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Cracks in Northern Ireland Executive after loyalist mob murder

Divisions opened up today in the Northern Ireland Executive over the response to the brutal sectarian murder of Catholic community worker Kevin McDaid.

Sinn Fein's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness accused some unionist politicians of failing to back up words of condemnation with action to help heal Catholic/Protestant divisions.

And in an escalation of political tension around the issue, he singled out Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Culture Minister Gregory Campbell for criticism.

Mr Campbell, as MP for the Coleraine area where the killing took place, has condemned the murder, but Mr McGuinness said words were not enough and called on politicians to take steps to end division.

"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," said Mr McGuinness.

"And indeed, to encourage him to engage in dialogue."

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

Father-of-four Kevin McDaid, 49, was killed yards from his home in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, nine days ago when violence flared after a 40-strong loyalist mob stormed into the area near his home after Rangers beat Celtic to the Scottish Premier League title.

Six men have so far been charged with the murder and, together with two more, with the attempted murder of Damien Fleming, 46, who was critically injured in the disturbances.

The two main unionist parties have condemned the murder, though they have confirmed that none of their senior politicians attended Mr McDaid's funeral yesterday.

The DUP said its East Londonderry MP, Mr Campbell, had prior commitments at Stormont.

Protestant clergymen attended the funeral and appealed for an end to sectarianism, as have leading figures in both the DUP and Ulster Unionist Party.

Mr Campbell has already publicly condemned the killing and asked anyone with information to contact police.

He also said that in the aftermath of the murder he received complaints from Protestants in Coleraine alleging intimidation by Catholics.

The DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson has visited Mr McDaid's bereaved family with Mr McGuinness.

Both men have promised new policies to help combat sectarianism.

But the Sinn Fein representative said more needed to be done at grassroots level.

Mr McGuinness told the BBC: "Gregory and others within the DUP in the Coleraine area need to step forward.

"Condemning the violence and murder of Kevin McDaid is not enough.

"What we need to see is people stepping forward, rolling up their sleeves, engaging in dialogue and contributing to the resolution of problems."

He added: "I want him to encourage the loyalist, unionist community in Coleraine to contribute to a dialogue, a discussion, which is about facing up to the problems that exist in that community.

"Thus far, I don't believe that that is happening."

Meanwhile, several hundred people attended a rally against sectarianism outside Belfast's city hall today.

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."

Belfast Telegraph