Shots fired during Derry trouble – BBC News
Reaction: Journalist’s killing condemned by politicians Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption It is understood police were attacked after carrying out searches in Londonderry. Footage courtesy of Leona O’Neill
Prime Minister Theresa May said the killing was “shocking and senseless”.
Ms McKee was a journalist who “died doing her job with great courage”, added Mrs May.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) described Ms McKee as “one of the most promising journalists” in Northern Ireland.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said that a gunman fired shots towards police officers in Derry’s Creggan area at about 23:00 BST on Thursday.
Mobile phone footage taken by a bystander during the rioting appears to show a masked gunman crouching down on the street and opening fire with a handgun.
Ms McKee, who was standing near a police 4×4 vehicle, was wounded. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Lyra McKee’s murder was a horrendous act, says PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton
“She was taken away from the scene in a police Land Rover to Altnagelvin Hospital but unfortunately she has died,” said Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton.
The leaders of Northern Ireland’s six biggest political parties said they were “united in rejecting those responsible for this heinous crime”.
In a joint statement, they said: “Lyra’s murder was also an attack on all the people of this community, an attack on the peace and democratic processes.
“It was a pointless and futile act to destroy the progress made over the last 20 years, which has the overwhelming support of people everywhere.”
Detectives have started a murder inquiry and the PSNI’s Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin said “evil people” had been behind the killing. Image copyright PA Image caption Police were searching for weapons and ammunition in Derry when the violence started
Ms McKee’s death has caused a “wave of shock and sympathy” and was “met with global condemnation, horror and revulsion”, he added.
“The gunman and those who share his warped ideology should hang their heads in shame today – they represent no-one.”
Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar said Ms McKee “changed lives” as a journalist and an activist and would continue to do so.
Irish people stood in “solidarity with the people of Derry” after the murder,” he said.
“We stand with you as strong as your walls and for as long as they stand,” he added.
“This was an attack not just on one citizen – it was an attack on all of us, our nation and our freedoms.” Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Derry does not want dissident republican violence, says PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Stephen Martin
Ms McKee was a journalist of “courage, style and integrity” and a “woman of great commitment and passion”, according to the NUJ’s Séamus Dooley.
“I have no doubt that it was that commitment which led to her presence on the streets of the Creggan last night, observing a riot situation in the city,” he added.
Filmmaker Alison Millar, who was due to have dinner with Ms McKee on Friday night, said her friend had been “stolen from us”.
“Lyra was the most beautiful human being,” she said.
“She was compassionate, she was honest, she was funny… she had so many friends and was loved by so many people.” Image copyright PA Analysis by Julian O’Neill, BBC News NI home affairs correspondent
Dissident republican activity has been increasing of late, with police in Northern Ireland fearful of a spate of violent incidents marking the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.
An intelligence-led operation took them into Londonderry’s Creggan estate late on Thursday night in a hunt for weapons and ammunition.
They were concerned they could be used in the days ahead to attack officers.
The group blamed for killing Lyra McKee is known as the New IRA and was behind a bomb attack outside the city’s courthouse at the start of the year.
Read more: Dissidents had shown violent intentions
The violence on Thursday night broke out after police raids on houses in the Mulroy Park and Galliagh areas in Derry.
“Violent dissident republicans are planning attacks in this city and we were carrying out a search operation in Creggan,” said the PSNI’s Mr Hamilton.
Rioting began at Fanad Drive – more than 50 petrol bombs were thrown at police and two vehicles were hijacked and set on fire.
“I believe that this was orchestrated – orchestrated to a point that they just want to have violence and attack police,” said Mr Hamilton.
“Bringing a firearm out is a calculated and callous act.” Report
One reporter who was at the scene said a gunman “came round the corner and fired shots indiscriminately towards police vehicles”.
“There were a number of houses with families – they had all spilled out on the street to see what was happening,” added Leona O’Neill.
“There were young people, there were children on the street, there were teenagers milling about and a gunman just fired indiscriminately up the street.”
