Lyra McKee murder accused still involved with Saoradh dissident republican group, police believe

Defendant making application to vary bail to allow him go on short break to Aranmore Island with his partner

A police officer has told Derry Magistrate’s Court that they believe one of the men accused of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee — who was shot dead on April 18th, 2019 — was still involved with the dissident republican group Saoradh.

Peter Gérard Cavanagh (34) of Elmwood Terrace in Derry is charged with the murder of Lyra McKee and other offences relating to the rioting on the night in question.

At a sitting of the court on Tuesday the defendant was making an application to vary his bail to allow him go on a short break to Aranmore 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 Mr 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 on March 2022 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.

He said the entirety of the evidence was in police hands by March 2020 but it was not until September 2021 that Mr Cavanagh was charged. The solicitor said if his client posed such a risk why was there a delay in charging him.

He added that his client was anxious to face these charges so he could clear his name.

The solicitor said Mr 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 Aranmore.”

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