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Keir Starmer warns of Brexit tension as he pays tribute to Lyra McKee

Shadow Brexit secretary describes New Ira's apology as 'completely despicable'

26 April, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Lyra McKee

SIR Keir Starmer today (Friday) warned of the changing political temperature on the ground in Northern Ireland amid chaotic Brexit discussions, as he paid tribute to murdered journalist Lyra McKee.

Asked by the New Journal whether he could see a connection between the ongoing uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s divorce from Europe and the shooting in Derry on Saturday, he said: “Is there a link to Brexit? It’s difficult to say. But what I do know is that the Brexit debate, the Brexit discussion, in Ireland has gone into a discussion about the very future of Ireland.”

The Holborn and St Pancras MP, who is Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, added: “That’s why anybody who thinks that the only issue that matters in Northern Ireland  far as Brexit is concerned, is the technical question of how you get people and goods over a line in the road, doesn’t understand Northern Ireland.”

He added: “Actually it’s gone straight into the politics of Ireland, and the island of Ireland. That’s very real, and very deep and we should all be concerned about it. That’s why we, the Labour Party, will never, ever sign up to a deal which puts in doubt the Good Friday agreement.”

Sir Keir Starmer

Newsrooms across the country paused to ‘Stand For Lyra’ this week. The 29-year-old reporter had been covering rioting on the Creggan Estate when she was shot. The ‘New IRA’ group has admitted it was involved and released a statement apologising to the family.

Mr Starmer, the former director of public prosecutions before he went into politics, said the use of gunfire against the police was an escalation of past violence.

“I’m really concerned about the death of Lyra on so many levels,” he told the New Journal. “Firstly, a brilliant journalist killed for doing her job, and it’s a reminder. Every time I go to media, journalist awards, I’m reminded that lots of journalists put their life and limb on the line for what they are doing. The number of journalists killed around the world for what they are doing is phenomenal. It’s tragic on that level.”

He added: “I worked with the police service in Northern Ireland for five years and I’ve been with them when there has been disruption. When I was with them I saw them having bricks thrown at them, petrol bombs thrown at them. I did not see them come under live fire. And that is very serious. I think everybody is appalled by the excuse of an apology that was: ‘We were trying to fire at police and unfortunately got a journalist’. That’s despicable, completely despicable.”


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