Sky Views: Electric Farage highlights Tory and Remainers’ Europe confusion | Politics News | Sky News
Democrats have a new ‘it’ boy – and he could be a nightmare for Trump
But this was a bit different, and some of the people were different: couples, families, younger voters too. Image: Farage has already overtaken UKIP in the Euro polls and ‘snapping at the heels’ of the Tories
An odd coalition of the curious and the angry, those who rightly or wrongly deeply feel that democracy has been subverted.
They all took a Brexit Party placard home.
I watched them each take one and leave enthused, clear what they are fighting for.
Initially I had thought that shorn of UKIP and its organisational spine, Farage might struggle.
Instead, I came to see it as his biggest advantage yet.
UKIP, to some, to many, always had unsavoury connotations.
This new party is a blanker slate – a potentially better vehicle for his ambition.
It explains why Farage barely mentioned immigration and didn’t talk about Europe as much as you’d think.
Instead, his message was one of political transformation. Of fulfilling the true potential of the 2016 revolt. Of draining the swamp; that the failure to implement the referendum proves why it was necessary in the first place.
His is now a simpler and broader message – that Britain has been humiliated, that Westminster is rotten, that the system is rigged, that parliament doesn’t represent you and it is only he who can do something about it and make us proud again.
For Nigel Farage – this Dulwich school boy, denizen of the political scene for decades – is doing something. If the cards fall right, the simplicity and power of his vision, his branding and operation could mean he ends up in a position with the Leave vote much to himself. Lewis Goodall, political correspondent
Under his opponents’ noses, he is seizing the change mantle, even from those with the word in their name.
As a result, in many Euro polls he has already overtaken his old party UKIP and is snapping at the heels of the Tories.
If the cards fall right, the simplicity and power of his vision, his branding and operation could mean he ends up in a position with the Leave vote much to himself.
And as I sat there, watching Farage play old tunes and new, I kept asking myself, where is the Remain equivalent of this?
For months it has been obvious that these EU elections would come – it is why Farage registered his new party months ago – yet there seems to have been little action from the other side.
Where are the rallies? Where is the cross party agreement on a joint remain ticket?
Where are the posters? The agreed messaging?
The corralling of the newly empowered pro-European demos in this country?
The targeting of EU citizens with a vote?
All seems sleepy and quiet. It is almost as if these elections have taken them by surprise.
I suspect that is because the People’s Vote campaign has absorbed the creative and political energies of the Remain cause. Image: The guests at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party event in Birmingham were a mixed crowd
That enterprise has not been without profit; it has gone from pipe dream to realistic prospect in little to no time at all.
But its success, whilst impressive, has come at a cost.
Remainers, so obsessed with the project to legitimise the idea of another referendum, have ignored a landmine which could scuttle all their hopes.
Consider for a moment if Nigel Farage’s Brexit party wins the European elections.
It will matter not if it’s by half a hair, on half an eyebrow; it will not matter if Remain parties outnumber him in the total vote.
Should he take a party which existed not a few months ago called “the Brexit party” to victory in a national election – a feat Farage will have achieved twice – then the prospect of another plebiscite will be zero.
It will terrify any Tories thinking of committing and potentially scare Labour into finally making a deal.
All the momentum the People’s Vote campaign has generated will be neutralised. If he comes second to Labour, it could have much the same effect.
Remainers point me to the march, to the petition, but the truth is, marches don’t change anything and nor do names on a page – it is elections which have consequences.
Farage understands this only too well.
When I asked him why he thinks he will be successful and his opponents will fail, he replied, with a smile: “Because I know how to butter my own bread. I’ve done this before.”
And while Farage marches, the Remainers’ great hope – the Tiggers or Change UK – might lead their cause to burn.
They have ambitions beyond what they can possibly be expected to achieve.
For if they are anything, if there is any purpose, they should be the Remain party – and that is what they should have been called.
It would have been clear and it could have persuaded those who usually vote for another party to lend them their votes this time.
That they weren’t speaks to the loftiness of their objectives; they see themselves not solely through the prism of Brexit but with a vaguer desire to change politics more broadly.
