Irish Republican News · June 4, 2009
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
PSNI man directed murder mob

A member of the PSNI is believed to have been behind last week’s sectarian loyalist mob assault in Coleraine in which one man died and another was left critically injured.

According to the Sunday World newspaper, a text message sent by a member of the PSNI encourged the loyalist attack. It said that Irish tricolours [flags] “are still up” in “the Heights”, a mainly Catholic area in the predominately Protestant town.

“Are yous men or what”, the message said, implying that a previously threatened attack should go ahead.

The report followed revelations that the PSNI were in negotiations with loyalists over the presence of Irish flags in the town last Sunday. Violence had been threatened unless the flags were removed, but the loyalists had been urged by the PSNI to allow time for their removal.

But just hours later, the mob assualt in which father-of-four Kevin McDaid died was triggered by the text from a so-called “rogue cop”.

It prompted up to 50 loyalists to leave a bar where they were drinking, organise several taxis and crossed the bridge over the River Bann to “invade” the area.

Mr McDaid was beaten to death when the mob stormed the area. HIs wife and a pregnant female friend were turned on when they tried to intervene to save him.

Eight men have been charged in connection with the murder and attempted murder. A ninth man has been charged with affray.

A key witness in the the “invasion” of the Heights area has now been told his life is under threat from the loyalist murder gang.

“I have been told my life is under threat because I gave evidence to police. I know they want me dead. They have wanted me dead for a long time. I will not let them intimidate me,” said Peter Neil, who witnessed the attacks.

McDaid’s son Ryan has also been warned his life is under threat. The 22-year-old, who was informed of the threat against him last week, said he would not be intimidated by them.

As around 100 mourners paid respects to the McDaid family at their home on Friday evening, a loyalist flute parade could clearly be heard passing through the town.

On a night of high tension, the Pride of the Bann flute band ignored calls to cancel their parade, only stopping short of entering the Heights. At least one of the men charged with the attacks are members of the band.

In the old days, the river marked a clear boundary between the wealthy Protestant area of town and the Catholic ghetto.

A curfew bell used to ring through Coleraine nightly at 9pm. The bell tolled for the town’s Catholics, instructing them to return across the river Bann to their homes in Killowen. By the time the practice ended in 1954, the tolling had been relegated from instruction to tradition, but still held huge symbolic significance. The town council’s decision to discontinue the practice was informed by budgetary considerations, rather than any attempt at conciliation.

The town’s old divisions was marked again on Friday when the loyalist band marched up to the bridge to play triumphalist tunes towards the nationalist community.

Mr McDaid’s nephew Declan Kennedy said the parade was “disrespectful” to his uncle’s memory.

“There’s fear in this estate,” he said. “Nobody wants more trouble but that’s what the parade means -- trouble. I know they’re not crossing the river now but it should have been called off, it’s disrespectful to his memory, everyone thinks so.”

The parade passed off without incident. But the open disdain towards the Catholic community was further exposed when senior unionist politicians boycotted Mr McDaid’s funeral.

Despite the traditional words of condemnation following the murder, unionists such as DUP ‘Culture Minister’ Gregory Campbell swiftly turned their back on the McDaid family when urged to show their support.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said: “The only thing absent from Coleraine was the long white cloaks, the white hoods and the burning crucifixes. This was KKK stuff.”

He urged Mr Campbell, as MP for the Coleraine area where the killing took place, to take steps to end “the major problem of sectarianism in Coleraine”.

The Deputy First Minister pointed out that Mr Campbell refuses to speak to him, despite the pair working in government together, and said his stance was reflected in a lack of community dialogue.

“I want him to show real leadership. I want him to recognise the importance of contributing in a positive and constructive way by encouraging people in the Coleraine area to engage in dialogue.

“And indeed, to encourage him to engage in dialogue.”

In a muted response to the attack, only a few hundred people attended a rally against sectarianism outside Belfast’s city hall on Tuesday.

Protestant and Catholic clergymen addressed the crowd before Irish Congress of Trade Unions president Patricia McKeown called for an end to hate crime.

“We stood in front of the city hall over recent months for many, many reasons,” she said, telling the crowd that similar rallies had opposed job losses, violence in the Middle East and dissident republican murder in Northern Ireland.

She added: “We said there was no going back... but we say today equally, there is no going forward in this society while sectarianism remains unchecked and unchallenged.”

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© 2009 Irish Republican News