Riots, “Terrorist Incident” in Northern Ireland

Petrol bombs are thrown at police in the Creggan area of Londonderry, in Northern Ireland. // Photo by Niall Carson/PA via AP, Newscred

Riots and the killing of a journalist shook the city of Londonderry, also known as Derry, in Northern Ireland Thursday evening. The police are treating the shooting as a terrorist incident. 

The New York Times reports that the violence broke out in the heavily Catholic neighborhood of Creggan after a series of police raids over concerns that militant republicans were storing firearms and explosives in preparation for an attack on the anniversary of the Easter Rising, a rebellion that took place in Dublin in 1916. The searches sparked a riot in which over 50 gasoline bombs were thrown, followed by the attack that killed the journalist. 

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident, and we have launched a murder inquiry,” Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton told the Times. Police have attributed the violence and killing to the militant group New Irish Republican Army, which is not affiliated with the Provisional Irish Republican Army, which has renounced violence. 

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The journalist who was killed, Lyra McKee, was named to the Forbes 30Under30” list of notable media figures in 2016, according to CBS News. She worked as an investigative reporter and editor for BuzzFeed and the Atlantic, with her work often focusing on the conflict in Northern Ireland. She was 29. 

The violence comes as the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the south has become a key sticking point in negotiations over the UK’s plan to leave the European Union (EU). Negotiations within the EU, as well as debates within the UK Parliament, have struggled to come to an agreement on how to reach a Brexit deal without imposing a “hard border” -- which would impose physical checks on border crossings -- between the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK. 

An analysis by the BBC notes that, while the text of the Good Friday Agreement does not include details regarding arrangements on the border, Irish ministers have said that a harder border would damage the spirit of the agreement. The Good Friday Agreement, which was signed in 1998, is a peace agreement between the Britsh and Irish governments, and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, regarding how Northern Ireland should be governed. The agreement followed a period of violence in Northern Ireland commonly called “The Troubles.”

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