"More than a wake-up call" - Mairead McGuinness on the killing of Lyra McKee
"The problems of Northern Ireland are greater than people perhaps in the House of Commons understand."
MEP Vice President of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness has spoken out in the wake of Lyra McKee's murder, calling on Sinn Féin and the DUP to take responsibility in order to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.
McKee, a well-respected freelance journalist, was shot dead while covering riots that broke out in Derry on Thursday night.
A murder investigation has been launched following her death, which occurred during an episode of orchestrated violence in the Fanad Drive area of Creggan.
"Like lots of people, I always reach for my phone first thing in the morning to see what's happened, and honest to god, it was absolutely shocking when I read that this wonderful young journalist - and we know more about her now because of her terrible murder - that she was literally shot doing her job," McGuinness began.
"It speaks to two things - first of all; that the problems of Northern Ireland are greater than people perhaps in the House of Commons understand, the tensions in communities, but secondly that many journalists get killed in the line of duty."
McGuinness went on to acknowledge McKee's "commitment to peace" while calling for political parties to share responsibility in what comes next.
"I hope to god that people who are a little bit indifferent about the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement will actually gather themselves together, and I would say that to Sinn Féin and the DUP," McGuinness stated.
"Everyone shares a responsibility here, because in the absence of any political body to get talks going, you're going to get groups that will do this type of thing, and the fact that there are guns in communities is quite shocking when we thought that guns were a thing of the past.
"So, it's more than a wake-up call, but the fact that a woman has to lose her life, a journalist, for us to all take stock, I'm just appalled by it and I cannot imagine how her family, her friends, her journalist colleagues and community must be feeling now."
McGuinness noted that the shock of Lyra McKee's death "will resonate in weeks and months to come" after the journalist went out to do her job and didn't return home.
"Nobody would've anticipated that that could happen in Ireland after the peace process, after our decades of relative peace; some instability.
"It definitely is a shock in this Easter weekend, and the sun is shining and the world looks good, but it's not.
"There's a lot of badness going on in Northern Ireland and indeed in many other countries," McGuinness said.
"The biggest fear I have, and it’s increasingly a global thing, that people will begin to battle with weapons again and we saw the worse effects of that last night at a riot in Derry."
McGuinness, the MEP for Midlands and the North-West, said it was imperative that there was a political response.
"I know that Simon Coveney, the Tanaiste, has really worked hard to try and help this process in Northern Ireland. I think the British Prime Minister has certainly said fine words about Northern Ireland and the peace process and her commitment to it.
"But I think we need more now. We need more action. We need a proper response to what happened in Derry. Because it will not go away unless there is a proper political response to it.
"I hope that out of this horrific, horrific murder that it will waken up politics again, because in the absence of politics you’ll get all sorts of people taking back control, using weapons to do that and that’s a very slippery slope," McGuinness concluded.
On Friday night, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) released CCTV footage of events that led up to Lyra McKee's shooting.
The video identifies McKee amongst a crowd of people shortly before and after 10pm on Thursday night, in addition to a masked figure in the vicinity.
Anyone with relevant information can contact the PSNI on 101 if calling from Northern Ireland or 0044 28 9065 0222 if calling from the Republic of Ireland.