On Sunday a man was murdered not 5 minutes from where I sit writing this post. His wife was beaten, a neighbour a woman several months pregnant who tried to stop the beating was attacked and another man was beaten so badly around the head that he remains in a critical condition in hospital.
The reasons why this happened are not clear, however it seems that tensions in the area rose when Glasgow Rangers won the Scottish league. For those of you not familiar with the sectarian nature that surrounds some football teams. Glasgow Rangers is regarded as a Protestant team and their neighbours Glasgow Celtic are nominally a "Catholic" team. The management of both teams have done much to try and shake themselves of this sectarian image, however some of their supporters hold tightly to the old ways. If you are a "Prod" (as protestants are known) you support Rangers, if you are a catholic you support Celtic, simple as that, or it is to those people who enjoy beating people with baseball bats because they support the other team.
There will be as is always the case in Northern Ireland a lot of "what-about-ery" as people with vested interests in staying firmly on one side of the sectarian divide try to blame the other side. They supported the "other" football team, they wore the other teams shirts, they flew a flag I am insulted by, they sang sectarian songs, they called us rude and hateful names , they acted in a provocative manner etc etc etc, trotting out the same tired old shite I have heard for my entire adult life from one side or the other.
For me it is simple ... no football team, no flag, no song, no injured national pride and no percieved insult to my religion is a valid excuse to beat a man to death, beat another to near death, beat a wife and mother and beat another pregnant woman.
The people that did this are scum.
The politicians that wriggle and squirm and attempt to justify and excuse are scum
Religions that propagate division by claiming their way is the "only true way" and all others are false and thus not even worthy of the hand of friendship are scum.
... and then there is me ... when faced with sectarianism in my life did I challenge it or opt for the way that caused me least problems? I suppose there is scum in me too :(
I didn't know Kevin McDaid, our paths crossed from time to time, Coleraine is not a big place.
My thoughts are with his family this evening and the relatives of the other victims, I hope for their full recovery ... although that I suspect is little comfort.
Perhaps one day instead of two tribes at each others throats, we will be two tribes that can share and become more that the sum of our parts ... that day I fear is still a long way away.