Lyra McKee

The late Lyra McKee.
The group responsible for the murder of Lyra McKee in Derry on Thursday has apologised to her family and friends.

In a statement that was issued to The Irish News in Belfast the group said: "In the course of attacking the enemy Lyra McKee was tragically killed while standing beside enemy forces.

"The IRA offer our full and sincere apologies to the partner, family and friends of Lyra McKee for her death."

The organisation however, claimed that the gunman who shot Miss McKee had been deployed only after an "incursion on the Creggan by heavily armed British Crown Forces which provoked rioting."

It continued: "We have instructed out volunteers to take the utmost care in future when engaging the enemy and put in place measures to help ensure this."

The apology comes after the hard-line republican party, Saoradh, used Easter addresses to call on the 'IRA' to apologise for killing Lyra McKee.

Brian Kenna, Saoradh's national chairman, told an Easter Monday Commemoration in Milltown Cemetery in Belfast, that the "death of Lyra McKee was a difficult time for her family and all republicans." Mr. Kenna said the 'IRA needs to take responsibility and apologise.'

Dee Fennell, a North Belfast-based member of the party's national executive, meanwhile, told the party's commemoration in Dublin on Saturday that 'the IRA can make mistakes and the IRA cannot shy away from those mistakes when they occur.'

Mr. Fennell said: "Lyra McKee's family, friends and partner are suffering an indescribable loss. They have lost someone special who they have lost in the most cruel and tragic of circumstances. It is a loss that many of you here will have experienced yourselves.

"While no words can alleviate that sense of loss I believe that as republicans we should acknowledge when there is hurt and loss of life to civilians.

"If an IRA volunteer fired shots and accidentally killed Lyra McKee then the IRA should publicly admit responsibility for this and apologise. They should apologise for no other reason than it is the right thing to do."

Last week Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI and former Derry commander, Stephen Martin, heaped scorn on claims that the PSNI were in anyway responsible for the disturbances in Creggan on Thursday night.

"The police were in that estate last night carrying out lawful activity, trying to prevent future imminent violence and the sole and total responsibility for Lyra McKee's death lies with the organisation that sent someone out....with a gun into a built up urban environment that was densely populated at the time and got that person to pull a trigger in the direction of police lines and fatally wounded Lyra," he said.

"The sole responsibility lies with that grouping and the people who are members of that grouping and obviously particularly the number of people involved in that particular attack," added the Deputy Chief Constable.