Lyra McKee’s Death: More Questions than Answers? by Donal Lavery



Hitler once said of the current Queen’s mother, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, “That is the most dangerous woman in Europe!” The size and scale of her funeral proved his estimation correct. When most of the British aristocracy were cosying up to Nazism (including the King’s brother and wife – Edward and Wallis Simpson), Elizabeth (who had lost her brother Fergus in WW1) was in full battle mode to take on the Reich state like Robert De Bruce from whom she descended. And Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! She carried her husband and Britain through their darkest hour; after Buckingham Palace was bombed in the Blitz, she bombastically told of how she could now “look the East End of London in the eye.” Her portrait still hangs in many a home, like a latter day Joan of Arc, who rid her people of foreign domination. 

In most Catholic homes for many years, there were usually two photos – one of the Pope and the other of President Kennedy. Most people now know there was state involvement in the killing of Jack Kennedy (and Pope John Paul 1st, funnily enough). Many of the people in Dallas that day went missing off the face of the Earth. The official version is ceaselessly redundant. But the problem is that many folk seem to think Kennedy, ever the ‘sweet talker’, was killed because he was a total “dove” who was anti-war, when the Prince of Irish America was actually a bit more “hawkish” than we probably care to admit. His brother, Robert (more the actual “dove”), was set for a landslide victory when he was gunned down in California. One housewife at the time said of him “I won’t be voting for him. For if he becomes President ‘they’ will kill him!” Martyrs, historically, are people who defy the official narrative and authority in pursuit of a just cause. 

Lyra McKee genuinely was a dove, a gentle soul with a love of literature, the arts and social justice, by any measure. Her funeral brought people together in the way that only the death of a highly noted public figure could. However, one of the things the media appear to have largely overlooked is what precisely she was working on prior to her death – namely, investigative journalism into the disappearance of children and also the horrors involved by state agents in the Kincora Boy’s Home scandal. Relatedly, Brian McDermott’s murder has never been solved, like so many other killings in our troubled land. 

It struck me some time ago that both she and I were writing about the same subject; we corresponded on Facebook privately about “Kincora” and we were meant to meet for coffee sometime to share thoughts. Regrettably, we never got chatting face to face about it all. But I knew she was on to something both intriguing and involving the ‘intrigues.’

Concurrently, the investigation into the activities of the British agent “Stake-Knife” has taken its time, undoubtedly, with a whole mountain of bureaucracy and officialdom at play which will want to bury much of this man’s activities, and indeed, this man’s crimes. One murder long linked to this shadowy figure is that of the Unionist MP Rev Robert Bradford, who many in political circles believe was killed before he was set to break the scandal that was “Kincora” (the East Belfast Boy’s Home that was being used as a “honey pot” to blackmail establishment and Loyalist paramilitary perverts).  

This wasn’t the first time a Unionist politician was hindered from exposing crimes by the British state. Ian Paisley was once prevented by parliament from using member “privilege” to discuss the SAS assassination attempt on a UDR Captain, William Black, who highlighted irregularities against the public by British soldiers (disguised as civilians) to the authorities. Captain Black’s experience is detailed in the book “Ambush at Tullywest” by Kennedy Lindsey (another Unionist politician). We more or less know that British troops helped conduct the Dublin-Monaghan bombings (imposing an ‘explosive’ agenda on the Free State government to introduce draconian legislation curtailing civil liberties and granting the state rights it had all but lost at the expense of the citizen). 

I’m not alleging any overarching and explicit state conspiracy in Lyra’s death, for the truth is I really don’t know and it may just have been a ‘freak accident’, but it is hard to believe that MI5 and the RUC could so highly infiltrate the Provisional IRA and Loyalist command structures, yet state agencies now would have no informants whatsoever on the ground presently that could provide credible leads in quickly arresting those who murdered Lyra. I find that personally astonishing. I hope her family and wider society get justice. But I do have a feeling that in recruiting some of those involved in these dissident splinter groups, the state now finds itself (just like in the Captain Black and Kincora cases) quite incapable of controlling them in their entirety, and indeed, their crimes. 

If you want to know where I am going with all of this I’ll be plain. The Americans, in contrast to the U.K., are a model of openness – with their Freedom of Information culture. Thus the benefits of being able to hire and fire your Head of State. The rights of the citizen triumphing over the “privileges” of subjects. When suspected crimes by the state were first alluded to in one US precedent, Oliver North was brought before Congress under the “30 Minute Rule” and made to testify under oath regarding the uses and abuses of state actors.


Now, we have seen recently in the case of Trevor McBirney and Barry McCaffrey that elements of the state here still believe they have the right to silence and persecute journalists, so the only way to conclude categorically on the murder of Lyra McKee is for George Hamilton and the Director General of MI5 to be questioned under oath in a parliament on this island, by people you do elect and can remove, as to the investigation into her death so far and any potential involvement by people who are supposed to be under their influence (if not command). It’s simple: if you can’t hold people in authority to proper account, you don’t live in a democracy.

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