On Thursday night we once again returned to the bad old days of “The Troubles” here in Northern Ireland. A brave and fearless 29 year old journalist was shot as she was covering the rioting in Londonderry and later died of her wounds in Altnagelvin Hospital. This shocking event has brought home to us here at home and around the world just how fragile the peace is. This morning the PSNI have announced the arrests of two young men...just 18 and 19 years old. What saddens me is the fact that almost 35 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, children who’s parents were only children in 1985 are still being drawn into the paramilitary cause of the “New IRA”. There can be no justification for them feeling the need to take guns onto the streets to shoot at the police, which is what their actual target was. Our police force is a non-sectarian force, it recruits from all sections of the community, and in fact carried out a reverse discrimination policy for a number of years after the Patten Report and the disbanding of the old RUC and the forming of the PSNI, specifically in order to redress the balance. These paramilitaries are a curse on all civilised and right-minded people, they prey on young people and peddle drugs as well as do punishment beatings and kneecapping to keep them in line in the nationalist areas they control. The police were doing raids in one of their strongholds, The Creggan, in Derry, looking for weapons and ammunition caches, this was ahead of a big Republican march to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916 which was due to take place on Monday.
Lyra McKee has paid the price, for being at the forefront of bringing us the news, she bravely put herself in the line of fire to do so. She was also tireless in her campaign for LGBT rights here in Northern Ireland, that is another battle yet to be fully won here. She leaves a grieving partner and family, and will be sadly missed by the wider public who valued her journalistic talent.