It is why they also – despite I’m told, entreaties from Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats – have refused to stand on a joint Remain ticket with other parties.
Their sole aim is not just opposing Brexit but to establish themselves as an electoral force for the future.
But they need to get real; they are not going to displace the Labour Party nor the Conservatives. Image: The Independent Group could earn their place in the history books by reversing Brexit
The Social Democratic Party couldn’t manage it 40 years ago with bigger names, more money and more auspicious circumstances.
For would not reversing the most popular referendum result of our history, stopping something which looked unstoppable, not be remarkable achievement enough?
It would guarantee its progenitors a place in the history books and the hearts of millions – the contempt of the same number too.
And if somehow they managed it, their continued success might then come.
But the fact this is not their only aim, right now, is robbing the Remain cause of the clarity they need and the simple group around which to cohere.
Had their only objective been to win these elections from the start, knowing that they could then use the legitimacy they confer as a new mandate for Remain, they might be racing up the polls now.
Instead, they can’t even get their logo approved, so uncertain of their identity do they seem to be. Image: ‘Marches don’t change anything and nor do names on a page’, says Lewis Goodall
But Remainer delusion isn’t confined to the Tiggers, nor to the European elections, but extends to parliamentary Brexit process too.
Remainer Labour MPs, mulling their options over this Easter break, seem similarly afflicted by a nasty case of Brexit myopia.
I’ve lost count of the numbers of times Labour MPs have spoken of not conceding or giving their votes to the government until they receive assurances a future Tory leader will not renege on May’s undertakings on labour laws, on the environment and the rest.
That those areas of policy, which for so long have been set in stone in Europe, cannot be changed in the future.
Yet they seem not to reckon with a very simple fact: that is the very meaning of Brexit.
To apply Brexit is to take back control of swathes of policy currently reserved to Brussels; it would be odd, if having done that, they were left in perpetuity exactly the same.
Theresa May can give all the solemn undertakings she likes; she can even put things into law.
But she is powerless to prevent a future Tory leader with a future majority Conservative government – which will in the end come – from changing anything she devises with Labour today. Image: The Independent Group hope to establish themselves as a political force
The truth is, the one thing which binds a Tory government is the thing we are leaving: the European Union.
It is why the unions and the Labour Party itself came to love the project – why they sang Frère Jacques to Jacques Delors.
Labour MPs must be clear that when they vote to leave the EU, any promises they’ve won are just that, promises – and they should stop wasting everyone’s time.
If they cannot bear to open up those areas of policy, they cannot bear to write a blank cheque.
Then a referendum to reverse the decision is the only possible outcome and it is what they must resile themselves to vote for.
A referendum which, to return us to our first theme, will never come if Mr Farage tops the European polls.
Remainer readers may dislike Mr Farage – they may dislike his style, his rhetoric, his approach – but he cannot be faulted for his appreciation of strategy.
If his opponents don’t up their game – and fast – he will beat them, just as he did before. Sky Views is a series of comment pieces by Sky News editors and correspondents, published every morning.
Snakes force Liberian President George Weah from office – BBC News
Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption President George Weah will return to his usual office on Monday Snakes have been found in Liberian President George Weah’s office, forcing him to work from his private residence, the BBC has learnt.
Press secretary Smith Toby told the BBC that on Wednesday two black snakes were found in the foreign affairs ministry building, his official place of work.
All staff have been told to stay away until 22 April.
“It’s just to make sure that crawling and creeping things get fumigated from the building,” Mr Toby said.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts the office of the president, so it did an internal memo asking the staff to stay home while they do the fumigation,” he said.
The office of the president has been based in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since a fire in 2006 gutted the nearby presidential mansion.
A FrontPage Africa news website video shows workers trying to attack the snakes when they appeared near the building’s reception.
“The snakes were never killed,” Mr Toby said. “There was a little hole somewhere [through which] they made their way back.”
The president who no-one dares to tackle George Weah’s Liberia scorecard one year on Learn more about Liberia Police and presidential security were seen guarding Mr Weah’s residence in the capital Monrovia. A fleet of vehicles including escorts jeeps were parked outside.
