From Socialist Voice, July 2009

The hierarchy of victimhood

When two British soldiers were killed in Antrim and a member of the PSNI in Lurgan in March, protests were held throughout the North to condemn the killings. Shortly afterwards a Catholic man was murdered in Coleraine while going to the aid of a neighbour who had been set upon by a loyalist gang. The dead man’s wife and a pregnant woman were also battered in the process. In scenes reminiscent of the Shankill Butchers, the loyalists wielded hammers and bats.
     The murdered man, Kevin McDaid, was a community activist who had worked in the area to improve community relations, having taken groups of Catholic and Protestant children away.
     The north Antrim nationalist community over the past few years has been subject to continuous sectarian harassment by loyalists and their coat-trailers. Last year a group of young soccer-players from Dublin had to be removed from Coleraine after an attack on their accommodation.
     In July 2007 Michael McInveen’s father received a death threat from loyalists after removing the name of his murdered sixteen-year-old son from an Eleventh Night bonfire. Kevin McDaid’s son has also been informed by the PSNI that his life is under threat.
     The silence and lack of action from all quarters has been deafening. One DUP councillor, Adrian McQuillan, said the killing was “tit for tat” and a direct result of “there being Tricolours up yesterday afternoon.” In other words, the victim deserved what he got.   
     It seems that the definition of what is a crime has changed since March. At the demonstration on the 2nd of June outside City Hall in Belfast the crowd barely reached triple figures, if even that. Those who lined up behind the state in March are now conspicuous by their silence, their absence at the demonstrations, and the lack of any calls for condemnation.
     Condemning the murder of an innocent Catholic is beyond the pale; it is a contradiction of the respectability that loyalist paramilitaries now have. This situation is made even worse by allegations by the dead man’s wife that two members of the police sat in a car and watched the murder, in scenes reminiscent of the murder of Robert Hamill in Portadown.
     June is the month in which republicans, socialists and all progressives celebrate the birthday of Wolfe Tone. Sectarianism is a consequence of British rule in Ireland. It truly is time for all Irish people―Catholic, Protestant, and Dissenter―to unite to break the connection.

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