Page last updated at 10:14 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 11:14 UK

Father murder 'primitive evil'


Mourners came to pay their respects as Kevin McDaid's coffin is taken to the church

The murder of Kevin McDaid was an act of "primitive evil," a priest has told mourners at his funeral.

The deputy first minister Martin McGuinness was among several hundred people who attended Requiem Mass at St John's church in Coleraine on Monday.

The Catholic father-of-four was beaten to death by a loyalist mob outside his home in Somerset Drive a week ago.

Father Charles Keaney warned it could happen again if the "prejudices of the past" were not put aside.

He said that Mr McDaid had been known as the "peacemaker", and said that what had happened to him "had nothing to do with religion or even football.

"It was like something from the Dark Ages.

"Retaliation of any kind would dishonour the memory of Kevin McDaid," he said.

The priest said that as the world watched today they saw a town bereft of peace.

"Scratch beneath the veneer of normality and you will find a people with tired hopes, dull love and broken trust.

"A place where bitter mindless acts of violence and murder can be tolerated or excused even by a minority."

He warned: "Unless we put the prejudices of the past behind us and increase our efforts to work together then this could happen again."

Martin McGuinness (centre) following coffin
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was among the mourners

After the service Mr McDaid was buried in the churchyard where his wife led family members in throwing single red roses into the grave.

Nine men have been charged in connection with Mr McDaid's murder and the attempted murder of his friend, Damien Fleming.

Mr Fleming is still critically ill in hospital.

Trouble flared in the Heights area of Coleraine a week ago after Rangers won the Scottish Premier League over rivals Celtic.

Support for the two Glasgow football teams, known as the Old Firm, has traditionally divided along religious lines in Northern Ireland.

Most Rangers supporters are Protestants while Celtic fans are predominantly Catholic, and the rivalry between the teams has often been mirrored in sectarian clashes following big games.

Mr McDaid's family said they were concerned police were involved in "negotiations" with loyalists on the day he was killed.

However, Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said officers worked to ease tensions and came quickly to his aid.

On Friday night, a band parade in Coleraine, which organisers diverted to avoid the area where the murder happened, passed without incident.

Father Keaney said some Rangers supporters had left their football shirts in tribute outside Mr McDaid's house.

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