The tragic death of the journalist and author Lyra McKee during overnight clashes in the city of Derry is a shocking reminder that political violence seems to be an almost inescapable outcome of partition and the United Kingdom’s continued territorial presence in the north-east of Ireland, no matter how great the strides we have made with peace and reconciliation on this island nation. The twenty-nine year old novelist was standing near an armoured jeep of the PSNI, the UK’s paramilitary police force in the Six Counties, when several shots were fired in its direction, inflicting a fatal head wound on the reporter in a reckless and ill-conceived attack currently being blamed on the New IRA.
The incident was the bloody culmination of a night of unrest in the Creggan district of the city following police raids on two houses in the area, leading to sustained street protests. As a result, a talented young woman who was giving so much to her country has had her life cruelly snatched away from her while a no doubt young man must live with the dreadful knowledge today that he was the perpetrator of that cruelty despite believing that he too was working towards the ultimate betterment of his country.
As I have stated on numerous occasions, resisting Britain’s colonial legacy in Ireland can take many forms, from the political to the cultural. But military or paramilitary resistance should be, must be, an act of last resort, and in these present times the vast majority of the Irish people can see no justification or reason for it (especially as we seek to unite not just our island but its diverse peoples too). I would remind those of the “Dissident Republican” community, the activists and supporters of various organisations and parties who read this website, of one sobering fact. Since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and the turn of the 21st century up to one hundred men, women and children have been killed by Irish insurgent forces, including the Real IRA, New IRA, Continuity IRA, Óglaigh na Éireann, RAAD, and various factions, splinters or associates thereof in both politically-motivated and criminally-motivated violence across the Thirty-Two Counties. Not one Irish-born person has been killed by the British Forces in Ireland in that same period through politically-related violence. Which makes one question who the real oppressors are at this moment in our national history.