The PSNI police believes that the unionist paramilitary UDA was involved in the murder of Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid in Coleraine last month, it has been revealed.
Crown prosecutors also disclosed at the High Court this week that ten people are now under threat as part of a campaign to intimidate witnesses to the attack.
Mr McDaid, a father-of-four, was beaten to death yards from his front door after a UDA-organised mob descended on the area and carried out random attacks on Catholics.
“The only thing absent... was the long white cloaks, the white hoods and the burning crucifixes,” Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister, Martin Mr McGuinness said.
Another local Catholic man, Damien Fleming, was also attacked and serious injured as violence flared over the presence of Irish tricolour flags in the largely nationalist ‘Heights’ district.
However, as part of a decades-old British “normalisation” campaign, the PSNI had strongly denied the potentially explosive allegation that the attack was sanctioned by the UDA. Other reports have indicated that the actual call for UDA action came via a text message from a member of the PSNI itself.
Despite the recent killing and other non-fatal attacks, the issue of sectarian assaults on Catholics in the North did not feature significantly as an issue in the recent European elections. It was not raised by any party during the elections in the 26 Counties.
The matter only reached a head at a bail hearing for one of those accused of the murder this week, when Crown counsel pointed to the risk that witnesses faced UDA intimidation.
The British government has long denied that the UDA continues to carry out sectarian attacks, while the official position of the devolved DUP/Sinn Féin administration at Stormont is also that the UDA is maintaining a “ceasefire” and is engaged in a process of decommissioning its weapons.
Meanwhile, emboldened loyalists have attempted to erect Union Jack flags and other loyalist symbols near where Mr McDaid was murdered.
It is understood that loyalists entered the area at around 6pm last night and began putting up flags and taunting nationalist residents.
Several flags had been put up on a lamp-post beside the murder scene but were removed in an increasingly tense situation in the coastal town.
“[Catholic] children wearing St Joseph’s College uniforms were told to f*** off home,” said local nationalist councillor John Dallat.
“It’s appalling that people who claim to be celebrating a holiday can come into a place where residents are still raw and grieving and behave like this.”
Meanwhile, the organisers of a march planned by the Protestant Orange Order through the nationalist area have agreed to re-route it away from the scene of Mr McDaid’s murder.
The parade had been due to pass the McDaid home but the Coleraine Orangemen have agreed to revise their route.
Meanwhile, claims by the British government that unionist paramilitary groups have engaged in “historic” acts of decommissioning have been exposed as lies.
Despite breathless claims in the mainstream media that large quantities of arms are in the process of being destroyed by British Army experts under the eyes of the Canadian General John de Chastelain of the IICD arms body, it has now emerged that de Chastelain is not even in the country.
The claims were designed to facilitate the extension of a loyalist decommissioning “deadline”, now in its tenth year, and further British grant aid for the loyalist murder gangs.
It is now expected that tegislation will be passed to extend the August deadline, buying further time for both the unionist paramilitary gangs and the British government.