The police in Northern Ireland attributed the killing to the New Irish Republican Army, a violent splinter group of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the paramilitary organisation that renounced violence in 2005 after decades of armed struggle to end British rule in Northern Ireland and unite it with the Republic of Ireland.
[Two men have since been arrested over the killing].
The Troubles, as the turmoil has been called, pitted mostly Roman Catholic Irish nationalists against the British Army, the Northern Ireland police and mostly Protestant loyalists. The strife came to an end with the signing of the multiparty Good Friday Agreement of 1998, although low-level violence and militant activity have continued.
Rejecting the Good Friday Agreement, a number of small republican factions, including the New I.R.A., have continued to stir unrest in a few disadvantaged areas and have attacked police officers and other security targets. In January, the New I.R.A. was blamed for a car-bomb attack — the first in many years — on Londonderry’s main courthouse.
A police official called the killing of McKee, in the heavily Catholic Creggan neighborhood, “a terrorist incident” and said investigators were searching for several suspects.
It is not believed that McKee was targeted as a journalist; there were police officers standing nearby when she was shot.
She is believed to be the first journalist killed in the line of work in Britain since 2001, when the Northern Ireland investigative reporter Martin O’Hagan was murdered by Protestant terrorists.
Ms. McKee wrote for Buzzfeed and The Atlantic’s website, among other publications, and she was an editor for Mediagazer, a website based in Silicon Valley covering the media industry. In 2016, Forbes included her on its “Thirty Under Thirty” list of the most prominent young people working in the European news media.
Her first book, Angels With Blue Faces, about the murder in 1981 of the Rev. Robert Bradford, a member of the British Parliament from Belfast, was published last year. She later signed a two-book deal with the publishing house Faber & Faber. One of those books, The Lost Boys, about the disappearances of young men in Belfast in the late 1960s and ′70s, is to be released next year.
McKee was born into a working-class family on the edge of the so-called Murder Mile of North Belfast, the most deadly place in Northern Ireland in terms of killings by area. She dropped out of the University of Birmingham in Britain and worked for a time as a freelancer for The Belfast Telegraph.
She first came to prominence five years ago for Letter to My 14-Year-Old Self, an online essay about growing up gay in Northern Ireland. It was made into a short film.
In 2017 she gave a TED Talk, widely seen on YouTube, arguing for changes in religious instruction to acknowledge and protect people in the L.G.B.T. community.
McKee was one of a new generation of journalists covering the renewed unrest in Northern Ireland, often working as web-based and precariously funded freelancers.
Her death drew condemnation by, among many others, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain and Michelle O’Neill, the Northern Ireland leader of Sinn Fein, the former political arm of the Provisional I.R.A., whose decision to support the 1998 peace deal is rejected by the New I.R.A.
John O’Doherty, project director of the Rainbow Project, an advocacy group based in Belfast, lauded Ms. McKee for, through her videos and writings, “supporting people in coming out and using her own coming-out story to empower others to live as their most authentic selves.”
Friends and supporters set up a GoFundMe page to help her family pay funeral costs and to look after her mother, Joan, for whom McKee was a caregiver. Within hours it had exceeded the target of £25,000.
In addition to her mother, McKee’s survivors include her partner, Sara Canning, who is a nurse at the same hospital where McKee was pronounced dead.
In an interview with the website Successful Belfast, McKee spoke of remaining in that city even after many of its young had fled.
“The tale of Belfast is a tale of two cities,” she said. “On the one hand, if you’ve got prospects and a talent that’s been recognised, it’s a great city. But, when you have nothing, the city has nothing to offer you. It can be a really cruel place for working-class kids.
“There’s a poverty of vision and a poverty of ambition for young people, fed by a culture of undermining achievement,” she added. “I’m from a working-class community. I’ve experienced how the city has preconceived ideas about working-class kids, and what we’re capable of achieving.”
The New York Times