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Police in Northern Ireland charged six men on Thursday over the murder of Catholic Kevin McDaid.
The 49-year-old community worker was beaten to death last Saturday when the men, supporters of Glasgow Rangers, attacked him and another man, Damian Fleming (46). Fleming remains in hospital and McDaid’s wife Evelyn also suffered head injuries in the brutal attack.
All men charged appeared before Ballymena magistrate court on Thursday and denied involvement in the crime.
The ages of the men charged with murder vary from 18 to 50. The six, plus another man, were also charged with the attempted murder of Fleming.
There was a heavy polive presence in court as police separated the 70 loayalists who turned up from McDaid family menbers who were also in attendance.
The murder has heightened tension at the start of the marching season in Northern Ireland. Organizers have already decided to reroute the march in Coleraine so that it would detour the area of the town where the McDaid murder took place.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has voiced his concern and anger over the murder of the father-of-four.
"I think that it is incredibly important at this time that all of us are seen to be standing together against what is effectively hate crime," he said.