The family of Kevin McDaid have accused the PSNI of being culpable in his murder by a loyalist mob.

The Catholic father-of-four was beaten to death in Coleraine, COunty Derry on Sunday by a gang linked to the unionist paramilitary UDA. A second man, Damien Fleming, is on life support following the orchestrated attack.

The McDaid family have said the PSNI were involved in “negotiations” with the loyalists on the day of his murder. Thjey expressed concern that violence had been threatened unless certain demands were met - and those threats were carried out, with deadly effect.

The PSNI Chief Hugh Orde has admitted talks had been taking place but denied the force could have prevented the attack. Controversially, a PSNI unit which was present during the attempted double murder failed to intervene and could have saved Mr McDaid’s life.

It is known that Irish tricolour flags which were flying in the predominately nationalist area were a target for the loyalists on the day of the assault. Mr McDaid, a cross-community worker and who had married a Protestant, had been involved in efforts to deal with the issue.

In a statement, the family said it was “a fundamental tenet of a civilised society that individuals such as these should not dictate the terms of law and order.”

They said they were “further concerned that given the prior knowledge of the threat, neither we nor our neighbours were properly protected by the police.

“We want the community to support the police, but equally police must also support the community.”

Nationalists had been told that an “agreement” had been reached between loyalists and the PSNI in the town that the flying of tricolours in the area on Sunday would be “tolerated” as long as they were taken down the following morning.

However, it is understood two car loads of loyalists armed with sticks, pick-axes and baseball bats left a car park in the New Market Lane area in the town centre at around 9pm and made their way to the nationalist area on the other side of the bridge, where the attack happened.

A crowd of up to 50 loyalists entered the nationalist Pates Lane area, some of them arriving in taxis, and started to take down the flags.

Mr McDaid and Mr Fleming, who were just yards from each other when the attack began, were quickly beaten to the ground.

A witness said he heard a girl ask the gang to leave Mr Fleming alone because “he’s only an oul’ man” but was told “he’s still a taig”.

Mr Fleming was then kicked repeatedly about the head as he lay on the ground. Mr McDaid was attacked after he came out of his home to make sure one of his sons was not caught up in the trouble.

“He was about 10 yards from me and 10 to 15 beat him to the floor. Someone said he was hit with some sort of bat,” the witness said.

“I saw his wife running towards him and a couple of other women crowding around him.

“He got up and clung on to his son, he was helping him up the road and they had got him as far as his house but he collapsed.

“It looked to me that he was taking a seizure. All of a sudden he stopped breathing and his lips turned blue.”

Mr McDaid’s wife, Evelyn, suffered bruising and cuts to the head during the attack.

His friend, Mr Fleming, was described “an easy target” as he is not very mobile. This was the second time he had been attacked by loyalists in two years.

The PSNI were also strongly criticised for a crude propoganda attempt to deny the common knowledge in the area that the UDA were behind the attack.

Mrs McDaid herself said those who assaulted her and her husband “called themselves the UDA”. It was also revealed that one of six people being held for the murder has worked as a political representative of the UDA in the past.

Her son Ryan, who witnessed the murder, denounced the PSNI for failing to intervene while the murders took place.

“I was shouting at them [the police in the waiting patrol car]. They didn’t want to know, they were 100 yards away. They saw the whole thing and did nothing.”

Ryan was subsequently informed about a death threat to his life by the PSNI, who have refused to name the source of the threat.

John Dallat, an SDLP Assembly member, said it was time for straight talking from the British government about the ongoing activities of the UDA and other loyalists in places such as Coleraine.

“Today we had to listen to Paul Goggins, who is supposed to be in charge of our security, saying there is no evidence that Kevin McDaid’s death was part of an organised threat from loyalist murder gangs.

“At precisely the same time on the same radio station, we heard that the PSNI have informed the son of the murder victim that they have received information that his life is under threat.

“We constantly have to listen to the Northern Ireland Office going softly, softly against the loyalist murder gangs, which still hold on to their arsenals. It is time we got a bit of straight talking from NIO ministers.

“The people who battered Kevin McDaid to death told him they were from the UDA and there is no reason to disbelieve them. The threat may be a bit disorganised, it may not have had clearance from the relevant brigadier, but it is no less murderous for that. There should be no more easy ride for these murder gangs.”

The Sinn Féin councillor in Coleraine, Bill Leonard, said the death threat to Ryan McDaid was the ultimate insult.

“The world is sickened by Kevin’s murder, yet cancerous Coleraine still spews out its loyalist sectarian bile and hatred,” he said.

“This family have suffered enough. They must be able to grieve without further pressure. Those loyalists responsible must now publicly withdraw the threat and close down forever, and the police need to confirm which loyalist group the threat emanates from.”

Standing alongside PSNI Chief Hugh Orde and First Minister Peter Robinson at Stormont, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said it was vital “that all of us are seen to be standing together”.

He was standing on the same spot at Stormont where he condemned the Real IRA and Continuity IRA as “traitors” following two deadly attacks on the British Crown forces.

“We are outraged at the incidents two months ago, but we have to be equally outraged at these actions that we have seen in recent days,” he said.

“There is a huge responsibility on all of us to face up to the deep-rooted sectarianism that is there in some parts of the North.”

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© 2009 Irish Republican News