THE PARTNER of slain journalist Lyra McKee, Sara Canning, has condemned the claims of one Irish Republican leader attempting to justify her murder and any future violence on the island of Ireland.
Brian Kenna is the leader of Saoradh, a group endorsed by anti-peace process renegades and allegedly linked to the New IRA.
Police believe New IRA dissident republicans were responsible for shooting of the 29-year-old who was killed while observing violent scenes in Derry back in April.
The incident had been sparked by a police search of a house in the city’s Creggan estate, ahead of the anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Speaking in an interview with Sky News, Kenna described Lyra’s murder as “regrettable” but refused to condemn it, adding that further violence on the island of Ireland is “inevitable”.
“The death of Lyra McKee was a very tragic event,” he said.
“It genuinely came about because of the heavy presence of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, flooding into Derry at seven o’clock in the evening, into parts of the Creggan.”
“It was shocking and tragic and we’re on record as saying that we regret that death very, very much.”
Responding to Kenna’s comments in her own interview with Sky, Canning branded his remarks “absolutely appalling”.
“The police being in Creggan didn’t murder Lyra, the New IRA idiots did,” she said.
"Lyra's murder wasn't regrettable...it was despicable and the fact of the matter is, no one should have been shot that night, no one's life should have been lost, no one is a legitimate target anymore.
"We are living in a different time and to try to justify it by saying the police presence was responsible for Lyra's death, the police were there to do a job and these people brought a gun onto the streets," she added.
“They proved the police’s reason for being there by bringing a gun onto the streets and putting lives in danger, and ultimately murdering the love of my life.
“Had no gun come out they could have claimed unfair oppression, instead they totally justified the police presence.”
“It was not an accident, it wasn’t just regrettable, it was despicable.
“The blatant disregard for the people of the town and beyond is staggering. “
“No lives should have been lost that night. There is no justification for murder.”
Kenna has always denied any overlap between the New IRA and leadership of Saoradh.