Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

More will die in Coleraine if sectarianism isn't tackled: Dallat

More people may die in Coleraine if sectarianism which saw Kevin McDaid beaten to death by a loyalist mob is not tackled, the Assembly heard last night.

Young people are cocooned in their homes during school holidays too afraid to visit the town centre and there is a climate of fear, John Dallat said.

Catholic father-of-four Mr McDaid, 49, was set upon close to his home in May. SDLP MLA Mr Dallat said sectarian groups chanting bigoted slogans had divided parts of Coleraine.

"The toleration of sectarianism which manifests itself in all its evil forms should be brought to an end and above all there must be a realisation that no section of the community should have to run the gauntlet of sectarianism irrespective of who is causing it," he said.

He added a community art project near the scene of the killing had annoyed some as it had a picture of a fisherman. Mr McDaid took young people from both communities fishing. The MLA led an adjournment debate on sectarianism in Coleraine tonight and said the situation had worsened since the death.

He warned the OFMDFM to heed the worst fears in the area.

"I advise them to ignore at their perils the predictions that others may die if this issue is not addressed and those responsible for acts of sectarianism and bigotry are not dealt with," he added.

He said in the weeks and months since Mr McDaid's killing there was expectation that there would be engagement and dialogue but that hasn't happened at the pace it needs to.

"Indeed the problem has got worse with children and young people cocooned in their homes during the school holidays, too afraid to go to the town centre where sectarian elements have gathered on a regular basis, equipped with their mobile phones to alert their cronies should others appear that they regard as 'the enemy'," he added.

"The Coleraine Bridge, which should unite people, has become a symbol of fear with sectarian groups gathering on a regular basis to chant bigoted slogans towards that area of the town where Kevin McDaid lost his life."

He added those slogans were clearly heard and hurt members of the McDaid family, who have been subjected to death threats.

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