Tensions were mounting in Coleraine today after a 49-year-old man was killed on his doorstep during violent clashes between Celtic and Rangers fans.
Kevin McDaid, who is understood to be a father-of-three, died after being viciously attacked in the Somerset Drive area of the town at around 9.30pm yesterday. A 46-year-old man was also taken to hospital with serious injuries after being assaulted in nearby Pates Lane. Sources at the scene today claimed that a crowd of around 40 people, many armed with home-made weapons, arrived in the area after the final matches in yesterday’s Scottish Premier League meant that Rangers won the title ahead of Celtic.
Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard said the attack on Mr McDaid, a Catholic, was based on “raw sectarian hatred” and claimed that loyalists were responsible.
“This is a totally devastating incident but unfortunately I have to say that I have warned that loyalists would take a life in Coleraine. They have now done that and for what? A football competition was the excuse this time,” said Mr Leonard.
He added: “This is raw sectarian hatred and Coleraine will now have to come to terms with this reality. There is now no room for denial and excuses. A family is reeling because sectarian hatred visited them in the form of weapon-wielding loyalists. Their lives will never, ever be the same.”
Mr Leonard said there is now immense anger and frustration in the area following last night’s attacks.
“This must stop forever and loyalist/ unionist politicians and community leaders must take a long look at the situation, be honest about its ramifications and work to finally rid this area of such hatred,” he added.
Mayor of Coleraine, UUP councillor David Donaldson Barbour, said he was “disturbed” to hear that someone had lost his life during last night’s trouble.
“Over the last few years there has been a lot of anti-social behaviour in that area of Coleraine. It is not always sectarian - a lot of people involved in criminality are using a sectarian badge. People in the area are exasperated by what is going on there and it can be very frightening for residents. It is very disturbing that someone has lost his life and this should be a wake up call to the agencies to get in there and sort the area out,” he said.
A heavy police presence remained in the estate today. The spot where Mr McDaid was killed was cordoned off so that forensic officers could carry out their investigations.
A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police investigating both incidents would appeal to anyone with information to contact them at Coleraine on 0845 600 8000.”
Mr McDaid’s death has sparked serious concern of further disturbances in the area where there has been a history of sectarian clashes.
In August six people were injured following serious sectarian disturbances in the same area. At the time it was reported that trouble flared when up to 100 loyalists entered the estate armed with iron bars and wooden batons.
Taken from the Belfast TelegraphReuse content