'So unfair' | 

Lyra McKee’s family delivered blow after murder accused granted bail to go on holiday

Gearóid Peter Cavanagh enjoyed a sunshine break in Co Donegal

Lyra

29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee

Nichola McKee, sister of Lyra

Paula MackinSunday World

Lyra McKee’s family were delivered another devastating blow when they were informed a man charged with her murder was granted bail to go on holiday, the slain journalist’s sister said.

As Gearóid Peter Cavanagh enjoyed a sunshine break in Co Donegal, Lyra’s loved ones continued to mourn her death knowing she will never share another holiday with the people who adored her the most.

Lyra’s sister Nichola McKee-Corner says the decision to let Cavanagh vary his bail is proof that suspects are treated better than victims.

“I know that everyone is innocent until they are proven guilty. I know that but it was a blow to us because we know Lyra will never have another holiday again. It’s just so unfair. I can’t say too much at the minute because of the court case but it is really frustrating,” Nichola told the Sunday World.

“We’ve been waiting and waiting for the case to go forward but it keep on being adjourned and that just adds to our pain. The judicial system needs to speed up, not just for us but for other families. It would make things less traumatic.

“When the police rang to say he was allowed to go on holiday it hurt. I know people will say sure it doesn’t really matter, sure let him go on holiday and that it has been three years since Lyra was killed but it doesn’t seem to be fair to me,” she said.

Nichola McKee, sister of Lyra

Cavanagh is charged with the murder of Ms McKee and other offences relating to the rioting on the night in question in April 2019.

A police officer told Derry Magistrates Court that they believe Cavanagh is still involved with the dissident republican group Saoradh.

During last week’s sitting Cavanagh, (34), of Elmwood Terrace in Derry, made an application to vary his bail to allow him to go on a short break to Arranmore Island off the coast of Donegal with his partner.

A prosecution barrister objected to the variation being granted and said bail conditions had been imposed to allow them to ‘monitor and manage’ the risk.

She said that police believe Cavanagh was a member of Saoradh and was “clearly associated with the New IRA”.

The court heard that the defendant was seen outside the Saoradh offices in November 2021.

He was also observed at a white line protest in March and in June this year was seen talking to someone outside the Saoradh office.

Defence solicitor Derwin Harvey said the papers in the case had been forwarded and there were three strands to the case – identification, forensics and a diligence report.

29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee

He said that the entirety of the evidence was in police hands by March 2020, but it was not until September 2021 that Cavanagh was charged.

The solicitor said if his client posed such a risk why the delay in charging him?

He added that Cavanagh was “anxious” to face these charges for what he described as “this dreadful act” so he could clear his name.

The solicitor said that Cavanagh had said he was no longer associated with Saoradh and he added that it was clear he would not “announce it publicly unless it was the case”.

He said the variation was for a three-night break.

District Judge Barney McElholm said: “I don’t think he can get up to much on Arranmore.”

He granted the variation but ordered Cavanagh to surrender his passport and put forward a cash surety.

The case will be heard again next month.

paula.mackin@sundayworld.com


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