  PAUL FAITH / AFP
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A 52-year-old man has been charged over the murder of journalist Lyra McKee who was shot during riots in Northern Ireland last year.

It came after four suspects, aged 20, 27, 29 and 52, were arrested in Derry/Londonderry on Monday.

McKee, who was 29, was observing rioting in the city's Creggan estate when she was shot on 18 April 2019. A masked gunman opened fire on police and onlookers standing close by.

The suspect is also charged with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation. He is due to appear before magistrates on Thursday.

Detective Superintendent Jason Murphy of the Police Service Northern Ireland said: "I have always said a number of individuals were involved with the gunman on the night Lyra was killed, and while today is significant for the investigation, the quest for the evidence to bring the gunman to justice remains active and ongoing."

The murder of McKee sparked outrage in Northern Ireland, where a 1998 peace agreement ended three decades of sectarian conflict.

The rioting happened after police entered the estate to look for weapons ahead of Easter weekend, which traditionally sees commemorations from republicans of the 1916 “Easter Rising” rebellion against British rule.

Several republican groups — including the New IRA — have opposed Northern Ireland’s peace process.

Call for witnesses

Police renewed its call for witnesses following the arrests.

"I have always believed that some people within the community know what happened and who was involved," said Senior Investigative Officer Jason Murphy.

"I understand that people may be frightened to talk to us. I have previously given my personal assurance relating to anonymity for the purpose of this investigation and I renew this assurance today, as we approach the anniversary of Lyra's murder."