Mr Toby said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started to fumigate on Friday.
“That building’s been there for years now, and [because of] the drainage system, the possibility of having things like snakes crawling in that building was high,” he said.
The president is definitely returning to his office on Monday after the fumigation whether or not the snakes are found and killed, Mr Toby said.
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South Africa hit by deadly Easter church collapse – BBC News
Image copyright KZN EMS/ Arrive Alive Image caption Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant was planning to attend the Good Friday service at the church At least 13 people have died and many were injured when a wall collapsed in South Africa at the start of an Easter service at a Pentecostal church.
Emergency services said that 29 people were rushed to hospital after the collapse in the coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Local officials have blamed the tragedy on heavy rainfall in the area around eMpangeni on Thursday night.
Most of the victims were reportedly women sleeping in the church.
An 11-year-old girl is thought to be among them.
The wall at the front of the Pentecostal Holiness Church collapsed at the start of what had been planned as a weekend-long service to commemorate the Christian festival of Easter.
On Friday, a special prayer service was held in a large tent in front of the church, reports the eNCA TV station.
Skip Twitter post by @SiphamandlaGoge #Churchcollapse Prayer service underway at Pentecostal Holiness Church in eMpangeni, KZN. Thirteen people died when a section of the wall collapsed. #eNCA pic.twitter.com/x7cz9CQmj6
— Siphamandla Goge (@SiphamandlaGoge) April 19, 2019 Report End of Twitter post by @SiphamandlaGoge
The Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the mayor of Zululand municipality, said the community was devastated and they would be praying for those affected by the tragedy.
“Christians [from] all denominations – we are here in solidarity. We are here to pray with the church, to pray with the families and to offer our support that God may really heal their wounds.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the church last year and some of the congregants reportedly asked for his support to build a new church.
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is a member of the church and was planning to attend the Good Friday service there.
She visited the scene and said: “Even at this difficult time, we still need to trust in God.”
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“It is an act of nature. It is an act of God. Not even a president could have been able to save this particular situation,” he said.
“It was a heavy storm that affected this area.”
Mueller report: Things we only just learned – BBC News
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The Mueller report – in 60 seconds Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation paints a decidedly mixed picture of President Donald Trump’s conduct, that provides ample fodder for either side of the political divide.
The 448-page report on alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election confirmed what Mr Trump has insisted on from the outset: there was no collusion.
The inquiry also built an extensive obstruction-of-justice case against the Republican president, though it stopped short of concluding he committed a crime.
While there was no immediate “smoking gun” to trigger impeachment proceedings, Democrats said the report had plenty of ammunition to keep up congressional scrutiny of Mr Trump.
‘This is the end of my presidency’ The report details the president’s expletive-filled horror as he learned that a special counsel was being appointed in May 2017.
According to the Mueller report, when then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the president about the coming inquiry, he replied: “Oh my god. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency.” He added two expletives to describe his situation.
Mr Trump added: “Everyone tells me if you get one of these independent counsels, it ruins your presidency. It takes years and years and I won’t be able to do anything. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Analysis and reaction to Mueller report Trump ‘tried to get Mueller fired’ ‘Mueller has to go’ The Mueller report details how in June 2017, the president called White House counsel Donald McGahn at home from Camp David and ordered him to have the special counsel removed.
On a second call, Mr McGahn said the president stepped up the pressure, saying: “Call Rod [Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein], tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the Special Counsel”, and “Mueller has to go” and “Call me back when you do it.”
Mr McGahn was so upset by the interference that he threatened to quit rather than participate in what he predicted would be a Nixon-style “Saturday Night Massacre”.
After media reports in January 2018 revealed Mr Trump’s attempts to have Mr Mueller removed, one of the president’s lawyers made contact with Mr McGahn, asking him to publicly deny the reports. But McGahn, through his attorney, refused.
No collusion The report found there were a number of contacts between members of Trump’s circle and Russia, and the campaign “expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts”.
