Lyra McKee murder: Paul McIntyre supporters clash with police

clashes outside derry court
Image caption There were clashes between supporters of Mr McIntyre and police officers

Scuffles broke out outside a courthouse in Londonderry as a man appeared inside charged with the murder of the journalist Lyra McKee.

Paul McIntyre, 52, from Derry has been charged with murder, possession of a firearm and membership of a proscribed organisation, the IRA.

Ms McKee, who was 29, was observing rioting in Derry's Creggan estate when she was shot on 18 April 2019.

Protesters scuffled with police as Mr McIntyre was taken into court.

Supporters held a number of placards claiming he was a "political hostage" and a "British scapegoat".

They scuffled with up to 40 police officers as they refused to move from the court's entrance, cheering loudly as Mr McIntyre was driven into the court buildings.

'Speak out for Lyra'

Inside the Bishop Street building on Thursday, the court heard that evidence in the case included footage from music television channel MTV, as an MTV crew had been in the city filming that day, as well as mobile footage from members of the public.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Paul McIntyre raised his arms as he was brought into Londonderry Magistrates' Court

Mr McIntryre's defence solicitor, Derwin Harvey, said his client faced allegations that he was seen "picking up casings" that had come from a gun after it was fired by another male who Mr McIntyre was standing behind.

He added that there was "scant" evidence against his client, adding that the case rested on a "snapshot" of low-quality mobile phone footage.

From the court: Chris Page, BBC Ireland correspondent

The courtroom was full throughout the 50-minute hearing.

Friends and relatives of Lyra McKee - including her partner Sara Canning - sat in the public gallery, about 15ft away from the accused in the dock.

Some wore white t-shirts with the message "Speak Out For Lyra" printed above a picture of the journalist.

Paul McIntyre, who wore a grey sweater, looked straight ahead at the judge and lawyers during most of the proceedings.

He spoke only to confirm his name and address.

District Judge Barney McElholm said: "A woman with her entire life ahead of her, a very promising life, was murdered needlessly and pointlessly, like all the other murders in this country.

"It is very important that the murderers of Lyra McKee are brought to justice if this can be done, but we need to get the right people."

The judge said that protesters' behaviour, blocking the court's entrance and "threatening journalists", was doing Mr McIntyre "no favours whatsoever".

An application for bail was adjourned and Mr McIntyre, from Kinnego Park, was remanded in custody until 27 February.

Who was Lyra McKee?

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Lyra McKee was named Sky News young journalist of the year in 2006

The 29-year-old writer and campaigner from Belfast had only recently moved to Derry when she was killed.

She was standing near a police 4x4 vehicle on the night of 18 April 2019 when a masked gunman fired towards officers and onlookers.

Regarded by many as a rising star in Northern Ireland media circles, she had written for many publications, including Buzzfeed, Private Eye, the Atlantic and Mosaic Science.

She was named Sky News young journalist of the year in 2006 and Forbes Magazine named her as one of their 30 under 30 in media in Europe in 2016.

The Belfast woman had signed a two-book deal with the publisher Faber and Faber, with her forthcoming book The Lost Boys due out this year.

According to those who knew her best, the gay rights advocate was someone who "believed passionately in social and religious tolerance".

Her death caused widespread revulsion in Northern Ireland.

At her funeral at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast Fr Martin Magill received a standing ovation when he asked why it took her death to unite politicians.

Days later the British and Irish governments announced a new talks process aimed at restoring devolution.