Dissident republican Gary Donnelly tops poll in area where journalist was murdered

Independent republican councillor Gary Donnelly has topped the poll in a Derry ward weeks after the dissident republican murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Mr Donnelly is considered to be one of the public faces of dissident republicanism in Northern Ireland.

He polled 1,374 first-preference votes in the Moor district electoral area (DEA) of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

He was first elected to the council as an independent in 2014.

Mr Donnelly’s re-election came as Ms McKee, who was shot dead during disturbances in Derry, was remembered during a May Day parade in Belfast.

Her murder sparked outrage across the world as well as a swell of criticism for dissident republican terrorism in Northern Ireland.

Mr Donnelly said she died because of a “reckless” act.

Writing on his Facebook page, he said: “This is wrong and my thoughts like the thoughts of this entire community are with her loved ones.

“I would plead with those behind this attack to desist from any further attacks and seriously consider the consequences of their action.”

Revulsion at her death has galvanised a new bid for political agreement at Stormont following criticism of the stalemate from a Catholic priest.

Demands for action from Father Martin Magill and Ms McKee’s sister Nichola Corner during her funeral in Belfast spurred the UK Government into a renewed effort to restore Stormont powersharing, due to begin next week.

On Saturday, members from the NUJ paid a special tribute to Ms McKee at Belfast City Hall as the parade made its way through the city.