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2 men charged with murder of Lyra McKee, a well-known Northern Irish journalist

Journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland
Journalist shot dead in Northern Ireland 00:42

Two men appeared in court Friday in connection with the murder of Lyra McKee, a well-known Northern Irish journalist shot dead as she covered rioting in Londonderry in 2019.

Gearoid Cavanagh, 33, and Jordan Devine, 21, were charged with murder, possession of a firearm and ammunition, possession of petrol bombs, throwing petrol bombs, arson and riot

McKee, 29, was observing anti-police rioting in the city, also known as Derry, when she was hit by gunfire in April 2019. The New IRA, a small paramilitary group that opposes Northern Ireland's peace process, said its members shot McKee by accident while firing at police.

Journalist McKee smiles outside the Sunflower Pub in Belfast
Journalist Lyra McKee smiles outside the Sunflower Pub on Union Street during a portrait session in Belfast, Northern Ireland May 19, 2017. Jess Lowe Photography

Prosecutors said the two defendants are alleged to have been with the gunman who fired the fatal shot. A judge released the two men on bail until their next hearing on October 7.

A detective told the court that Cavanagh "escorted" the gunman on the night of the killing, the BBC reported. He said Cavanagh had been identified from images of the incident, and was also linked to the scene through a burned zip fastener, which was found nearby.

McKee was an increasingly influential journalist who had written powerfully about growing up gay in Northern Ireland. Her work often focused on the conflict in Northern Ireland, known as "The Troubles," which saw decades of violence between those who wanted Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, known as "unionists," and those who wanted it leave and join a united Republic of Ireland, known as "republicans." The conflict officially ended with a peace accord, the Good Friday Agreement, in 1998.

Hundreds of people attended McKee's funeral, including the prime ministers of Britain and Ireland and political leaders from Northern Ireland's Protestant and Catholic communities. Her death helped spur a successful effort to get feuding politicians to revive Northern Ireland's power-sharing government, which had collapsed in 2017.

Northern Ireland Journalist Killed
Sara Canning, partner of Lyra McKee, walks behind her coffin as it is carried out of St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, northern Ireland, Wednesday April 24, 2019.  Liam McBurney / AP

Haley Ott contributed to this report.

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