A Catholic community worker was beaten to death in Northern Ireland on Sunday by a mob wearing the colors of the Scottish soccer team, Glasgow Rangers.
The attack took place in Coleraine, Co Derry, shortly after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League.
Kevin McDaid, 49, died trying to protect another man Damien Fleming, 46, as the pair were attacked by the mob. Fleming is now in intensive care and police are treating his case as attempted murder.
Both men were targeted by separate gangs of up to 40 men who entered a mainly Catholic housing estate after Rangers clinched the Scottish Premier League.
McDaid's wife Evelyn, a Protestant, suffered serious head injuries as she tried to protect her husband.
She said: “It was all to do with religion, and I’m not even a Catholic. I am a Protestant, it’s a mixed marriage, but they just seem to hate us so much.”
She also appealed for the Catholic community not to respond to the attacks.
“He wouldn’t want retaliation for it,” she said. “He wouldn’t want my sons to get hurt, he wouldn’t want this. He was trying to keep the peace, he didn’t want all this, the nonsense that’s been going on here for years and years. He wanted peace.”
Ryan McDaid, one of the dead man’s sons, has accused the Northern Ireland police (PSNI) of doing nothing while his father died.
"The police sat and watched as Dad died, they never moved,” he told The London Times.
“There were four police officers in a car and they sat and watched from Pates Lane. They never moved, never came, never helped.
“Before I rang the police on my mobile I was shouting at them [the police in the waiting patrol car]. They didn’t want to know, they were 100 yards away. They saw the whole thing and did nothing.
“He died in my arms, dad was staggering up the road, he had gone out to help Damien. Damien was getting beaten and I rang the police on my mobile. Four or five times I rang 999. They said they were coming"
Billy Leonard, a former policeman and politician from the Irish nationalist partySinn Fein
, said that several carloads of men arrived armed with clubs “and literally attacked the first person they came across.”
A Presbyterian minister in the town, theRev. Alan Johnston
, said Rangers supporters were drinking heavily while watching Sunday’s Rangers victory at pubs in Coleraine, and then drove across a bridge to the Catholic area.
A Catholic politician in the town,John Dallat
, accused an outlawed Protestant paramilitary group, theUlster Defence Association
, of responsibility.
Rangers enjoys support exclusively from the Protestant side of the community in Northern Ireland, while archrivalGlasgow
Celtic draws support only from Catholics.
Those sectarian allegiances fuel street fighting, and occasionally worse, in both Glasgow and across Northern Ireland, particularly when the two teams play each other or when the annual league championship is determined. Celtic, league champions the previous three years, finished second Sunday.
Police in forensic suits erected a tent Monday to preserve evidence at the spot where McDaid died. Nearby, someone had tied a green-and-white Celtic scarf to a pole, and teenagers wearing Celtic clothing huddled on street corners shouting anti-Protestant slogans.
Chief Inspector Frankie Taylor
, appealed to the Catholic minority in the town not to retaliate.
Taylor said the dead man had four children, did volunteer youth work in the town, and had been encouraging local Catholics to cooperate with Northern Ireland’s traditionally Protestant police. He described McDaid as “a man who would do anything for anybody.”