The British Establishment transformed itself into a lightning conductor to harness the visceral anger generated by the senseless killing of Lyra McKee in Derry on 18 April. It then redirected that energy as a debilitating shock into the heart of the New IRA. No less a figure than Britain’s PM Theresa May turned up for Lyra McKee’s funeral in Derry to highlight the disgust felt by the UK. Leo Varadkar performed the same task for the people of the Republic.
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill were given a dressing down from the pulpit for not getting together, before shuffling up next to each other on a pew at the funeral and a new lease of life was injected into the talks to reinstate powersharing at Stormont. The much derided Secretary of State for NI must have thought all her birthdays had come as one.
Lyra’s courageous friends took up her cause and were much admired on TV screens around the world as they daubed the walls of the political offices associated with the New IRA in Derry with blood red palm prints.
An anti-paramilitary slogan was sprayed across the famous Free Derry mural. ‘Not in our name. RIP Lyra’, it read.
While the New IRA reeled in shock, the PSNI and MI5 reaped a propaganda windfall they could never have dreamt of. All told, the riot on the night of 18 April not only failed to goad the Northern State into an overaction likely to alienate Nationalists in Derry as the New IRA hoped, it resulted in the latter organisation shooting itself in the foot.
The fact that Lyra McKee was a LGTB campaigner hoping to marry her partner was seized upon by the mainstream media, and raised her international profile to higher levels. The fact she came from a state where gay marriage is not permitted, generated more headlines.
No one anywhere had a single bad word to say about her.
Her friends have kept her LGBT flag flying. They recently appeared on Channel 4 News where they criticised the failures of the NI state to do anything to advance LGBT rights (aside from spend a miserable few hundred pounds).
On a professional level McKee was deservedly lauded on all sides for her journalistic instincts. She was described as an award-winning writer chosen as one of Forbes 30-under-30 most promising young journalists.
It couldn’t have looked better from an anti-paramilitary propaganda perspective for the Establishment until suddenly this week news of the content of her book began to leak out. While no one at Village has seen it yet, it looks very much like it is going to open a door on the clandestine links between the Robert Bradford MP murder and the Kincora child sex abuse scandal.
What an irony therefore that the British Establishment is going to have to tear Lyra McKee’s reputation apart or weather the fallout from her book. It is sure to become a bestseller. Will the Tory yeomanry who came out to defend Ted Heath after the Wiltshire police exposed him as a child abuser in 2018 now form up to villify Lyra as a gullible conspiracy theorist?
The Bradford murder may yet prove to be every bit as egregious as the infamous State sponsored murder of the solicitor Patrick Finucane in February 1989.
Why was Bradford really murdered? Lyra McKee’s book may be about to shine a light over British State involvement in the killing and add a gruesome new chapter to the Kincora scandal. Kincora is arguably the most atrocious British excess of the Troubles. It is a hydra-headed monster that incorporates a multitude of crimes including decades of child abuse, blackmail, proxy terrorism and the perversion of justice. In more recent times MI5 and MI6 have lied to the Hart Inquiry (which swallowed the lies whole).
Kincora is a scandal that will not go away. Will Lyra McKee’s forthcoming book raise uncomfortable questions of the State-sponsored assassination of a sitting Westminster MP by an MI5 agent inside the Provisional IRA?
We have only weeks left to find out precisely what Lyra McKee discovered, or more precisely what she unravelled about the lines of inquiry Bradford was probing. What was it he found out that led to his death?
All of the plaudits heaped on Lyra McKee may soon turn out to be an underestimation of her talent.