The Trump team also “showed interest” in the Wikileaks release of hacked emails and “welcomed their potential to damage” Hillary Clinton. Unpatriotic and immoral, Democrats say. But the Mueller team makes clear it did not amount to a criminal conspiracy.
“The Russian contacts consisted of business connections, offers of assistance to the campaign, invitations for candidate Trump and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to meet in person, invitations for campaign officials and representatives of the Russian government to meet, and policy positions seeking improved US-Russian relations.
“While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.
“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or co-ordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
But no vindication on obstruction On potential obstruction of justice, the Mueller report is far from the “total exoneration” claimed by Mr Trump during a victory lap last month.
The report ultimately concludes: “Unlike cases in which a subject engages in obstruction of justice to cover up a crime, the evidence we obtained did not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference.”
But it also pointedly notes:
“If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment. The evidence we obtained about the Preside nt’s a ctions and intent presents difficult issues that prevent us from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.”
While the report acknowledges a sitting president cannot be indicted, it also mentions Congress’ ability to investigate and potentially impeach him.
It says: “Congress may apply the obstruction laws to the President’s corrupt exercise of the powers of office accords with our constitutional system of checks and balances and the principle that no person is above the law.”
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption Why no charge of obstruction of justice? A law professor breaks down the legal questions. How else Trump tried to influence inquiry The report cites 10 instances that were investigated as potential obstruction by Mr Trump.
Most have already been well documented, such as Mr Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.
But the findings also validate past US media reports that were denied at the time by the White House.
When Mr Trump learned the media was asking questions about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between senior campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr, and a Russian lawyer who was said to be promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, the president crafted a misleading response, says the report:
“Before the emails became public, the President edited a press statement for Trump Jr by deleting a line that acknowledged that the meeting was with ‘an individual who [Trump Jr] was told might have information helpful to the campaign’ and instead said only that the meeting was about adoptions of Russian children.”
Mr Trump also asked former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to get Attorney General Jeff Sessions to announce publicly that the investigation was “very unfair” and Mr Trump had done nothing wrong, says the report.
After Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, leaving an enraged Mr Trump feeling that he was losing control of the inquiry, the president pressed his attorney general that if he would only “unrecuse” himself he would be the “hero”.
The Trump-Russia saga in 350 words Eight legal headaches for Donald Trump Refusal to ‘carry out orders’ The Mueller report found that potential obstruction of justice by the president only failed because members of his administration refused to “carry out orders”, including former FBI Director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowksi.
In one unflattering passage, the document says:
“The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests. Comey did not end the investigation of Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn’s prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the Special Counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President’s order. Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the Presiden t ‘s message to Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President’s direction to have the Special Counsel removed, despite the President’s multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President’s aides and associates beyond those already filed.”
‘Inadequate written answers’ Close followers of the Mueller saga may recall that in January 2018 at the White House, President Trump told reporters that he was “looking forward” to sitting down for an interview with Mr Mueller, that he would “love to do that as soon as possible”, and boasted he would do so under oath.
But in the event, the report notes, “after more than a year of discussion, the President declined to be interviewed”.
He agreed to submit written answers to the special counsel’s questions to Russia-related matters, but declined to “provide written answers to questions on obstruction topics or questions on events during his transition”, the report notes.
The Mueller report states: “Recognizing that the President would not be interviewed voluntarily, we considered whether to subpoena for his testimony. We viewed his written answers to be inadequate.”
But the Mueller team said they ultimately decided not to subpoena Mr Trump because of the likelihood of litigation would cause a substantial delay at a late stage in the inquiry.
Why Sessions, Trump Jr and Kushner weren’t prosecuted The Mueller team did not indict then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for perjury to Congress when he wrongly testified that he had no contact with Russians during the campaign because of the inexact wording of the questions, according to the report.
“The evidence is not sufficient to prove that Sessions gave knowingly false answers to Russia-related questions in light of the wording and context of those questions,” the report says.
It also makes clear Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner and other campaign staff were on legally thin ice with their June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer.
The Mueller team says they declined to prosecute the president’s eldest son and son-in-law for campaign finance violations because they couldn’t prove they had “wilfully” violated the law.