SOCIAL MEDIA giants Facebook and Twitter have suspended the official accounts of dissident republican group Saoradh following the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry.
The unregistered far-left political party published a statement from its associate group the New IRA last week, in which it claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting of Ms McKee amid rioting in the Creggan estate last Thursday.
The 29-year-old had been reporting on social media about the unrest when she was killed by a masked gunman who opened fire on an armoured PSNI vehicle nearby.
Shortly after the murder, a statement blaming police appeared on Saoradh's website, reading: "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.
"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."
In a further statement earlier this week, the New IRA offered "full and sincere apologies" to the young journalist's family and friends, claiming: "We have instructed our volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy, and put in place measures to help ensure this."
Friends of Ms McKee protested outside the Saoradh's Derry offices on Monday, smearing red-painted handprints over dissident republican slogans on its walls.
The demonstration was widely praised on social media, where users have been sending pictures of red-stained hands to Saoradh's official Facebook and Twitter accounts in recent days.
The accounts have now been suspended amid mounting condemnation of the group's close ties to the New IRA ahead of Ms McKee's funeral on Wednesday.
Leading dissident republican Dee Fennell told Saoradh's Easter Commemoration that the group would not be "going away" despite calls to disband.
According to the Belfast Telegraph, he said: "We will continue to engage ourselves in activism in the course of this year and in future years, I just want to make that absolutely and abundantly clear."
Saoradh, which translates as "Liberation" in Irish, was formed by a number of dissident republicans in 2016 and is active in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The group's emblem combines the sunburst flag with the socialist red star, a pike, and the green, white and orange of Ireland's national colours.