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Leader of party ‘linked to New IRA’ warns more violence is ‘inevitable’ | UK News



The leader of a party widely regarded as the New IRA’s political wing has told Sky News that a continuation of violence is “inevitable”.

In his first television interview since the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, Brian Kenna described her death as “regrettable” but denied any knowledge of the gunman.

Lyra McKee
Lyra McKee, 29, was shot dead in April

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) – which describes Mr Kenna’s party and the New IRA as “inextricably linked” – insists violence is neither inevitable nor excusable.

Mr Kenna, a convicted IRA member who was jailed for 10 years for his part in an armed robbery, now leads a party called Saoradh – the Irish word for liberation.

He denies any overlap in the leadership of his party and the New IRA but refuses to condemn violence, including the murder of Ms McKee.

The 29-year-old journalist was shot dead while covering a riot in Londonderry in April.

Mr Kenna told Sky News: “The death of Lyra McKee was a very tragic event. It genuinely came about because of the heavy presence of the PSNI, flooding into Derry at seven o’clock in the evening, into parts of the Creggan.”

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“It was shocking and tragic and we’re on record as saying that we regret that death very, very much,” he added.

Asked if he knew the gunman, who remains at large, Mr Kenna replied: “No, I’ve no idea of the events of that night.”

hijacked vehicles one fire in Creggan, Londonderry. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 18, 2019. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Brian Kenna denies any knowledge of the gunman who murdered Lyra McKee

He refused to call for a ceasefire, claiming “young Irish people have always taken up arms” and “that is going to continue”.

“I believe that it’s inevitable,” Mr Kenna said.

“It will always happen so long as the country is artificially divided and held by force of arms, people will always strike out against that occupation,” he added.

Stephen Martin, deputy chief constable of PSNI, said he had no doubt about the link between Saoradh and the New IRA.

He told Sky News: “There are people who are members of Saoradh who are members of the New IRA and some of them are in leadership positions in the New IRA.”

Deputy chief constable Stephen Martin said he has no doubt about the link between Saoradh and the New IRA
Stephen Martin said he has no doubt about the link between Saoradh and the New IRA

“So there is that inextricable link between the two organisations,” he added.

This year alone, the New IRA has detonated a bomb in a car outside Londonderry Courthouse, shot dead Ms McKee and attempted to kill police officers in booby-trap bomb attacks.

Londonderry car explosion caught on CCTV

Mr Martin said: “We have seen an increase in their activity this year. Last year, there was one quite spontaneous attempt to kill police officers and this year, we’ve seen six incidents.

“Four of those incidents were very determined attempts to kill police officers… but violence isn’t inevitable, nor is it excusable.”

In his interview with Sky News, Mr Kenna said that “if young people in the six counties have been more politicised and in some sense radicalised by events of recent times, then what’s wrong with that?”

But Mr Martin said anyone using violence now was doing so against the expressed wishes of the majority who voted for peace.

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