Kevin McDaid has been laid to rest. His funeral, like all funerals, was an occasion of sadness, but this was complicated grief.
Complicated by the fact that Kevin was murdered.
The cortege stopped and was silent and still at the spot where Rangers supporters had repeatedly jumped on his head last Sunday as they celebrated their team’s league triumph by killing a taig.
Across the river the silence was broken as a loyalist band played the anthems of hate as the cortege stopped
Was this an utterly cruel coincidence or a calculated mark of disrespect?
Given the sickness that infects the protestant population of Coleraine you w not need to be a cynic to plump for the latter exp0lanations.
Chances are, with most things in life, it was merely cruel chance.
However one would have thought that the drum banging classes of Coleraine society would think that they should be keeping a low profile at the moment.
Not a bit of it.
As they say in the criminal fraternity the town of Coleraine has “form”.
Michael Clifford in the Sunday Tribune revealed:
“Back in the old days, a curfew bell used to ring through Coleraine nightly at 9pm. The bell tolled for the town’s Catholics, instructing them to return across the river Bann to their ghetto in Killowen. By the time the practice ended in 1954, the tolling had been relegated from instruction to tradition, but still held huge symbolic significance. The town council’s decision to discontinue the practice was informed by budgetary considerations, rather than any attempt at conciliation.”
When David Trimble accepted his Nobel Prize during his heyday at the centre of the Peace process he told an enthralled global audience that the unionist dominated Northern Ireland was a “cold house” for the catholic minority.
Although he was talking about “the province” generally I think that he could have been specifically considering places like Coleraine.
This week Coleraine was back in the local news in the North.
It was the official opening of the town hall-150 years after it was built.
This civic ceremony was either, like the loyalist band breaking the silence on the day of Kevin McDaid’s funeral, either highly unfortunate or a shabby attempt at some positive PR for the town.
It was a gushing piece of TV “journalism” a town criers in 19th century garb was shown doing his bell ringing “hear ye hear ye!” gig.
Of course when Coleraine had a real chap doing that job for real it also had a curfew for Catholics.
It probably wasn’t the best week to be harking back to those days.
Councillor David Barbour was enthusiastic about the official opening saying:
“This is who we are!”
Not a single unionist politician saw fit to pay their respects to Kevin McDaid at his funeral, not even his MP.
Given the potential political importance of this murder one would have thought that Kevin’s MP would have been in attendance.
Gregory Campbell MP is the honourable member for East Londonderry, which contains Coleraine and, now, the remains of Kevin McDaid.
Gregory Campbell, of course, is a well-known Rangers supporter.
He attempted to divert media attention away from the racist and anti-Irish famine song late last year.
Of course the sickness that infects Coleraine isn’t a matter of religion simpliciter, Kevin’s widow Evelyn who was also beaten by the Rangers mob is a Protestant and local Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard is also from the protestant tradition.
Just as every white person in the Deep South didn’t approve of the Klan then many decent Protestant people in Coleraine don’t approve of what happened to Kevin McDaid.
Hopefully in time they will be heard above the baying Rangers mob that repeatedly jumped on Kevin McDaid’s head that Sunday.
There is, of course, another victim of that awful day in Coleraine.
Damien Fleming a neighbour and friend of Kevin McDaid is fighting for his life.
A registered disabled man he was the first to be set upon by the heroic mob of Rangers supporters that had spilled out of Scotts bar after the SPL trophy had been paraded around Tannadice.
His family released picture of Damien in his hospital bed.
Kevin McDaid’s widow Evelyn stated that the man who was the love of her life and a father to her boys would not have wanted any revenge for his murder.
Hopefully that call is heeded.
All that decent, right thinking people are asking for is that the law be applied fairly without fear or favour.
Ultimately there will come a time in the north of Ireland when the lynching of Taigs just like the lynching of blacks in the Deep South will become a thing of the past.
That requires the strict enforcement of the law and the deliberate dismantling of the belief system that affirmed the Rangers mob to spill out of Scotts bar that Sunday with murder in their delinquent minds.
That is why the text message story from the Sunday World is, if true, so explosive.
These lynch mobs, if they feel they have the tolerance of local law enforcement, will go and kill “Taigs” with impunity as the mood takes them.
So the policing angle is central. A stern looking Hugh Orde saying all the correct things to camera is of little benefit if his officers locally are colluding with their fellow rangers supporters to teach the Taigs a deadly lesson now and again.
If we get the policing right in the Sick Counties then the other strand in this strategy for public safety is to eliminate the cultural justification that the mobs of Rangers supporters who murdered Kevin McDaid felt they had when they attacked him and Damien Fleming.
To Rangers supporters in Scotland it may have passed them by that their world famous and highly successful football team has, in the last 40 years , had not a single player from the Republic of Ireland.
In towns like Portadown and Coleraine that incontestable fact, that their club doesn’t field any player from the Republic of Ireland, is a central part of an emotional contract.
It is the soccer equivalent of the act of settlement.
Among the taig murdering classes in the Sick Counties that perceived ban on players from the Republic of Ireland at Ibrox is what defines Rangers for them.
In that Coleraine worldview that makes Rangers unlike any other football club.
While Rangers continue to be able to be without a player from the Republic of Ireland then they are part of the problem when they could be a central part of the solution