The Sectarian Murder of Kevin McDaid

The sectarian murder of Catholic father of four Kevin McDaid in Coleraine this weekend must be unequivocally condemned by everyone.

It was absolutely despicable to hear local DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan attempting to deflect culpability from this awful sectarian murder by suggesting on BBC Radio Ulster 25/5/09 that the erection of the Irish flag was to blame. This is an appalling statement for any political representative to make in such circumstances. Strangely on this MLA’s web-site there is no public statement condemning the murder. Instead we have a statement condemning the behavior of people attending a St Patrick’s Day celebration within his constituency.

It was equally deplorable to read, Irish News 26/5/09, the comments by another DUP representative, Cllr. Sandy Gilkinson, supporting a planned loyalist parade, of up to 40 loyalist bands, despite it now passing close to the spot where these same loyalists beat to death Kevin McDaid and have left another Catholic man fighting for his life. In response to the murder and the proposed parade Councillor Gilkinson said: ‘Sadly, things like this happen and while I condemn the death, life still has to go on.’

Sectarianism is a scourge on our society which will never be eradicated when political representatives within the DUP continue to engage in such an outrageous way that can only be described as disgustingly offensive. Sadly Mr. McQuillan and Mr. Gilkinson are not lone voices within the ranks of the DUP. The DUP history is littered with ambiguous messages, anti-Irish, and anti-Catholic commentary that are viewed as entirely sectarian.

Indeed the very public comments by DUP Euro candidate Diane Dodds seeking to ‘smash Sinn Fein’ do nothing to eradicate sectarianism rather they help to maintain and foster it. The days of harking back to failed political agendas where DUP leaders stood with sledge hammers waging down on a Sinn Fein logo are over. So too are the days when loyalists used sledge hammers to smashed down the doors of Catholics homes before murdering them in their beds.

In using the ‘smash Sinn Fein’ election slogan Diane Dodds, and the DUP, have yet again been dangerously irresponsible in their deliberate use of language and will no doubt again seek to distance themselves from those who would act on such messages. However, such comments feed the very frenzied loyalist mob who murdered Kevin McDaid. Diane Dodds, MLA McQuillan, Cllr. Gilkinson and the DUP must be publicly challenged about their comments by all right thinking people if we are ever to eradicate sectarianism.

Diane Dodds and the DUP should publicly state that they do not support loyalist band parades openly displaying their allegiance and support for illegal paramilitary organisations that are responsible for approximately 1,100 sectarian murders. Significantly, instead of playing the sectarian card with false election slogans for votes Diane Dodds should openly state that she does not want electoral support from these quarters nor from their followers . Do the right and moral thing for once and help end sectarian murders.

Mark Thompson, Director, Relatives for Justice