FRIENDS of murder victim Lyra McKee have protested outside the Derry headquarters of dissident republican group Saoradh by placing red handprints on the wall.
Ms McKee was killed during a night of rioting in the Creggan estate last Thursday. The 29-year-old journalist, from north Belfast, had moved to Derry to be with her partner Sara Canning.
Police have said that they believe dissident republican group the New IRA were behind her murder.
Saoradh are widely considered to be the political wing of the New IRA.
Friends of Ms McKee gathered outside their Derry headquarters at ‘Junior McDaid House’ on Monday afternoon.
They placed their hands in red paint before placing them on the walls of the Chamberlain Street premises, while Saoradh representatives looked on.
The act was intended as a protest against Ms McKee’s death and there were shouts of “murderers” and “get out of town” from the emotional crowd assembled.
PSNI officers were present throughout the protest.
Lyra’s friend Sinead Quinn, who took part on Monday’s protest, said: “We have used red paint because they have blood on their hands for what has happened.
“They have encouraged it, they have moulded these young people into what they are and they are standing behind them handing them guns.
“They need to take responsibility today for what has happened.
“They have shirked it so far by saying it was an accidental shooting. You don’t shoot accidentally.”
She added: “When you put a gun into someone’s hand and they shoot it, that’s murder.
“Lyra deserves more and I am so glad there are so many people here today to see and watch these men looking at us.
“They are not a representation of republican people in this town.
“Those people don’t represent (republicanism). Nobody can advocate shooting into a crowd of people and shooting a 29-year-old woman dead.
“People have been afraid to stand up to people like this, we are not afraid.”
Another friend said: “We have had enough. There is a younger generation coming up in the town and they don’t need guns put in their hands.
“They need jobs, they need a better health service and education.
“They need a life, not a gun put in their hands.”
The group of friends have pledged to do more in Lyra’s memory.
“Lyra’s McKee’s name will never be forgotten in this town,” Ms Quinn added.
“We have to do it for her.”
Local resident John Lindsay said: “We are using this as an opportunity to speak out against these people.
“The whole town has told them they are not wanted here.
“They have freedom to speak, they don’t have freedom for violence and they don’t have the right to carry out acts of violence.
“There is mood change here, even hardline republicans are speaking out against them and saying they need to desist.
“My message to them is go away and get off our backs and stop dragging children into the past into a life of misery.”
The murder of Ms McKee has been widely condemned around the world, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, former US President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Theresa May among those speaking out against it.
Two teenagers arrested in connection with the murder of Ms McKee have been released without charge.