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Man charged with murder of Northern Ireland journalist Lyra McKee

Police in Northern Ireland said on Wednesday they had charged a 52-year-old man with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry last year, a killing that sparked outrage in the British-run province.

New IRA had claimed following her death in April 2019 that shooting was an accident

A mural depicting slain journalist Lyra McKee is seen in Belfast on Sept. 6, 2019. Politicians from across the United Kingdom and Ireland attended a funeral for McKee after her shocking death. (John Sibley/Reuters)

Police in Northern Ireland have charged a 52-year-old man with murdering Lyra McKee, a journalist shot dead during a riot involving Irish Republican Army dissidents last year.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said Wednesday that the man, who has not been named, was charged with murder, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and "professing to be a member of a proscribed organization."

McKee, 29, was observing anti-police rioting in Londonderry in April 2019 when she was killed. The New IRA, a paramilitary group that opposes Northern Ireland's peace process, said its members shot McKee by accident while firing at police in the city, also known as Derry.

The killing of McKee caused widespread shock in a region still scarred by decades of violence known as the Troubles, in which more than 3,500 people died.

McKee was a rising star of journalism, who had written powerfully about growing up gay in Northern Ireland and the struggles of the generation of "ceasefire babies" raised after the 1998 Good Friday peace accord that ended three decades of sectarian violence.

Matt Hughes says Lyra McKee was compassionate reporter and an even better friend. 7:00

The suspect is due to appear in court Thursday.

Police Det.-Supt. Jason Murphy said the charge would not end the investigation into McKee's death.

"I have always said that 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," he said.

The IRA and most other paramilitary groups have disarmed, but a small number of dissidents refused to abandon violence, and have targeted police and prison officials in bombings and shootings.

Hundreds of people attended McKee's funeral, including the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland and political leaders from Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic communities. Her death helped spur a successful effort to get feuding politicians to talk again, after Northern Ireland's power-sharing government had collapsed in 2017. An agreement was reached last month.

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